The Fly (1958)

94 mins | Horror | July 1958

Director:

Kurt Neumann

Writer:

James Clavell

Producer:

Kurt Neumann

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Theobold Holsopple

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

According to Feb 1958 HR news items, the picture was originally to be produced by Robert Lippert for Regal Pictures. Twentieth Century-Fox replaced Lippert with Kurt Neumann because the studio feared that Lippert's conflict with the Screen Actors Guild over refusing to pay residuals to actors might hinder production. Modern sources suggest that after the success of Regal's She Devil and Kronos (see below), both produced and directed by Neumann and photographed by Karl Struss, Fox decided to produce a horror picture using the budget techniques employed by Regal. According to Twentieth Century-Fox publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, "Andre's" lab equipment consisted of army and air force surplus. Modern sources add that the effect of the fly was created by fitting a rubber sheath over Al [who later changed his name to David] Hedison's head. Once the sheath was in place, a mobile proboscis was attached to a wooden plug which Hedison held in his mouth and wriggled. The first fly eyes were beaded domes, but were later discarded in favor of irridescent domes.
       The film was critically well received, with the Var review commenting that "a strong factor of the picture is its unusual believability." The Fly helped establish Vincent Price's identification as a horror star. A Sep 1958 HR news item notes that writer Arch Oboler sued the studio, short story author George Langelaan and Playboy magazine on the grounds that the film was plagiarized from his short story "Across the Gaby," which was broadcast as a radio play in 1937. ... More Less

According to Feb 1958 HR news items, the picture was originally to be produced by Robert Lippert for Regal Pictures. Twentieth Century-Fox replaced Lippert with Kurt Neumann because the studio feared that Lippert's conflict with the Screen Actors Guild over refusing to pay residuals to actors might hinder production. Modern sources suggest that after the success of Regal's She Devil and Kronos (see below), both produced and directed by Neumann and photographed by Karl Struss, Fox decided to produce a horror picture using the budget techniques employed by Regal. According to Twentieth Century-Fox publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, "Andre's" lab equipment consisted of army and air force surplus. Modern sources add that the effect of the fly was created by fitting a rubber sheath over Al [who later changed his name to David] Hedison's head. Once the sheath was in place, a mobile proboscis was attached to a wooden plug which Hedison held in his mouth and wriggled. The first fly eyes were beaded domes, but were later discarded in favor of irridescent domes.
       The film was critically well received, with the Var review commenting that "a strong factor of the picture is its unusual believability." The Fly helped establish Vincent Price's identification as a horror star. A Sep 1958 HR news item notes that writer Arch Oboler sued the studio, short story author George Langelaan and Playboy magazine on the grounds that the film was plagiarized from his short story "Across the Gaby," which was broadcast as a radio play in 1937. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. Fox produced several sequels to The Fly . In 1959, the studio released Return of the Fly (See Entry), and in 1965, Curse of the Fly , starring Brian Donlevy and directed by Don Sharpe (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). In 1986, David Cronenberg directed a Fox remake of The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, and in 1989, the studio produced The Fly II , starring Eric Stoltz and directed by Chris Walas. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Jul 1958.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jul 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 Jul 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 58
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 58
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 58
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 58
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 58
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 58
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 58
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 58
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Jul 58
p. 921.
New York Times
30 Aug 58
p. 6.
Variety
16 Jul 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Exec ward des
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Fly" by George Langelaan in Playboy (Jun 1957).
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1958
Production Date:
mid March--mid April 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 July 1958
Copyright Number:
LP11392
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
94
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19036
SYNOPSIS

One late night at the DeLambre Frère Electronics Factory in Montreal, Gaston, the night watchman, hears strange noises emanating from the press room. After a bloodied woman runs from the press room and admits that she killed her husband Andre, one of the brothers who owns the factory, Gaston notifies François DeLambre of his brother's death. François then phones Inspector Charas, an old acquaintance, and asks him to go to the factory. When the jaws of the press are raised, they find Andre's body with its head and arm crushed, and François is baffled as to how Helene would know how to operate the complicated piece of machinery. After Dr. Ejoute, the family physician, declares that Helene is in a state of euphoric relief, Helene, calmly seated in her living room, admits that she killed her husband but refuses to explain why. As the inspector interrogates Helene, she is distracted by the buzzing of a fly. When the inspector asks to see Andre's laboratory, François is shocked that the equipment is a shambles. Believing that Helene may be insane, the doctor confines her to bed, and François assumes guardianship of her son Philippe. The inspector thinks that Helene is sane, however, and informs François that he intends to ask for an arrest warrant the following day. At dinner that night, Philippe mentions that his mother was desperately searching for a fly with a white head and strange leg. When François questions Helene about the fly, she, thinking that he possesses the insect, begs him for it. Instead he threatens to turn it over to the inspector unless she tells him the truth ... +


