Now With More Than 3000 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 2500 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to MAKSQUIBS@yahoo.com . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956)


It plays out like a modern Jekyll & Hyde story, told as a cautionary tale; a suburban nightmare with the ring of truth to it. James Mason, who also produced, is superb as a financially strapped high school teacher who needs to take a life-saving experimental drug for his incurable condition. But the self-administered cortisone gives him such a physical & mental lift that he starts over-dosing. Within days his mood swings are out of control and he’s hopelessly addicted, a freak at work and a scary menace to his wife & son. Helmer Nicholas Ray was a troubled soul, personally & professionally, but his manic-depressive nature chimed perfectly within this narrative frame. The stylistic over-reaches of color in JOHNNY GUITAR/’54 and his growing comfort with the CinemaScope format he first used on REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE/’55 achieve a maturity & balance on this perfectly scaled project that he never quite repeated. (Those rows of yellow taxis, the shadowy doppelgängers on the wall, the Posters-of-the-World decor; to say nothing of the great supporting perfs, including Barbara Rush’s wife & Walter Matthau’s best friend.) And if the story’s ‘push-me/pull-you’ manipulation doesn’t deliver the level of satisfaction found in the circular plotting & sophisticated character studies of THE LUSTY MEN/’52 (Ray’s shamefully undervalued masterpiece), this remains remarkable moviemaking. And don’t miss author Jonathan Lethem's enthusiatic observations, one of the Extras on this gorgeously remastered Criterion DVD.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Does composer David Raksin run a few cues in reverse for an eerie effect? Sounds that way.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY2: There’s an OTT nature to many of the great ‘50s melodramas by Minnelli, Sirk, Ray et al. that skirt the very edge of audience comfort zones. Seen in a theater, there’s always a risk for a ‘bad laugh.’ (Quentin Tarantino refuses to try a Sirk style film because of it.) So, home-viewing may actually be the best way to watch these great works. Alone on a couch, no one can hear you giggle inappropriately.

CONTEST: Three actors in this film have prominent roles in key Alfred Hitchcock pics. Name the actors, and the Hitchcock features, to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS WriteUp of the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

No comments: