Qty:1
& FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details
Only 14 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Bigger Than Life (The Cri... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details
Condition: Used: Like New
Trade in your item
Get up to a $7.59
Gift Card.
Other Sellers on Amazon
Add to Cart
$25.00
& FREE Shipping on eligible orders. Details
Sold by: actcdc
Add to Cart
$26.99
& FREE Shipping on eligible orders. Details
Sold by: newbury_comics
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Bigger Than Life (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

Additional Multi-Format options Edition Discs
Price
New from Used from
Multi-Format
(Mar 23, 2010)
"Please retry"
The Criterion Collection
1
$25.05
$25.00 $18.99

Geek Boutique 2016 Geek Boutique HQP

$25.05 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Bigger Than Life (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • +
  • In a Lonely Place (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Total price: $50.05
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A schoolteacher becomes violently addicted to a new wonder drug, cortisone. Directed by Nicholas Ray.

Amazon.com

Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life is a great American film long esteemed overseas but little known in its own land. That should change with this addition to the Criterion Collection--the film's first-ever U.S. video release, and a paradigm of what Criterion exists to do. James Mason (who also produced the picture) is wonderfully subtle in an unlikely role, a Middle American schoolteacher named Ed Avery who's afflicted with a rare inflammation of the arteries. Only experimental hormone treatment can save the man from increasing pain and early death--but misuse of the drug leads to a darkening and distortion of his gentle personality and a nightmare situation for his family. Bigger Than Life isn't a cautionary lesson in the perils of "miracle drugs," even if its genesis was a New Yorker article about a real-life case of cortisone abuse. Instead, consider the film as an adult, flip-side variant of Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (made the year before): an EKG of the American middle class in the Eisenhower era. The medical issues on the surface pale beside, in Jonathan Lethem's phrase, "the anxieties just under the skin of the film"--the personal, cultural, and socio-economic dilemmas that mostly remain unspoken, and unanswerable.

The picture is a landmark in the evolution of CinemaScope. Ray was among the first directors to explore the possibilities the wide screen held for psychological and emotional expressiveness (as opposed to mere pictorialism and spectacle), and he uses it brilliantly even though most of the film transpires within a middle-class home. The house is cunningly designed and visualized to seem commonplace, and probably '50s audiences in America registered it that way--just another glance at their everyday reality--while foreign audiences saw lucid and powerful abstraction. Ray invests every sector with dynamic potentiality and meaning, including the acre of thicket and scrub out back that realistically shouldn't be there a stone's throw from the Averys' picture-perfect suburban street. Add the director's bold use of color to underscore the disquiet and intensify the emotional environment, and we have an exemplary modern film. This comes through all the more strongly on the DVD and especially in Blu-ray; the home screen enhances both the abstraction and the specificity of Ray's vision. In the meticulous digital restoration of the original camera negative, the colors are more crisply and definitively there than in any shopworn repertory print or standard TV broadcast. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Audio commentary featuring critic Geoff Andrew
Profile of Nicholas Ray (1977), a half-hour television interview
New video appreciation of Bigger Than Life
New video interview with Susan Ray
Theatrical trailer
An essay by film writer B. Kite

Product Details

  • Actors: James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau
  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 23, 2010
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003152YVO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,960 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bigger Than Life (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
Talk about a film ahead of its time, Nicholas Ray's 1956 drama Bigger than Life tanked upon release in the US most likely because of its dark, brooding and unflinching observations on suburban life (the film is partially based on Ray's own childhood, if I'm recalling correctly.); people back then didn't want to be told about the monster next door, and to a lesser extent people today still don't want this, but Ray's film is so perfect in every respect that one can't look away from the screen for a moment.

Ray, like Fuller, unfortunately was, more or less, wholly ignored in the US during his life but was immensely popular with the Cahiers kids and I'm glad to see that in the past decade or so his films, besides the popular Rebel Without a Cause, are getting some serious reevaluations.
-----
Here's the details, for those interested, in regards to the Criterion release:

* 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 an essay by critic and video maker B. Kite
-----
Here is to hoping that they get their hands on Johnny Guitar.
Comment 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: DVD
In BIGGER THAN LIFE, director Nicholas Ray and producer/star James Mason explored the dark side of suburban life. James Mason delivers one of his most accomplished and subversive performances in this sadly-neglected 1956 movie gem, the story of a man pushed to the brink of madness thanks to his abuse of a 'miracle drug'.

