The 1950’s was NOT a kind era to women in horror! Most of the time their job was to scream hysterically, faint and wait to be rescued by a man! The Fly may be one of the exceptions to this rule. And while Patricia Owens’ character Helene does faint once, she is smart, brave, and a take charge kind of woman.
The story begins with the murder of her scientist husband Andre who is crushed beyond recognition. Helene becomes the prime suspect in his murder and much of the rest of the film goes back in time to see how the two of them arrived at this point in their relationship. Both David Hedison [Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea] and Patricia Owens are fantastic as the married couple. They manage to pull off many scenes where Hedison’s upper body is completely hidden from view, covered by a cloth. They make it work where other actors could have failed.
The Fly also benefits from a strong performance by horror legend Vincent Price who appears in all the scenes after Andre’s death. It doesn’t matter what kind of dialogue they give Price to utter. He always makes it sound important and convincing. I’m a huge fan of his and love pretty much every film he did!
As far as the technical aspects go, it’s a brilliant move to keep much of Andre hidden until the “big reveal.” Like much of Hitchcock’s work, director Kurt Neumann [Secret of the Blue Room] knows that what we don’t see can be much more frightening than what we do see. He uses this philosophy to great effect in The Fly.
My absolute favorite scene is toward the end of the film when Price finds something caught in a spider’s web. I don’t spoil the fun but it’s by far the creepiest scene in the movie.
The Fly spawned a sequel starring Vincent Price [Return of the Fly] which doesn’t quite live up to the original. Then in 1986, director David Cronenberg gave us a very dark and sinister version of the movie [The Fly] that is even better than the original. This was followed by Fly II which was the weakest of al the films. Let’s face it, there’s only so much one can milk out of this story! The cash cow simply ran dry.
If you’ve never seen The Fly, I consider it a must-see of 1950’s horror. Don’t miss it!
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.