Blu-ray Review: The Fly (1958, Dir. Kurt Neumann)

The Fly (1958)

When I was a kid, my first exposure to The Fly (1958) came from its two sequels. Return Of The Fly (1959) got the most airtime during those informative years. I knew of the first movie from the various monster movie books I used to read, in which every photo of The Fly was black and white, so you can imagine my surprise when I finally did see it and found it was a color film.

I was fascinated with insects and spiders when I was a kid, and began to look at the common fly in a whole new light after seeing the first sequel one Sunday morning. I even went outside afterwards to try to catch one. When I was a kid, I was somewhat disappointed when I finally did see the first film. I always thought the huge fly head in Return of The Fly was cooler than the smaller human sized one used in the David Hedison color film. I got over that disappointment a long time ago, though, and think both fly heads are pretty damn cool now.

I was also surprised to find The Fly movie to be essentially a flashback tale. That disappointed me at first, but that’s not even remotely an issue any longer. As the film opens, a night watchman at the Delambre Electronics factory discovers a woman fleeing from one of the hydraulic presses and the bloody remains of someone who has been squashed by it.

Later on, this woman, Helene Dalambre (Patricia Owens), calls her brother-in-law, Francois (Vincent Price) and confesses that she has killed her husband. Francios places a frantic call to a local detective, Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) and together try to get to the bottom of why, out of the blue, this typically sane woman would commit such a heinous act. She admits her crime, hints that her own husband may have wanted this to happen, but refuses to tell them why she did it.

Helene is confined to her home and watched over by a nurse while Francios and Charas decide what they want to do. During dinner with his nephew, Philippe (Charles Herbert), the little boy tells Francios that his mother was desperately searching for a fly with a white head. Concocting a plan to get her to tell him something, anything, really, Francios bluffs that he has caught the white headed fly and needs to know how this happened.

At the 28-minute mark, Helene finally caves in and tells him and Charas why she squashed his head and arm under that press. We now flash back to when Andre Delambre (David Hedison, billed as Al Hedison for this movie, which is explained in the commentary) was alive and still—human! We learn he’s a scientist, a rich one at that, who has made an incredible scientific discovery. He’s created a machine that can breakdown the molecular structure of any object and transport them through space to another desired location and reintegrate them back to what they were. Essentially, he’s cracked teleportation.

In the beginning, though, we see he can only teleport inanimate objects, but when he finally gets the bugs worked out, he’s finally able to teleport biological matter without any problem. The initial accident he has that this whole movie revolves around is never shown. We’re told it occurred some time before Helene takes Francios down to the basement lab so that Andre can show him what’s he’s been working on in secret, but they are greeted by a message taped to the door telling them he’s too busy.

Andrea eventually confides in Helene, telling her that when he teleported himself, a fly had gotten into the machine with him, and when they reintegrated in the room nearby, his head and arm was swapped with the fly’s head and arm.

Helene has no idea what he looks like. Whenever he welcomes her into the lab, he keeps a black cloth over his head and his arm in his pocket. He communicates with her by typewriter or by tapping once for yes and twice for no. Time is of the essence. His mind is slowly giving way to the fly’s and soon he will be nothing but a monster. His plan is to get that fly and take it back through the teleporter hoping both of their molecules will unscramble.

The Fly has been released previously on DVD several times, most notably in a box set back in 2007 with its two sequels, an extra disc of bonus material, and a booklet. Yet, the film has not seen the light of day on blu-ray until now. This 2.35:1 HD anamorphic remaster is gorgeous to look at too. Colors pop. The English DTS-HD MA 4.0 audio is quite and improvement as well. Other audio options include Spanish and French in Dolby Digital Mono and German in DTS 4.0.

Subtitles are included for English, Spanish, French, and German.

As for extra features, the audio commentary with David Hedison and Film Historian, David Del Valle have been ported over as well as three of the featurettes that were included on the extras disc in that 2007 collection: Biography: Vincent Price (1997) (44:03), Fly Trap: Catching A Classic (11:30) and Fox Movietone News (:53).

Bad news for you collectors who have not gone blu-ray yet, a standard DVD of this new remaster is also available but it only comes with the commentary.
If like me you own the 2007 collection you can rid yourself of The Fly but should still keep the extras disc for the photos and posters included were not ported over.

Here’s to hoping the two sequels also got a blu-ray upgrade in the future.

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