The Fly, 1958. 6/10

This was a nice-looking production. All those late-’50s colors create a deceptively festive backdrop for this modern Frankenstein story. Also, advancements in technology show a more convincing mad-scientist laboratory than the more primitive apparatus available to the 30s and 40s movies of this genre.

The concept looks ahead to the ’60s. Not so much for the hybrid man/fly transformation, which was unintended, but the transportation of matter over distances–as worked out in the later Star Trek ‘beam-me-up’ device. The premise is interesting, but not much is done with it.

The lead-in to the fly mutation takes a long time. It’s good that we start near the end, with Andre’s (David Hedison’s) macabre death, with most of the story then unfolding as a flashback. We work our way back to the beginning, and beyond. The middle portion winds on and on; I don’t care much about the plate disappearing, then reappearing; I was hoping something more interesting would happen with the cat, but he literally just disappeared.

The long ending sequence really saves The Fly. It’s magnificently done, beginning with Francois’ (Vincent Price’s) failure to notice the mutant fly in the park–even though he hears it’s tiny voice pleading. Then, quickly, the apparently guilty Helene’s (Patricia Owen’s) arrest, and again to the park for the ‘fly’s’ haunting end. It’s so pitiful and tragic, as well as a great moment of horror.

As Francois realizes, there’s immediately another dilemma, as technically the police detective has killed Andre. Strangely, yet logically, Francois and the policeman manufacture an alibi that exonerates both himself and Helene. Nothing else would really be fair.

At that point there were no other decent alternatives. But that was only because of some inexplicable scenes and assumptions. Why does Andre, as the fly-headed mutant, give up on finding his opposite, the ‘white-headed’ fly? After all, the kid had caught it once; then it found its way back inside, and was almost caught there. Why wouldn’t it return again?

As long as there’s still a possibility that they can find and trap it, you’d think that they’d persist. Instead, Andre wrecks his device. That’s completely dumb; since, even if the other fly does drift back, he’s now doomed. I could see why he’d want to minimize the damage at that point, and let his wife to literally push the button on him.

But that brings up the well-noted issue that the gory deed apparently doesn’t leave any fly residue, which seems impossible. The ending is great, and The Fly is visually powerful, but it’s weakened by the plot’s logic issues. 6/10.

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