Ten Feet Tall Essay

Ten Feet Tall Essay

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To begin with, there is a significant difference between the plot of Berton Roueché’s short story, “Ten Feet Tall” (1955) and of Nicholas Ray’s dir. adaptation of it in his movie Bigger Than Life (1956). Both plots deal with characters who suffer from manic-depressive psychosis due to their cortisone drug addiction, but Robert Laurence’s condition is not self-inflicted. This mild-mannered character falls victim to medical malpractice as his physician prescribes high doses of cortisone, which Robert does not question because of his child-like faith of “doctor knows best”. Whereas Ed Avery’s dominant and impertinent character breaks loose and takes it upon himself to increase his doses, pretends to be a doctor at a pharmacy and writes his own prescription. The differences between these two characters make an interesting twist in Nicholas Ray´s adaptation of the plot of “Ten Feet Tall”.
Additionally, these two very different plots built on the addiction to cortisone portray opposite types of genres. Roueche’s “Ten Feet Tall” is a short story written for the New York Times under the title “The Annals of Medicine” and illustrates the true story of a schoolteacher, Robert, who becomes critically ill. While Bob’s story could fall under the category of science fiction, revealing medical advantages in drug productions and their side effects, Ed Avery’s addiction to drugs displays his manic consumerist society as a scientific, horror film. Cortisone, in Ed’s case, is a manifestation of the American dream gone wrong. The diabolical intake of large, societal doses of rules, discipline, religion, education, non-dependency, life standards, status and power, demonstrates the thin line between living the dream and manic behavior. Specifically, ...


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...r and second Red Scare. The Cold War, collisions of scientific advantages and technical progress altered society’s state of mind. Paranoia infested itself into the minds of nations, particularly the U.S, leading to science fictional themes or analogues of subversion and destruction of the American Dream in stories and movies.



Works Cited

Bigger Than Life. Dir. Nicholas Ray. 20th Century Fox, 1956. DVD.
Ellis, John. “The Literary Adaptation.” Screen (1982) 23 (1): 3-5.
Rebel Without a Cause. Dir. Nicholas Ray. Warner Bros, 1955. DVD.
Roueche, Berton. “Ten Feet Tall.” The New Yorker 10 September 1955. Print.
Sanders, Julie. Adaptation and Appropriation. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Wilson, Timothy D., et al. “The pleasures of uncertainty: prolonging positive moods in ways people do not anticipate.” Journal of personality and social psychology 88.1 (2005): 5.

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