View Full Version : The Fly (1957)

04-27-2003, 08:54 PM
Well, I just got through a double bill of The Fly and Return of the Fly (1957/58). This is out as a “Double Feature” from Fox, with one film on one side of the disc, and the second film on the other. Extras are trailers only.

It’s not that I think Cronenberg did a bad job with his remake of The Fly, I think the newer version has a good mix of old and new. However, the original film just has it all for me. It has a different tone, without all the bombastic elements. The original Fly had Vincent Price as the star (although he is not the Fly itself). The remake had Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum just happens to annoy me no end, which does not help.

Original Fly: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305951446/qid=1051466863/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-8188662-0614324?v=glance&s=dvd

Cronenberg Fly: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305951454/qid=1051466863/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/104-8188662-0614324?v=glance&s=dvd

Anyway, for the purposes of this post, I am concerned with the original films.

The Fly is actually a subtle film, with a sinister, rather sick element to it. A man, transformed into part fly, struggles with his humanity, struggles with his affliction as his brain becomes more insect like. It tells the tragic story of his wife, who must crush her husbands head in a vice to save him – and her subsequent arrest for murder. The son, running in the yard looking for the “white-headed fly” without knowing what it is, but doomed to return in the sequel to tread the same tragic footsteps. It is a film working on several levels.

Unlike Cronenbergs effort, in this film you only get one glimpse of the fly proper, and that is near the end of the film. For the rest, recognizing his ailment will offend others, he wears a hood over his head. This lends a mystery to the film and creates tension. You really don’t know what has happened to the lead character, you only know it is something horrible, something frightening. They keep this horror until the very end, until the tension of not knowing is unbearable.

This changes the entire mood of the film when compared to Cronenberg. Instead of being a dramatic transformation with the central character running all over the place to fantastic explosions, jumping through plate glass windows and mauling men, we have a character trapped in the partial body of a fly. We get to experience his struggle, to see him interact with his wife (who continues to feed him) and explore how he gradually loses his will to live. Along with this we have the search for the fly with the human head - which itself becomes a separate thread in the film, and provides the dramatic conclusion.

Vincent Price brings a lot to his role (as he did all his roles) and the subtleties of 50’s cinema go a long way toward compensating for the poorer special effects. I would say this version of the Fly is far more human - and is all the more horrifying for that.

Interesting to note, this film was made in color.

Unlike the “Return of the Fly”, which is in glorious black and white. In this film only Price returns. This is a film about the son of the original scientist, hell bent on continuing in his father’s footsteps. He takes a partner (who turns out to be both a killer and a spy) to help him, and then recreates the lab for his experiments.

What we have here then is espionage, sabotage that once again transforms the scientist into part man and part fly. Changed, he then takes revenge on those that have wronged him, before concluding with smiles all around. No hiding the Fly here though, once transformed, he is in full view (with poorer SFX, some might say to the detriment of the film).

I had heard negative things about the sequel, and for sure, the cheese factor is higher. Along with the Fly we have “Gerbil Man” which is good for whooping laughs, and the shots of our half man half Fly running through the forest (this time the Fly has a huge head) really are quite humorous. However, I went along with this and found the whole thing really entertaining – this IS 50’s cinema, after all. Further, the happy ending in this one felt like a true conclusion of the Fly story, where the whole thing had gone full circle – control of the process had taken place. Having said that, it did feel rather convenient and contrived. But, this is the ending that was anticipated and planned in the first film, so while somewhat whimsical, it has its own logic.

Yeah, the effects let the sequel down a bit, but as the story goes, I found it very satisfying. As a complete serial (two films) then both films feed upon the other very nicely – one without the other simply does not tell the whole story. It was just great to find someone trying the experiments again, failing, but then succeeding where the father failed.

Then we get to the transfers, which are just superb. Both widescreen, both leaving nothing wanting. No extras really, but even on Amazon (not the cheapest) this DVD (both films) goes for around $13. There simply is no way to get better value than that.

The Fly belongs in your classics collection – and there is unlikely to be a better release anytime soon. Overshadowing the remakes, imho, this is the Fly presented in the best way possible – subtlety in the first, espionage and conclusion in the second. The story of a family hell bent on pushing science forward. You just gotta have it.

04-28-2003, 12:43 AM
I agree on a lot of things you said about the movie, The original Fly is a good movie and still entertaining. I do like Cronenberg's remake better but it can't replace the original because there are lot of greats things about it that the remake doesn't have. Excellent review!

hell ya!
04-28-2003, 02:17 AM
Great review, I just watched the Fly last night and Return today(first time for each) and i loved them both. Return isn't as great as the orginal but it is still alot of fun. I really found the ending to the orginal kinda creepy. I got my copy for about $13 CND and i couldn't be happier, both have great picture quality and both movies are sure to bring enjoyment for me in their next viewings.:banana:


Lone Wolf
05-06-2003, 05:34 AM
Good review Dwatts, I just ordered this.

Daniel B
05-26-2003, 03:49 AM
I guess I prefer the original than the sequel. Or better, I just don't see much relation between them, even so Cronenberg made a very good movie.