One of the greatest American films of the 1950s and a high point in the careers of both the lead actor James Mason and director Nicholas Ray. Mason gives a towering performance as Ed Avery, a happily married schoolteacher who agrees to take a new 'miracle drug' when diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. It is not long before the drug begins producing malevolent and murderous side-effects that bring to the fore all of Ed's long-repressed frustrations with his life. Mason's support is, exceptional: Barbara Rush as Ed's devoted wife, Christopher Olsen a s his cruelly punished son and Walter Matthau as his faithful colleague. One of cinema's most persuasive portraits of psychological turmoil, the film also succeeds magnificently as searing melodrama and subversive social critique, with Ray, his scriptwriters and cinematographer achieving a perfect balance between emotional realism and exprer;sionist allegory.