Mild-mannered schoolteacher Ed Avery (James Mason) works hard to provide for his wife Lou (Barbara Rush) and young son Richie (Christopher Olsen), secretly working after-hours as a taxi switchboard operator. When Ed is struck down by a debilitating and potentially fatal illness, doctors prescribe wonder drug Cortisone, and it seems to do the trick. Ed feels more confident than he has in years, and loves to spoil the family with expensive trips to the department store. But Ed's dependence takes a darker turn when he begins taking the pills in larger quantities. Lou and Richie can only stand by helplessly as Ed angrily lashes out, hurling abuse and insults at his wife and son. The mood swings only get worse as the weeks wear on, to the moment when Ed finally cracks completely...

I won't try to spoil any major plot points. BIGGER THAN LIFE will surprise and shock you with it's hard-hitting subject matter, and the frank way it's depicted was I'm sure the main reason why the movie flopped in 1956. It's well and truly the flipside of "Father Knows Best". Today the movie still rings true because so many families are dealing with similar issues on a daily basis. James Mason and Barbara Rush are completely mesmerising to watch here. Child actors from the 1950's are normally very mannered and "trained" on screen, but young Christopher Olsen is heartbreaking as the tortured Richie; his performance absolutely rings true. Walter Matthau, Kipp Hamilton and Roland Winters are also very fine.
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie I saw many years ago and explained what had happened to my loving mother. I recommend this book to anyone whose mother or parent was used as a guinea pig for this drug. The doctor's never monitored what was happening to her mentally and the fallout on the family from the mental disturbances it created. Yes, it did keep her alive from asthmatic attacks but the emotional and physical damage to the children was massive. We nearly lost her with the suicidal thoughts and threats of driving off the hill highway to kill herself. It was many years later that the drug changed to safety measures. I am so grateful for the company that put this movie out. It explained the terror we went through. This raw drug turned a lovely person into a monster. Watch the movie.
2 Comments 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have this film in HD, but I wanted it on regular DVD so I could play it on my computer. This is a marvelous film made during the "wonder drug" era of the mid-1950's. James Mason has never been better, and this is a must-have for anyone who is a fan of his. The movie is an honest, sometimes uncomfortable look into American family structure in the era of "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver", but this time, because of a reaction to a medication that makes dad psychotic, the happy family dynamic is turned on its head. Very well-acted and well-made movie.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Bigger Than Life is a story about Ed Avery, who develops a stomach condition and must take the new drug cortisone in order to save his life. The effect is immediately positive. Ed seems like a new man, but pretty soon the side affects kick in and change Ed in a way that both shocks and concerns his family. This story had me gripped even before I saw the film. For starters, I love James Mason, especially his role as Professor Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth. In this film, he gives another performance of a lifetime. The movie takes no time in jumping right into the story and giving you all the facts you need. Yet, it does not give too much away so that you know the entire plot right away. It keeps you wanting more. *SPOILERS AHEAD* You watch James Mason slowly slip into a state of chaos as he grows fierce and moody. By the end, when he fights with Wally, played by Walter Matthau, you cannot wait to see what the outcome is. When the mother and the son are waiting in the hospital and the doctor reads them the diagnoses and the what will likely happen, I was waiting, and hoping for the worst as a matter of fact. Yet, in the end, we find that Ed has recovered completely and everyone will live happily ever after. What!? This whole movie sets itself up and executes itself like a movie way ahead of its time. It's intense and exciting, and even a bit frustrating. Yet the end slips back into a cliche ending that's entirely to cheesy and goes against the entire tone of the movie. Now I get that this movie is supposed to be a farce on the tradition American home, but I just felt that the ending was a bit of a let down. I would not have been upset if the outcome of Ed was a bit more harsh and depressing, but there was a ray of hope in the future.Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Bigger Than Life (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Bigger Than Life (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customers Also Watched on Amazon Video