From the British Film Institute
Bigger Than Life
£15 WITH FREE UK POSTAGE
Starring: James Mason, Barbara Rush, Christopher Olsen & Walter Matthau
Director: Nicholas Ray
Run time: 91 min approx
Extras: Feature commentary by Edward Buscombe; New filmed conversation about the film and Nicholas Ray between Jim Jarmusch and Jonathan Rosenbaum; Extracts from a 1969 interview with Nicholas Ray; Original theatrical trailer; Fully illustrated 22-page colour booklet with essays by Geoff Andrew, Jeanine Basinger & Susan Ray, plus biographies.
Bigger Than Life is one of the great American films of the 1950s, a high point in the careers of lead actor James Mason and director Nicholas Ray.
James Mason gives a towering performance as Ed Avery, a happily married schoolteacher who agrees to take a new ‘miracle drug’ when diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. It is not long before the drug begins producing malevolent and murderous side-effects that bring to the fore all of Ed’s long repressed frustrations with his life. Mason’s support is exceptional: Barbara Rush as Ed’s devoted wife, Christopher Olsen as his cruelly punished son and Walter Matthau as his faithful colleague.
One of the cinema’s most persuasive portraits of psychological turmoil, the film also succeeds magnificently as searing melodrama and subversive social critique, with Ray, his scriptwriters and cinematographer achieving a perfect balance between emotional realism and expressionist allegory.