Release Date: July 16th, 1958
Directed by: Kurt Neumann
Written by: James Clavell
Based on: The Fly by George Langelaan
Music by: Paul Sawtell
Cast: Al Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Kathleen Freeman
Regal Films, Twentieth Century Fox, 94 Minutes
“I shall never forget that scream as long as I live…” – Inspector Charas
People love the hell out of the 1986 remake of The Fly but with that, they really sleep on this one. Plus, this also features Vincent Price, so that alone makes it worth a watch.
Anyway, this is pretty damn good for its time. Price isn’t the main character and his role is sort of a bookend to the larger story, as he appears early in the film to inspire the wife of The Fly to tell her story and then is there at the end, just in time for the big climax.
The story follows a scientist, who is working on teleportation technology in the basement of his large house. As the film rolls on, he gets more and more reckless with his experiments and takes risks he shouldn’t. Eventually, he ends up experimenting on himself but accidentally lets a fly into the machine and turns himself into a half man/half fly monster. Also, there is a fly with a white head flying around. Once we see that fly up close, we discover that the scientist’s human head is attached to it.
The main character is really the wife, played by Patricia Owens, who had to really carry the picture, as the scientist becomes The Fly and thus, has his face obscured, as he hides in the basement. It’s the wife that you really connect to, as she tries to be supportive and help her husband but ultimately, has to deal with heartbreak and desperation as things continue to spiral out of control. All the while, she’s trying to be protective of her young son.
Owens did a solid job in this and she really turned the drama up, which worked like glue, holding the picture together but also making the film feel more legitimate than just a simple 1950s creature feature.
The ending is really f’d up and kind of terrifying in how it was shot and presented on the screen. The sound of the little fly screaming is pretty effective and still disturbing. Sure, the effects look hokey now but it’s all just kind of surreal and gruesome.
The Fly is one of my favorite movies with Vincent Price in it before he started hooking up with Roger Corman on their Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.
Pairs well with: its sequels and ’80s remakes, as well as other ’50s creature features.