Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Fly (1958)

Poster for The Fly (1958)The Fly (1958) by #KurtNeumann
#DavidHedison #PatriciaOwens #VincentPrice

When a scientist tests his matter transporter on himself, things go horribly wrong.

“Once it was human… even as you and I!”

“If she looked upon the horror her husband had become… she would scream for the rest of her life!”

#Horror #SciFi

I did not see The Fly (1958) when I was a kid. It was not featured on Not Quite Classic Theatre (at least not to my knowledge). I do remember seeing pictures from it in magazines and books. And I also remember it being aired on TV one night… a night that I could not watch it. I’m not sure where I was, or what I was doing, but I was not at home. Later, when I got back, my dad told me that he and my brother had watched it (which was a bit unusual, as my dad was not in the habit of watching horror films). They both loved it, of course, and told me that I had really missed out. They also told me quite a few details about the story – perhaps even some spoilers, years before anyone had ever used the word spoliers. It sounded great, and I couldn’t believe that my dad and my brother has seen it and I hadn’t. I was angry and bitter and jealous – and there was no way for me to see the film retroactively, as VCRs were still a ways off. When you missed a TV broadcast in those days, you really missed it.

As the years went by, I remembered my dad’s description of The Fly (1958) quite vividly, and even though I still hadn’t see it, I kind of felt like I had. I’m pretty sure I saw David Cronenberg’s brilliant remake, The Fly (1986), first. But even as I watched it, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to my memories of certain images and moments from the original; moments which were as real to me as if I had actually watched the 1958 movie. 

When I finally saw The Fly (1958) for the first time, I was shocked to discover that one of my life-long assumptions – nay, firm beliefs – about the movie was proven absolutely false. And that was this: that Vincent Price played the titular character; the scientist who inadvertently turns himself into a monster. He does not!

Why did I think he did? Well, I knew Vincent Price from many other horror films, like House of Wax (1953) – which may have been the first movie I ever saw him in (on TV, of course). And Vincent Price certainly played the “monster” in that film; the guy who is transformed into a monster, if you will. It just made sense to me that he would play that role in The Fly (1958). I knew that he was in the movie, and I just assumed that he would be that guy.

So, when my dad and my brother told me about the movie, I was picturing Vincent Price doing the things that in reality (or at least the reality of the The Fly (1958)) David Hedison was doing. David Hedison plays Andre Delambre, and Patricia Owens plays his wife, Helene. Vincent Price plays François Delambre, Andre’s brother. 

The power of the human mind is limitless. For years, it gave me vivid flashbacks to made up scenes that were so real to me, that even to this day I find it hard to believe that they don’t exist. Watching The Fly (1958) for the first time in several years, I was actually surprised all over again that Vincent Price wasn’t playing Andre Delambre. This is a false memory that really sticks. Perhaps by writing about it here, in this blog, I will finally restore the actors to their proper roles in my future memories of the movie. 

If not, it’s no big deal. The fake scenes in my memory were good, so I always enjoyed replaying them in my mind. So who cares if they don’t really exist outside of my mind? It raises the question, how often do we remember scenes, or moments, in movies, or in real life, that didn’t actually happen? I’m almost afraid to find out the answer (if that were even possible). But why am I talking about this?

The Fly (1958) is, in some ways, an actual classic. It was very popular, and spawned two sequels and a remake (which also spawned a sequel). I agonized about whether or not to include it in my exploration of the annals of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I decided that I could, because it has so much in common with the movies that I first fell in love with while watching Not Quite Classic Theatre so many years ago. It’s a monster movie. It’a a giant bug movie. It’s about a man transforming into a monster. And it came out in 1958 – which seems to be one of the biggest (and best) years for #NotQuiteClassicCinema. And let’s face it, I’m sure that the serious critics and the members of the Academy (who hand out awards) would not have considered The Fly (1958) to be worthy of their consideration in the same way as, say, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), or The Three Faces of Eve (1957) had been. 

So, I will call The Fly (1958) a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic.

Unlike many of its peers, The Fly (1958) was in colour – not black and white. This is particularly notable, because many people remember it being in black and white, and have a hard time believing it was in colour. This seems oddly related to my own false memories of the movie, and I guess serves as more proof of the power of the human mind. 

Another interesting, if somewhat sad fact, The Fly (1958) was the biggest box office hit of director Kurt Neumann’s career. Unfortunately, he never knew it because he died one week before the film was released to the general public.

I’ll say it again, The Fly (1958) is a #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic. It should be seen by all fans of monster movies, giant bug movies, people transforming into monster movies – basically everyone. Do yourself a favour and check it out on your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

One thought on “Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Fly (1958)

  1. Pingback: Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Return of the Fly (1958) | 100% Certified Angus Kohm

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