The Fly

Director: Kurt Neumann, Vincent Price, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall

Cast: Kurt Neumann, Vincent Price, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall


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Wealthy Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) is discovered late at night in the factory owned by her husband Andre (David Hedison). Helene stands beside a huge metal press, which has crushed the head and arm of her husband. Held for murder, the near-catatonic Helene refuses to tell anyone--not even Andre's brother Francois (Vincent Price)--why she did it. Francois cannot


Wealthy Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) is discovered late at night in the factory owned by her husband Andre (David Hedison). Helene stands beside a huge metal press, which has crushed the head and arm of her husband. Held for murder, the near-catatonic Helene refuses to tell anyone--not even Andre's brother Francois (Vincent Price)--why she did it. Francois cannot help but notice that Helene reacts in mortal terror when a tiny flies zips through the room. Nor can he disregard the statement made by Helene's son Philippe (Charles Herbert) that the fly has a curious white head and leg. When Francois pretends that he's captured the fly, Helene relaxes enough to tell her story. It seems that Andre, a scientist, had been working on a matter transmitter, which he claimed could disintegrate matter, then reintegrate it elsewhere. After a few experiments, Andre tried the transmitter himself. Just as he stepped into the disintegration chamber, a fly also flew into the chamber. We aren't immediately shown the results of this, save for the fact that Andre afterward insists upon keeping his head and arm covered. Alone with her husband, Helene abruptly removes the covering, revealing that Andre now bears the head of a fly! His atoms have become mixed up with the fly, and now he is unable to reverse the procedure. Deciding that his transmitter will be a bogy rather than a blessing to mankind, Andre smashes the apparatus and burns his notes. He then instructs Helene, via body language, to crush his fly-like head and arm in the press. Neither Francois nor inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) believe the story...until, while staring intently at a spider's web in the garden, they see a tiny entrapped fly with Andre's head and arm, tinnily screaming "Help me! Help me!" as the slavering spider approaches (If you're wondering why Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall do not look one another in the eye during this scene, it is because they couldn't deliver their dialogue without dissolving into laughter). Infinitely subtler than the admittedly excellent 1986 remake, the 1958 The Fly is one of the definitive big-budget horror films of its decade. Best bit: the prismatic "fly's eye view" of the screaming Patricia Owens. The Fly was adapted from George Langelaan's short story by James (Shogun) Clavell.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - R.J. Wafer
Less a traditional monster movie than a mad-scientist story of monstrous psychological terror, The Fly remains a timeless fright film, featuring the venerable Vincent Price during his horror pinnacle, the same year he creeped out audiences in The House on Haunted Hill. Patricia Owens stars as Helene, a distraught woman who claims to be responsible for the death of her husband, brilliant scientist Andre Delambre (David Hedison). Price plays Francois, Andre's brother, who is profoundly skeptical of Helene's murder confession (he says she "wouldn't harm anything...not even a fly"). But then Helene describes how a glitch occurred during her husband's matter-transmitting experiment -- a housefly got into the transmitter's chamber -- and the horror reveals itself in flashback as Andre's head and arm metamorphose into those of a fly. And for every fly body part transmitted to a human, a human appendage must be transmitted in return, leading to the film's infamous climax, certainly one of the most shocking moments of its day: a doomed fly in the toils of a spider's web -- screaming. Price reprised the character of Francois in 1959's The Return of the Fly, a fine film as sequels go but not as definitive as its predecessor. Director David Cronenberg remade The Fly to great effect with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis in 1986.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
While time has added a patina of camp to The Fly, it still holds up surprisingly well. Vincent Price, often willing to ham it up in a lesser story, plays this film quite straight, to the benefit of the story, and director Kurt Neumann's pacing is thankfully subtle, beginning on a note of anxiety and maintaining an eerie unease throughout. If David Hedison and Patricia Owens don't come off as much more than the standard-issue Dedicated Scientist Meddling In What Man Should Leave Alone and his Loving But Concerned Wife, at least they walk through the clichés with conviction. Visually, The Fly is several cuts above typical 1950s sci-fi fare; Karl Struss's CinemaScope camerawork uses color and the widescreen frame with style and understated intelligence, and the effects makeup for the Human Fly (as well as the fly-sized human) still merits a startled jump. While David Cronenberg's 1986 remake certainly beats the original for visceral impact, the original The Fly still feels like one of the best fright films of its era, and its impact and influence are still being felt today.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary with actor David Hedison

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vincent Price Francois
Patricia Owens Helene
Herbert Marshall Inspector Charas
Kathleen Freeman Emma
Betty Lou Gerson Nurse Andersone
Charles Herbert Philippe
Eugene Borden Dr. Ejoute
Torben Meyer Gaston
Franz Roehn Police Doctor
Charles Tannen Doctor
Harry Carter Orderly
David Hedison Andre
Arthur Dulac French Waiter
Al Hedison Actor

Technical Credits
Kurt Neumann Director,Producer
L.B. Abbott Special Effects
Adele Balkan Costumes/Costume Designer
Eli Benneche Set Decoration/Design
James Clavell Screenwriter
Eugene Grossman Sound/Sound Designer
Theobold Holsopple Art Director
George Langelaan Original Story
Charles LeMaire Costumes/Costume Designer
Harry M. Leonard Sound/Sound Designer
Ben Nye Makeup
Paul Sawtell Score Composer
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Bert Shefter Score Composer
Karl Struss Cinematographer
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
Merrill White Editor,Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Fly
1. Main Titles [1:33]
2. Murder! [4:38]
3. Scene of the Crime [3:07]
4. The Serene Killer [5:20]
5. The Laboratory [2:18]
6. They Think I'm Mad [:45]
7. Mommy and The Fly [4:05]
8. Helene's Secret [2:23]
9. Andre's Miracle [3:49]
10. Catastrophe [3:59]
11. Celebration [3:35]
12. A Complete Success [3:53]
13. To Be Alive [4:35]
14. A Funny-Looking Fly [2:03]
15. A Serious Accident [1:54]
16. Andres's Mistake [2:37]
17. Find The Fly [1:29]
18. Losing Hope [:37]
19. Behind The Mask [7:06]
20. The Only Solution [2:26]
21. An Impossible Story [3:30]
22. Under Arrest [2:30]
23. Help Me [4:12]
24. Why Did He Die? [6:03]

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