7.6/10
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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.

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(story and screenplay), (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Dr. Norton (as Robert Simon)
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Dr. Ruric
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Bob LaPorte
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Nurse
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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

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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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

26 October 1956 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

One in a Million  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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

In his first class to the students after being released from the hospital, Ed talks about Julius Caesar. James Mason previously appeared in Julius Caesar (1953). See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Norton is looking at Ed's electrocardiogram, he is shown viewing it upside down. See more »

Quotes

Ed Avery: God was wrong!
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Connections

Referenced in At the Movies: Summer Special 2008/09 (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Those Side Effects
14 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

Although horribly miscast James Mason turns in a good performance as a man who overindulges in prescriptive cortisone. A happy well adjusted man turns into a psychotic monster bit by bit frightening everyone around him including his wife and son. The best performance in the film is that of Barbara Rush as Mason's wife and mother of their son Christopher Olsen.

Mason after a few collapses and fainting spells is diagnosed with a rare malady that is causing the collapse of his arteries. Cortisone was an experimental treatment at the time, the most famous person taking it was Senator John F. Kennedy who was being treated secretly for Addison's Disease. All of which we learned after President Kennedy was assassinated. I myself was treated years ago for conjunctivitis with an eye drop in both eyes. Later on a shot to clear up skin problems. I can say that I never had the issues Mason did.

As Mason's doctors Robert F. Simon and Roland Winters cautiously tell their patient cortisone will be a permanent part of your life now and it cannot be abused because we've detected bad side effects in people we've treated. But abuse it he does.

Although James Mason has played American roles before I could not quite accept him as American here. For him it would have been better had the story taken place in an English setting. Part of this role called for him to be an old college jock, a football player and I could not buy that for a New York minute.

Rush gave one of her best performances in a subtle and controlled way as Mason's frightened and concerned wife. Walter Matthau has a supporting role as a concerned neighbor and fellow teacher. Watching Bigger Than Life I could not help feeling if Matthau were in the lead the film would be better.

Still Bigger Than Life is a fine drama about the evils of prescriptive drug abuse.


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