May 1, 2017

Bigger Than Life.

Review #928: Bigger Than Life.

James Mason (Ed Avery), Barbara Rush (Lou Avery), Walter Matthau (Wally Gibbs), Robert F. Simon (Dr. Norton), Christopher Olsen (Richie Avery), Roland Winters (Dr. Ruric), and Rusty Lane (Bob LaPorte) Directed by Nicholas Ray (#181 - Rebel Without a Cause)

For the time this was made (in the middle of the 1950s), this certainly stood among movies that revolved around the life of a family, especially considering its subject matter (based off a 1955 story in The New Yorker named Ten Feet Tall by Berton Roueché). While it does serve as a cautionary tale about overuse of medications (with cortisone - discovered less than a decade prior to the release of this film), it also manages to weave a tale about conformity and family life. Granted, the highlight is undeniably Mason (who also produced the film), showing different kinds of emotions through the film that seems convincing; these range from being a caring family man to being in pain to being infused with megalomania, and he does it without going over the top (I do wonder if this could be cut into a horror film, especially the ending). Matthau does an understated job in a supporting role, playing the role neatly enough. Rush also does a good job in the movie as well, neither just being the other lead in a movie with a character as larger than life as Mason plays; she manages to show us her side of what she sees in the life of her household. It's strange how a scene involving a broken mirror can work so well in showing both Mason and Rush at their best, but it just helps with showing the fractured nature of the things to come. Olsen is the weak link of the three (but being a child actor, I'll cut some slack), but he does a well enough job in being as natural as one can be, and he also does a fine job in the climax. In a movie that flows well at 95 minutes, the climax is given fine buildup while also delivering in delivering drama along with suspense. This isn't a movie that relents nor allows any easy kind of cheap critiques, merely allowing this drama to play out. It has its moments of fine drama that will assuredly work for anyone looking for a film that doesn't hold judgement.

Happy May Day, folks.

Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.

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