7.6/10
5,171
55 user 59 critic

Bigger Than Life (1956)

Not Rated | | Drama | 26 October 1956 (West Germany)
A seriously ill schoolteacher becomes dependent on a "miracle" drug that begins to affect his sanity.

Director:

Writers:

(story and screenplay), (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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On TV

Airs Fri. Apr. 28, 8:00 PM on TCM

ON DISC
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Ed Avery
...
Lou Avery
...
Wally Gibbs
...
Dr. Norton (as Robert Simon)
Christopher Olsen ...
...
Dr. Ruric
Rusty Lane ...
Bob LaPorte
Rachel Stephens ...
Nurse
...
Pat Wade
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Storyline

Schoolteacher and family man Ed Avery, who's been suffering bouts of severe pain and even blackouts, is hospitalized with what's diagnosed as a rare inflammation of the arteries. Told by doctors that he probably has only months to live, Ed agrees to an experimental treatment: doses of the hormone cortisone. Ed makes a remarkable recovery, and returns home to his wife, Lou, and their son, Richie. He must keep taking cortisone tablets regularly to prevent a recurrence of his illness. But the "miracle" cure turns into its own nightmare as Ed starts to abuse the tablets, causing him to experience increasingly wild mood swings. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Motion Picture You've Been Hearing About ... Reading About ... And Talking About! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1956 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

One in a Million  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The young actor playing a cameo role as a student drawing a picture of a man who is angry with his mother (when Ed briefly covers a class for a co-worker) is Jerry Mathers, who would go on to play Beaver Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver (1957) a few years later. See more »

Goofs

When Ed has a Barium X-Ray the image of the swallowed fluid is anatomically inaccurate. The fluid falls straight down to an extremely large "stomach" in his groin area. See more »

Quotes

Ed Avery: Childhood is a congenital disease - and the purpose of education is to cure it. We're breeding a race of moral midgets.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Great 1950s Subversive Cinema!
2 May 2000 | by (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

This film, much like the melodramas of Douglas Sirk, has far more going on than meets the eye. James Mason's character, after getting whacked out of Cortizone (a "Miracle Drug") indeed becomes hysterical and abusive. But he was made ill in the first place by the strain caused his intensely driven lifestyle, where he kept two jobs to finance his family's social and financial ascent.

What the viewer has to watch for is what his character says during his cortizone-induced delusions. His criticisms of his wife, kid, PTA and society in general are over-the-top, but essentially valid. It's a classic narrative device: by allowing a main character a way out of societal responsibility and place (In this case, being bombed on Cortizone), he is allowed to comment on and criticize American society directly without actually threatening the status quo. and in the case of 1950s America, that's a monolithic status quo to criticize.


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