Now I have had to make this distinction a couple of times but let me reiterate this again. Just because I do not own a movie does not mean I have never seen it. There are HUNDREDS of movies that I have enjoyed watching and never got around to buying. Luckily, my friends tend to buy me some of these movies I am missing, such as today’s movie, The Fly (1958).
The plot: A guard is clocking in for his job as a night watchman at Delambre Freres Electronics and as he is making his rounds, he hears one of the hydraulic presses being used and finds a woman, who quickly runs off, and the remains of a man, whose head and left arm had been crushed by the press. The woman, Helene Delambre, calls her brother in law Francois and tells him that she killed her husband Andre and begs that he help her and call the police and come over before she breaks down in tears. As soon as Francois hangs up, the phone rings again, this time the night watchman Gaston, and after speaking with him, Francois calls Inspector Charas and explains what has happened. Charas and Francois arrive at the plant and Francois activates the press to raise it. As he examines the controls, he realizes that Helene could not have set the controls the way they were. After confirming the identity of the body by a scar on his leg, Francois notices the stroke count and realizes that whoever did this used the press twice, which Gaston confirms hearing it twice. Francois and Charas head to Helene’s house and are met by the family doctor, who says she is surprisingly calm about what happened, though he can’t believe it himself. Francois and Charas see Helene and Charas begins questioning her. She answers most of their questions but there are some times where she says she can’t answer that question. Suddenly, Helene stops and wanders over to a lamp, where a fly had landed, and she stares at it for a while before slapping it away, which Francois and Charas find odd. Francois leads Charas down to Andre’s lab, which they find in ruins. Helene is placed under observation and she seems fine, until her nurse kills a fly, which causes Helene to go into hysterics. As Charas and Francois talk about this, Charas feels that the only possible outcome for Helene is that she will be found either guilty of murder, or insane. That night, Francois is having dinner with Philippe, Andre and Helene’s son, and Philippe says that he saw the fly that his mother was looking for on Francois’ desk. Francois questions Philippe about the fly and Philippe said it was different from other flies as it has a white head and odd leg and that he first saw it the day his dad disappeared. He had caught it once but his mother told him to let it go, but a few days later, she asked that he catch it again. Francois goes to see Helene and tells her that he caught the fly and she asks if he killed it but he tells her no and pressures her for the truth. Helene relents and says that she will if he promises to destroy the fly after wards, then asks that he have Charas come there as she doesn’t want to repeat the story. When Charas gets there, Helene says that she killed Andre but she was not a murderess, merely following Andre’s last wishes. In flashback, Andre and Helene are playing with Philippe before Andre takes Helene down to his lab and shows her his latest project, a matter transporter. He shows her a test using a wedding gift they received and Helene can’t believe it really happened. When she notices a small crack in the plate, Andre grows concerned and begins going through his notes. Some time later, Andre appears to have solved the problem, then decides to test it on the family cat but when he activates the device, the cat disappears but does not reappear in the second chamber and Andre can hear the cat’s meow crying out in the ether. After two weeks of being locked in his lab, Andre emerges and decides to take Helene out to celebrate, then takes her down to the lab and shows her that he fixed the transporter. When he uses it on a guinea pig, Helene is concerned but it appears in the second chamber just fine. When Andre tells her that when he tried it with the cat, it didn’t work, Helene begs him not to experiment with animals anymore. The next day, Francois comes over for lunch and Andre had planned to show him the transporter but when Helene and Francois head to the lab, they find a note on there saying not to disturb him. As they head back upstairs, Philippe enters the house and tells his mom about the weird fly he caught but she makes him let it go. That night, Helene goes down to the lab and finds a note from Andre, asking for a bowl of milk and saying that there was an accident and he can’t speak. After getting the milk, Andre lets Helene into the lab but he has his face covered and keeps his left hand hidden. As Helen tries to talk to him, he gets upset and reveals his hand has become that of a fly. The next morning, Helene finds a note from Andre outside the lab explaining that he had built human sized transporters and tested them on himself and it worked the first time but the second time, a fly had gotten in the chamber and their atoms were mixed up. Reading this, Helene realizes the fly that Philippe caught must have been the one from the chamber and she goes upstairs and tells Philippe to catch it, as well as their maid. They finally find the fly in the study and try to capture it but it escapes out into the garden. When Helene goes to tell Andre the bad news, he grows depressed and types a note saying it is hopeless. Helene tells him not to give up hope but he types that it is getting harder for him to think straight. Helene asks him to try and use the device again and see if it will fix him and he reluctantly agrees, but after he goes through, Helen pulls off the cover and reveals a giant fly’s head where Andre’s should be. Helen screams and passes out and Andre lays her down on a bed before proceeding to destroy his lab. When Helen recovers, Andre writes a note on his blackboard, saying he loves her, then has her follow him to their factory. Once there, Andre sets up the press, then lays down on it and has Helene hit the button so that he will be crushed, and all evidence of what happened to him will be destroyed. Helene activates the press, then throws herself onto the press to die with him. Andre shoves her out of the way, but in the process, his left arm is not crushed by the press. Seeing this, Helene raises the press, the places the arm underneath it and activates it again in order to fulfill Andre’s wishes. Back in the present, Francois and Charas speak about the matter and Charas says that he feels that Helene will be found insane and the only way to prove her innocence is to show him the fly. The next day, Francois is sitting in the garden as Charas and the doctors arrive to take Helene away, not noticing that the fly is caught in a spider’s web nearby. As the doctors are restraining Helene, Philippe starts to come into the room and Francois stops him from seeing his mom being taken away. As Francois is leading Philippe away, Philippe tells him that he saw the fly and Francois gets Charas and convinces him to follow him into the garden. Once there, Philippe points out the web and Francois tells him to go back into the house. Francois and Charas stare as the fly, fully sporting Andre’s head and arm and screaming out “Help me!” as the spider approaches and bites him. A horrified Charas uses a rock to smash both the spider and fly and Francois says that he committed murder just as much as Helene did. The two of them then work out a way to explain Andre’s death as a suicide, and Charas goes to tell the doctors to release Helene. Some time later, Francois goes to visit Helene and Philippe and Philippe asks why his father had to die and Francois says that the search for truth is the most important act for humanity, but also the most dangerous.
The Fly (1958) was highly praised by the critics, holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Deliciously funny to some and eerily presicient to others, The Fly walks a fine line between shlocky fun and unnerving nature parable. The movie was a commercial success, earning $3 million off of a $495,000 budget. The movie would spawn two sequels, as a remake in 1986, which spawned it’s own sequel. This would wind up being the biggest hit of director Kurt Neumann, though he would never find out as he died a month after it premiered.
This is such a classic sci-fi/horror movie that is still great to watch. The acting was good, with Patricia Owens doing a fantastic job as Helene, while Vincent Price (Francois), David Hedison (Andre), and Herbert Marshall (Charas) also doing good jobs in their roles. The story was great, using great elements of science fiction to tell a story that also illustrates how, despite taking every precaution, sometimes accidents occur with disastrous results. The special effects regarding the fly mask, as well as the scene with Andre’s head on the fly’s body (which is still really creepy when you add in the scream), were both very well done. If you like sci-fi or horror movies, then this is absolutely a must see movie for you.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5