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Breaking Bigger Than Bad Life

August 24, 2012

I was just reading François Truffaut’s review of Bigger Than Life, the Nicholas Ray film starring James Mason, when I was struck by the similarities between that film and Breaking Bad. Both introduce us to a mild-mannered high school teacher who, although he feels even that job is beneath him, is forced to take an even lowlier second job that involves cars (taxi dispatcher in the one case, car wash cashier in the other) to make ends meet. He keeps his moonlighting secret from his family. He then discovers that he has a fatal illness, which leads him to become involved with drugs (cortisone as a treatment for the disease, crystal meth as a source of funds to keep his family financially secure), which leads him to hubris, dickishness, moral corruption, and monstrosity.

The question is, had Vince Gilligan seen Bigger Than Life when he created Breaking Bad, and if so, was he conscious of totally  ripping it off or was it one of those George Harrison “My Sweet Lord” situations?

Both the movie and and the show are very good and worth watching, but the movie will take up significantly less of your time and doesn’t clutter the screen with quite so many bald men.

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