One late night at the DeLambre Frère Electronics Factory in Montreal, Gaston, the night watchman, hears strange noises emanating from the press room. After a bloodied woman runs from the press room and admits that she killed her husband Andre, one of the brothers who owns the factory, Gaston notifies François DeLambre of his brother's death. François then phones Inspector Charas, an old acquaintance, and asks him to go to the factory. When the jaws of the press are raised, they find Andre's body with its head and arm crushed, and François is baffled as to how Helene would know how to operate the complicated piece of machinery. After Dr. Ejoute, the family physician, declares that Helene is in a state of euphoric relief, Helene, calmly seated in her living room, admits that she killed her husband but refuses to explain why. As the inspector interrogates Helene, she is distracted by the buzzing of a fly. When the inspector asks to see Andre's laboratory, François is shocked that the equipment is a shambles. Believing that Helene may be insane, the doctor confines her to bed, and François assumes guardianship of her son Philippe. The inspector thinks that Helene is sane, however, and informs François that he intends to ask for an arrest warrant the following day. At dinner that night, Philippe mentions that his mother was desperately searching for a fly with a white head and strange leg. When François questions Helene about the fly, she, thinking that he possesses the insect, begs him for it. Instead he threatens to turn it over to the inspector unless she tells him the truth about his brother's death. After François promises Helene that he will kill the fly, she asks him to summon the inspector and then recalls a happier time, several months earlier when Andre excitedly showed her his new research project based on the disintegration and reintegration of atoms: After successfully transforming a plate, Andre decides to experiment on the family cat, but after being disintegrated in the chamber, the feline fails to reappear, and all that remains is a disembodied meow. Two weeks later, Andre reemerges from his lab, triumphant, and insists on transforming a guinea pig. After the guinea pig reappears, Helene makes Andre promise that he will not experiment on any more animals. One day soon after, Andre invites François to lunch to demonstrate his experiments, but when François and Helene approach the door to the laboratory, they find a note from Andre stating that he is unable to dine with them. Later, Philippe shows his mother a fly with a white head that he trapped, and she makes him release it. That night, Helene returns to the lab and Andre slips another note under the door, reporting that he has had a serious accident and is unable to speak, and asking her to bring him a bowl of milk laced with rum. Upon returning with the milk, Helene finds another note, instructing her to go into the other lab in search of a fly with a white head. He allows her into the room on the condition that she not look at him, and when she enters, she sees that he has draped a black cloth over his head. She then informs him that she made Philippe set the fly free, and when Andre reaches out in frustration, she sees a fly tentacle extending from his sleeve where his arm should be. Helene runs out of the room in horror, but promises to find the fly. The next morning, Andre hands Helene a note explaining that unknown to him, a fly entered the disintegration chamber with him and their atoms became entangled. If the fly cannot be found, Andre writes, he will be doomed to life as an insect and will kill himself. Helene immediately sends Philippe and her housekeeper Emma on a quest for the fly, but after they trap it in the living room, it slips through a crack in the window. When Andre learns this, he types Helene a note, insisting that all must be destroyed, including himself. Helene begs him to try the disintegration chamber one last time, and Andre humors her. After the process is completed, Helene pulls off the cloth and finds a giant fly's head staring at her. When she faints, Andre tenderly picks her up and caresses her face, but his claw begins to twitch uncontrollably. Sensing that his humanity will soon be overcome by the fly atoms, Andre smashes his equipment and then motions for Helene to follow him to the factory. There, he puts his head between the jaws of the press and gestures for her to close it, crushing his hideous head and claw. Helene completes her story, but the inspector, incredulous, refuses to believe her, and informs François that he intends to arrest her for murder. The next day, as François resignedly waits in the garden, a fly with a white head trapped in a spider's web squeaks "help me" at him, but he cannot hear the tiny voice. As the inspector and the attendants from the asylum arrive to take Helene away, Philippe tells François that he saw the fly in the garden. Running there, François and the inspector find Andre's head grafted to the body of the fly. The spider is about to devour the fly when the inspector crushes both insects with a rock. Now convinced of Helene's story, the inspector declares Andre's death a suicide. Some time later, François explains to Philippe that his father died in the search for truth. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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