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THE FLY - 1958
20th Century Fox
Rated: No rating
me . . . Help me . . . "
The scene is more famous than the movie. THE FLY, Directed by Kurt Neumann and written by George Langelann
(RETURN OF THE FLY, THE FLY , THE FLY II) and James Clavell (THE SATAN BUG), has an excellent opening. A watchman is just arriving at a factory when he hears machinery being operated. He follows the noise and sees a woman standing near a large
industrial press. The machine is clearly the source of the noise and when
the woman sees the watchman she runs. Upon closer investigation the watchman
makes a grisly discovery: the corpse of a man whose head and left arm
have been crushed by the press.
Cut to Francois Delambre (Vincent Price: THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, THE
ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) receiving a phone call from his sister-in-law. She calmly informs him that she has killed his brother André. Francois
doesn't believe her but promises to come right over. Before he can
leave he receives a second call, this time from the night watchman at
what turns out to be a factory owned by the Delambre family. The watchman
tells him about the corpse and the woman, who he recognized as Mrs. Delambre,
Francois calls police inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall: GOG) - the story takes place in France - and everyone
meets down at the factory. Francois confirms that the corpse with the crushed head is his brother André by identifying a scar on the corpse's leg.
Charas and Francois go to André's house and find his wife Helene (Patricia Owens: THE DESTRUCTORS, GHOST SHIP) relaxed and happy and perfectly willing to admit that she killed her husband but unwilling to say why.
Francois seems more upset that Helene is in trouble than that his brother
is dead which leads Charas to at first suspect a love triangle.
Hints of something more unusual come in the form of Helene's obsession with
examining every fly she notices, and a story from Phillipe (Charles Herbert: THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK, 13 GHOSTS), André and Helene's young son, about a frantic search for a "fly with a white head".
Eventually Helene breaks down and tells the story.
We flash back to the week before and find that André (David
Albert Hedison: LIVE AND LET DIE) is a successful inventor. He shows his
wife his latest invention: a working teleporter. This device is able to
disintegrate matter, beam it to a receiver, and reintegrate it back into
solid matter again. It functions well on inanimate material but living
things don't seem to make the trip. Of course, once he thinks the
bugs (ha!) are worked out, the brave scientist
must try it himself.
The idea of teleportation has been a favorite of sci-fi forever, right
up there with warp drive, but the details have always been glossed over
and this is no exception. Im sure youve heard of "E =
mc2" ? This famous Einstein equation tells you how much energy you
get when you convert matter into energy. "E" is energy, "m"
is mass and "c" is the speed of light. If we use metric units,
a full grown man masses about 85 kilograms. The speed of light is pretty
close to 300,000 kilometers / second or 3 X 108 meters / second so plugging
these numbers in gives us an energy of 7.65 x 1018 kg-m2/sec2 or 7.65
x 1018 Joules. In case that means nothing to you, it's equivalent
to 1800 megatons of TNT (about 90 good, old-fashioned H-bombs). Not exactly the kind of experiment you want your husband
doing in the basement.
The well known resolution that comes when the experiment goes horribly wrong is
fascinating but raises a lot of questions. If he trades heads with a fly*,
wouldn't that means he trades brains? Why would he still be himself
at all? Regardless, that portion of the movie is well played if a bit
of a let down from the good, mysterious build up from the first half.
If you're a fan of horror and sci-fi then THE FLY is a must-see movie, but it's not going to knock your
socks off or anything. I give it three shriek girls.
copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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One of the most famous scenes in this movie is when the husband,
now with the head of a fly, sees his wife screaming at him through
his hundreds of bug eyes. To achieve this effect, the company that made the Cinemascope
lenses for THE FLY
was none other than prescription eyewear maker Bausch and Lomb.
One of the taglines for this movie was
"The Monster Created by Atoms Gone Wild!"
When I read that I imagine atoms wearing wet T-Shirts with "'Ho" tattoos on their backsides.