MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 11,461 this week

Bigger Than Life (1956)

 -  Drama  -  2 August 1956 (USA)
7.6
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,738 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 56 critic

A seriously ill schoolteacher becomes dependent on a "miracle" drug that begins to affect his sanity.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (story), 5 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 48 titles
created 16 Jul 2012
 
a list of 41 titles
created 03 Jul 2013
 
a list of 42 titles
created 9 months ago
 
a list of 38 titles
created 6 months ago
 
a list of 21 titles
created 1 month ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Bigger Than Life (1956)

Bigger Than Life (1956) on IMDb 7.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Bigger Than Life.
1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Hot Blood (1956)
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Stephen Torino (Wilde), who is tricked by his brother Marco (Adler) into an arranged marriage with tempestuous Annie Caldash (Russell). Annie is willing to give the union a go, but Torino wants none of it.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Jane Russell, Cornel Wilde, Luther Adler
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

The most complete, newly restored version of Nicholas Ray's experimental masterpiece embodies the director's practice of filmmaking as a "communal way of life." Ray plays himself in the ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Richard Bock, Tom Farrell, Danny Fisher
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A commander receives a citation for an attack on Rommel's headquarters, which is actually undeserved as the commander is unfit for his job. On top of that, unbeknownst to him, his wife is having an affair with one of his officers.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Richard Burton, Curd Jürgens, Ruth Roman
Party Girl (1958)
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Lawyer Thomas Farrell has made a career defending crooks in trials. He has never realized that there is a downside to his success, until he meets the dancer Vicki Gayle. She makes him ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An Eskimo who has had little contact with white men goes to a trading post where he accidentally kills a missionary and finds himself being pursued by the police.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Yôko Tani, Carlo Giustini
Action | Biography | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The last eighteen years in the life of Jesse James, showing his home life in Missouri, his experiences with Quantrill's raiders, his career of banditry with his brother Frank and the ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Hope Lange
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Christabel fools everyone with her sweet exterior including her cousin Donna and Donna's wealthy fiancée Curtis. The only one who sees through her facade is Nick, a rugged writer who loves ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Mel Ferrer, Joan Fontaine, Robert Ryan
The Lusty Men (1952)
Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When he sustains a rodeo injury, star rider Jeff McCloud returns to his hometown after many years of absence. He signs on as a hired hand with a local ranch, where he befriends fellow ranch... See full summary »

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Robert Parrish
Stars: Susan Hayward, Robert Mitchum, Arthur Kennedy
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A strong willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob, when she helps a wounded gang member.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts...

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Run for Cover (1955)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Odd little Western that gets off to a snappy start when a man (Matt Dow) is mistaken as a train robber. After the town's sheriff shoots the kid he's riding with, Dow clears his name and ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors, John Derek
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An ornithologist battles a family of bird poachers in the Florida Everglades.

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Budd Schulberg
Stars: Burl Ives, Christopher Plummer, Chana Eden
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Ed Avery
...
Lou Avery
...
Wally Gibbs
Robert F. Simon ...
Dr. Norton (as Robert Simon)
Christopher Olsen ...
Richie Avery
Roland Winters ...
Dr. Ruric
Rusty Lane ...
Bob LaPorte
Rachel Stephens ...
Nurse
Kipp Hamilton ...
Pat Wade
Edit

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:

A theme so vital... we urge you to bring all your compassion and understanding to it! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 August 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One in a Million  »

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Playwright Clifford Odets was invited on the set by director Nicholas Ray, where he worked on re-writing the final scene of the film. Ed Avery (James Mason), still delirious out of his coma, starting to talk about Abraham Lincoln was Odets' contribution. 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: [of wife Lou] It's a shame that I didn't marry someone who was my intellectual equal.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The effects of a miracle drug
27 December 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

James Mason becomes "Bigger than Life" in this 1956 Nicholas Ray film that also stars Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau. Mason plays Ed Avery, a schoolteacher who also is a part-time cab dispatcher. He is suffering from severe spasms that are getting worse. He learns that he has a terminal illness that perhaps can be cured with a steroid, cortisone. He is helped, but he also begins to suffer from mood swings and depression and, as he takes more and more, veers completely out of control. Barbara Rush plays his suffering wife, and Walter Matthau is a family friend and coworker.

I actually had a family member who went into profound depressions because of continuing to take black market cortisone, so this film resonated with me. Mason, who produced the film, is terrifying. Barbara Rush is very good, though her character puts up with an awful lot before she makes a move. Matthau is good in a supporting role, but roles showcasing his true strengths as an actor were a few years away.

This is much more than a cautionary tale about steroids, which need to be taken and tapered off very carefully. In his cortisone-induced mindset, Ed Avery spouts off on the problems in society, very unusual in the repressed '50s. His ideas are a tad over the top, but there's a good kernel in them. Ray always did well with a rebellious mindset.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Inspiration for 'The Shining?' shaggy61
Plot hole? rahul_capri
UK DVD release? terrypeters_01
Criterion releasing R1 DVD + Blu-Ray on March 23, 2010 pr1mal_1
Anyone else a bit disappointed with the end? motherfckzombies-261-668745
I wonder if MAD MEN's creator has seen this movie... deering24
Discuss Bigger Than Life (1956) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?