Saturday, March 1, 2014

#495: Bigger Than Life

Directed by: NICHOLAS RAY
1956, TSPDT Rank #678

It's not hard to see why Nicholas Ray's explosive CinemaScope deconstruction of picture-perfect 1950s America was "ignored" by audiences upon its release. Released right in the midst of the era of the manufactured family values and phony appearances it attempts to undermine, and starring none other than James Mason (one of the most famous film stars of the time), Bigger Than Life is one fearless and subversive film. James Mason plays a loving father, husband, and schoolteacher who becomes addicted to a dangerous experimental drug which is the only thing between him and death, and his family and friends do everything they can to maintain the illusion that everything is okay - when Mason is in fact turning into a malicious and maniacal monster right in front of their eyes. Almost a suburban Technicolor cousin to the gothic nightmare of The Night of the Hunter, this nerve-shattering film has to be seen to be believed - and will cause the jaw of anyone familiar with the era it was produced during to hang open in disbelief for a good 30 minutes after the film has ended. "ABRAHAM!"

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