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Kurt Neumann
David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Kathleen Freeman, Betty Lou Gerson, Charles Herbert
Writing Credits:
George Langelaan (story), James Clavell

This collection pays tribute the Fly in all the character's classic incarnations with 1958's The Fly, 1959's The Return Of The Fly, 1965's The Curse Of The Fly, as well as bonus material.

Box Office:
$700 thousand.
Domestic Gross
$3.000 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 4.0
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural

Runtime: 94 min.

Price: $39.98
Release Date: 9/11/2007

• Audio Commentary with Actor David “Al” Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle

Available Only as Part of “The Fly Collection”


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Fly: The Fly Collection (1958)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 10, 2007)

Although I dearly loved the 1986 remake of The Fly, it took years before I could bring myself to watch the 1958 original. What I knew of the film made it look impossibly cheesy, what with some dude running around wearing that silly fly-head, and that ridiculous, high-pitched "help me!"

DVDs get me to do strange things, however, which meant I would finally take a look at this movie. To my surprise, I actually found it to offer a pretty effective rendition of the tale. Granted, although the basic story to both the original and the remake are the same, the 1958 edition can't hold a candle to its more recent cousin. The Jeff Goldblum version is infinitely better-developed and more effective. Still, for a piece of alleged-schlock from the Fifties, that era's Fly works pretty well.

As with the remake, the story concerns a scientist who has invented a machine that can transmit matter from one place to another, just like the teleporter on Star Trek. They have it down pat by the 23rd century, however, while our protagonist, André (Al Hedison, later known as “David”), is still working the bugs out of the system - literally. (Ha! How's that for quality humor?)

When he thinks he has the machines working correctly, André impulsively hops in the gadget himself. Whoops - missed that fly that zipped in with you, dude! As a result, when both critters pop out of the device, some body parts have switched places; the little fly's buzzing around with a human head, and vice versa.

Most of the plot is told in flashback, as the movie starts with Andre's apparent murder. His wife Helene (Patricia Owens) seems to be the culprit, and she also appears to have gone off the deep end as she relates this information to police Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) and her brother-in-law Francois (Vincent Price). After avoiding it for a while, Helene offers all of the nasty details and we eventually discover Andre's ultimate fate.

As with the 1986 version, it ain't happy; both movies are essentially tragedies at their hearts, though the remake is much more powerful since the original puts too much of a “feel good” spin on the sad events. Nonetheless, it's a surprisingly somber piece for the era, and it rarely descends to the level of campiness I expected. As silly as it can be - mainly due to the weak effects - it still seems pretty creepy. I was even a bit spooked by those eerie cries of "help me!"

Actually, I don't know what I would think of this film were I not so well-acquainted with the remake. I feel as though I may have filled in some of the gaps. Perhaps the tragic aura wasn't really there but I interpreted it that way due to my familiarity with the 1986 movie. Frankly, it's hard to say, but I do know that I got a minor kick out of the original. I really expected it to be a chore to watch, but it moved along at a good pace and remained suspenseful even though I was well aware how things would end. The performers all add a level of gravity to the piece that it needs; if they don't take it seriously, we sure won't.

While the original never lets its character fall to the depths seen in the remake, we do see hints of the depravity to come. In the 1986 film, much is made over the vicious character our man-fly will become when the transformation is complete, and he has to fight off his more brutal instincts. Those points aren't emphasized to the same degree in the original, but they're there and it's clear they're a factor in the decisions that are made. Again, I never felt as involved in this one as I was in the remake, but the 1958 edition of The Fly still managed some effectively eerie material.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Fly appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No major issues materialized here, but the transfer never became particularly strong.

Sharpness displayed the most significant distractions. A mix of shots came across as a bit soft, especially in wider elements. Much of the movie showed fairly good definition, but too much of it tended to seem less than concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw some mild edge enhancement at times. Source flaws stayed modest. A few specks cropped up through the flick and that was it, as it usually looked clean.

Colors were also erratic but generally good. The movie didn’t boast a particularly dynamic palette, and it occasionally tended toward the slightly bland side of the street. However, the tones mustered nice reproduction most of the time, and the smattering of brighter hues looked nice. Black levels could come across as a little flat and murky, but for the most part they appeared deep and nicely dark, with solid tones that didn't look too heavy. Shadow detail was similarly fine, as the low-light situations displayed appropriate levels of nuance without excessive thickness. Ultimately, The Fly remained completely watchable, but the different concerns knocked it down to a “B-“.

As for the Dolby Surround 4.0 soundtrack, it provided a relatively active sonic environment. Lots of audio came from the side channels and the rears contributed some useful atmosphere at appropriate times. The mix worked well when we heard music or effects. These filled the space nicely with elements that created a nice sense of environment. However, dialogue lacked consistent localization. Most of the lines seemed accurately placed, but some of them blended with the wrong speakers, and this could become a minor distraction.

Audio quality was dated but decent. Speech tended to be slightly stiff. However, the lines seemed concise and lacked edginess or other problems. Music came across as a bit metallic as well, and range wasn’t great. Nonetheless, the score was acceptably bold for its age and seemed well-reproduced. Effects fell into the same realm, as they showed their age but remained clear and fairly accurate. For the most part, I liked this track. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely above average for a film from 1958.

How did the picture and sound of this 2007 release compare to those of the old 2000 release? Audio was pretty similar for both, but this DVD’s visuals offered substantial improvements. The 2000 DVD was extremely soft and suffered from exceedingly flat colors along with some source flaws. The new release had its problems, but it looked cleaner, sharper and brighter. There’s no contest; the 2007 Fly offered radical improvements in visual quality, as the 2000 image was a mess.

As far as extras go, this platter includes only one: an audio commentary from actor David “Al” Hedison and film historian David Del Valle. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. They chat about the original story on which the film is based, cast and crew, and general memories from the set.

This track starts out in a pretty lively manner as we learn some nice notes about the movie. We get nuggets about the director, other cast members, and elements of the shoot. However, the commentary slows down before too long and never really picks up steam again. The content becomes less than stellar, and more dead spots occur. These seem especially problematic because Hedison whistles loudly through his nose when he breathes, and that sound gets annoying quickly.

Del Valle’s presence creates a disappointment. I expect film historians to provide strong background information, but Del Valle mostly just seems like a gossip as he yaks about Vincent Price and others. He does help motivate remarks from Hedison, so at least he functions as a moderator. Overall, this track has enough to it to merit a listen, but don’t expect a lot of fascinating details.

While it doesn’t compare favorably with its 1986 remake, the original 1958 Fly has creepy charms of its own. Yeah, it becomes cheesy at times, but it provides a reasonably effective little horror tale. The DVD offers erratic but usually positive picture and audio along with a decent audio commentary. This is definitely the best version of The Fly you’ll find.

Note that this version of The Fly comes only as part of the four-disc “The Fly Collection”. That set also includes Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly, and a fourth disc with supplements. The “bonus” grade provided here only reflects the content of this particular platter; the review of the fourth disc will give an extras grade for the set as a whole.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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