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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
3:10 p.m. Bigger Than Life
Nicholas Ray (US, 1956)

Lecture/Emily Carpenter

One of Nicholas Ray's least-known films is also acclaimed by many critics as his best, featuring James Mason (who also produced) in one of his finest performances. Mason portrays a small-town schoolteacher who secretly moonlights at a cab company to supplement his salary. When he begins taking cortisone to ward off the crippling effects of a rare form of arthritis, the side effects of the drug produce a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation: his sense of failure as a breadwinner plays off against delusions of grandeur, and he devises increasingly alarming schemes that threaten not only his livelihood but the very survival of his family.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Cyril Hume, Richard Malbaum, based on a New Yorker article by Berton Roueche. Photographed by Joe MacDonald. With James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau, Christopher Olsen. (95 mins, Color, 'Scope, 35mm, From Criterion/20th Century Fox)