Bigger Than Life

Bigger Than Life

Infobox Film
name = Bigger Than Life

director = Nicholas Ray
producer = James Mason
writer = Story:
Berton Roueché
Cyril Hume
Richard Maibaum
James Mason (uncredited)
Nicholas Ray (uncredited)
Clifford Odets (uncredited)
Gavin Lambert (uncredited)
cinematography = Joe MacDonald

"Bigger Than Life" is an American film made in 1956 directed by Nicholas Ray and starring James Mason, who also co-wrote and produced the film, about a school teacher and family man whose life spins out of control upon becoming addicted to cortisone. The film co-stars Barbara Rush as his wife and Walter Matthau as his closest friend, a fellow teacher. Though it was a box-office flop upon its initial release, many modern critics hail it as a masterpiece and a brilliant indictment of the conformist 1950s suburbia.


Schoolteacher and family man Ed Avery, who has 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. He 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 and, ultimately, a psychotic episode that threatens the safety of his family.

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