I have a friend who refuses to apologise for drunken antics, saying we get a truer/bigger expression of who he is. I fear this has a startling impact on this film, a barely-contained excoriation of suburban values which quickly erases a thin veneer that masks the difference between content and hatred. Indeed it's big, maybe broad, and shocking, hard to believe from its time and place.
A drug that breaks the looking glass and reveals the shabby inanity of the world in which one's spent a whole life? Someone fill that poor man with morphine and turn up the television! A churningly strange film, strikingly erratic both morally and visually, lurid and vapid in turns, Bigger Than Life is above all a teetering tour de force for Mason, perfect in his role precisely because he seems so wrong for it.
So cortisone turned james mason into a nazi? Or maybe he was always like that, we don't really get to see much of him before he starts gulping pulls down his throat. Has there been a more honest film about pharmaceutical drug abuse since this movie? It seems like it's a taboo subject even now. A incredibly powerful film now as I'm sure it must have been then. And was that suppose to be a "happy ending"?
Heureux avec sa femme Lou et leur fils Richie, l'instituteur Ed Avery est victime d'une grave attaque cardiaque. Son seul espoir d'échapper à la mort est un nouveau médicament appelé "cortisone". Hélas, les effets secondaires de ce remède considéré comme miraculeux, le rendent particulièrement agressif, égoïste, voire violent, envers son entourage ..... REMARQUABLE ! www.cinefiches.com
Sporadically great, Ray's film looks for a constant balance in terms of the symbolism it tries to convey. Sometimes it gets painfully obvious and sometimes it is unnecessarily ambiguous. Concurrently, it's a melodrama shot as a horror film. Bigger Than Life tries to be too many things at once. When it succeeds, it soars... but often times it doesn't. Still, it inspired two masterpieces: The Shining and Vertigo.
Resolving one family's struggle around capital options of life-changing survival or inevitable death in such a trivial manner seems more like a pun on the viewer then something a credible director might actually come up with... And all at the cost of building up tension through the whole thing giving it certain cold Stephen-King-ish aura, seeming it could deliver a whole lot more.
I always love settling into the vivid color & squeaky clean fundamentals of films from 1950's — and this one satisfied. While Cortisone seemed like a silly choice for the metaphor (and foreshadowing) of prescription drug addiction, the film still works; all characters stealing my sympathies and remaining thoughtful, dimensional centerpieces — not just 50's cutouts. Plus, aspiring DPs will will drool to these shadows!
“Three R’s? That’s just a catch phrase. Before it’s too late we ought to get back to the real fundamentals, and I’m not just talking of primary education now. We are breeding a race of moral midgets. All this hogwash about self expression, permissiveness, development patterns, emotional security. Security, with the world ready to blow up!” Sweet, sweet mania. This is like Sirk on meth. And I love it...
What mastery Ray had for capturing ideas into single frames. A full-shot of a table at diner time; a false mask for a broken down household. An over-the-shoulder shot on a mirror; showing an individual's interior wounds. A shadow created and enlarged by a low-angle shot; expressing horror in the quotidian. A masterpiece.