Nicholas Ray

Bigger Than Life

Bigger Than Life

Though ignored at the time of its release, Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life is now recognized as one of the great American films of the 1950s. When a friendly, successful suburban teacher and father (James Mason, in one of his most indelible roles) is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug, resulting in his transformation into a psychotic and ultimately violent household despot. This Eisenhower-era throat-grabber, shot in expressive CinemaScope, is an excoriating take on the nuclear family. That it came in the day of Father Knows Best makes it all the more shocking—and wildly entertaining.

Film Info

  • Nicholas Ray
  • United States
  • 1956
  • 95 minutes
  • Color
  • 2.35:1
  • English
  • Spine #507

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring critic Geoff Andrew (The Films of Nicholas Ray)
  • Profile of Nicholas Ray (1977), a half-hour television interview with the director
  • New video appreciation of Bigger Than Life with author Jonathan Lethem (Chronic City)
  • New video interview with Susan Ray, widow of the director and editor of I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray on Making Movies
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and video maker B. Kite

New cover by F. Ron Miller

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring critic Geoff Andrew (The Films of Nicholas Ray)
  • Profile of Nicholas Ray (1977), a half-hour television interview with the director
  • New video appreciation of Bigger Than Life with author Jonathan Lethem (Chronic City)
  • New video interview with Susan Ray, widow of the director and editor of I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray on Making Movies
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and video maker B. Kite

New cover by F. Ron Miller

Bigger Than Life
Cast
James Mason
Ed Avery
Barbara Rush
Lou Avery
Walter Matthau
Wally Gibbs
Robert Simon
Dr. Norton
Christopher Olsen
Richie Avery
Roland Winters
Dr. Ruric
Credits
Director
Nicholas Ray
Producer
James Mason
Story and screenplay
Cyril Hume
Story and screenplay
Richard Maibaum
Based on an article in the New Yorker by
Burton Roueché
Cinematography
Joe MacDonald, A.S.C.
Music
David Raksin
Conducted by
Lionel Newman
Editing
Louis Loeffler

From The Current

A Birthday Tribute to Nicholas Ray
A Birthday Tribute to Nicholas Ray

On the anniversary of his birth, we’re celebrating Hollywood renegade Nicholas Ray with complete editions of three of his masterpieces on the Criterion Channel.

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Aug 7, 2017
Bigger Than Life:
Somewhere in Suburbia

1. A Park—Night A man aflame is running directly toward camera. This image, which comes from Nicholas Ray’s initial treatment for Rebel Without a Cause, might stand at the head of almost any of Ray’s movies, since it so clearly embodies somet…

By B. Kite


Mar 18, 2010