Bigger Than Life

1956, Drama, 1h 35m

29 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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Movie Info

After schoolteacher Ed Avery (James Mason) faints and is hospitalized, doctors diagnose him with a fatal arterial illness and tell him he has a few months to live. Ed agrees to an experimental treatment with cortisone, and makes what appears to be a miraculous recovery. However, upon his return home, his wife, Lou (Barbara Rush), notices severe mood shifts in him. His friend and coworker Wally (Walter Matthau) also perceives the changes, and discovers that Ed has been abusing the cortisone.

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Critic Reviews for Bigger Than Life

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Bigger Than Life

  • Apr 11, 2016
    Bigger Than Life is far more than a tale of a man turned insane by drugs. Rather, Bigger Than Life is an amazing, often times disturbing critique of social class, conformity, and traditional roles in America. Bigger Than Life is an underrated masterpiece. It's a film that is not only powerful in the context of its release, but it is one that remains every bit as powerful today because its themes, sadly, still remain relevant. This is a movie that everyone should see.
    Joey T Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2013
    One of the earliest and powerful discussions on mental illness and how it impacts the typical 50s suburban family. James Mason is wonderful under Nicholas Ray's direction. Kudos as well to a supporting cast that does it's best to keep the family norms together as the patriarch slowly descends into madness.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2011
    The film is a striking portrait of the rampant paranoia running through peoples mind in the 1950s, but James Mason's powerful performance as a man reaching breaking point and Barbara Rush as the put-upon wife can a strike a chord with audiences anytime today.
    Quinto W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 10, 2011
    Amazing symbolic and the case of psychosis gets to insane levels nearing the end of the film making tension build throughout the movie. Not the easiest film to watch but one definitely worth watching! Highly Recommended!
    Chris B Super Reviewer

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