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THE FLY - 4 Slimes
Copyright 1958 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 29 April 2001

The Characters:  

  • Andre - Scientific genius, he finds the idea of inventing something more interesting than the workings of a human body, even a female's body. Heck, even his wife's body. She crushes his head in a hydraulic press, but not for ignoring her. Oh no.
  • Helene - Neglected wife, this was a major problem before plastic and other synthetic materials became widespread.
  • François - Vincent Price! Andre's brother who hides a secret love for Helene. Things are looking up for him at the film's end.
  • Inspector Charas - A practical man serving on the city's police force. He believes in facts and throws large stones at things that frighten him.
  • Philippe - Son to Andre and Helene, wants to be just like father when he grows up. Except the "head squashed" part that is, becoming part fly might be an option.
  • Emma - Housekeeper, it is a wonder she continues working for these people.
  • Dandelo - Hey, has anybody seen the cat?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Inconceivable as it may seem, I am certain a few of you are honestly wondering what this movie is about. Of course you were probably raised by wolves in a remote section of China and perk up every time Gillian Anderson appears on "The X-Files" as well. I shall forge ahead with a normal plot accounting for a true classic, if only for your benefit.

The Delambres' life in Canada is nearly idyllic, full of wealth and meaningful relationships. This very fact is why a phonecall catches François off guard, the caller is none other than Helene and she confesses to killing Andre! Implausible, but hard to deny when your brother's body is found half squashed at the factory. Insanity is the first conclusion, since they got along so well and neither had a lover on the side (she also seems preoccupied with flies). One glaring fact seems to avoid attention: Andre would spend days on end inside the lab, even eating and sleeping there. Only a short walk up two or three flights of stairs was a warm bed and wife, what was he thinking? Hopefully he took some time to shower or bathe every other day.

François' hidden love for Helene is obvious and he absolutely agonizes over what may happen to her as a result of the murder. Very little grief for the loss of his brother, though; it is not surprising when Charas admits to suspecting Price's character at first. You had better have a very good reason to kill one of my family members (like they consumed infected meat pies and are insane with rabies) or I'll look into inserting something long and metallic into the corner of your eye. Granted, once tricked into revealing her story, it appears Helene had very good reasons for her actions.

Scientific discovery is tedious stuff, until someone with imagination writes a script about the endeavor, then it goes hell bent for Eureka! (It just doesn't seem the same without a capital E and an exclamation point.) Our dearly departed explorer was working on teleportation and the experiments were successful. Don't get me wrong; there were some problems. At first it only created mirror images of the transported item and later Andre accidentally loses the cat somewhere amongst the ether. I absolutely love the fragmented feline! Somehow, without tangible vocal cords, it utters a ghastly meowing that echoes through the laboratory. Explaining that to guests would have been tricky.

I've been thinking, suppose you had an apparatus capable of taking the human body apart at the atomic level, then sending those atoms across the room and reassembling them. Is it still the same person or would the soul fall shrieking from the body and generally make things unpleasant? Hey... ...there's an idea for a movie! Scientists invent a teleportation device and test subjects seem normal after going through at first, but in reality their souls have been replaced by something else; entities ancient and sinister, who have been waiting countless aeons.

Well, Cthulhu aside, it seems the invention does have some bugs. Andre takes a trip across the lab with no problems, but an encore performance proves disastrous. Wives can tell when something is wrong and she knows that something awful has happened. Clues include the scientist being unable to talk and covering his face with a black cloth, something must be up. We are kept in the dark for a while, but the truth always comes out. A fly was in the teleporter! Andre's head and one arm were switched with the insect's! Surprisingly, he still retains most of his human facilities at first, so I guess it didn't switch their brains entirely.

Finding one specific fly is a daunting task and Canada's abundance of the pests only aggravates the situation. Ever try hunting a fly inside your house? It sucks, it more than sucks when you are trying to do so in a large room with dark furniture. During this the transformed scientist is fighting against violent urges from his inner fly. I'm hoping there weren't any other, more disgusting, thoughts running through his hairy head. We certainly don't hear him request a "nice fresh plate of manure" for dinner. Want to know the ironic twist? Well, skip on down to the next paragraph, because I'm going to type it anyway. Philippe had caught the fly and his mother forced him to release it, right before finding out about the accident.

Time finally runs out and Helene is forced to help her beloved husband destroy himself before the fly gains total control. So ends a classic work of science fiction. The acting is excellent and the special effects convincing, but could they have saved Andre by catching the fly? Having watched the entire film and seeing normally rational people driven to the end of their wits, I do not think so. Passing the scrambled freaks through once more would have only caused more grief, with more body parts being traded between the two.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Women are incapable of learning how to operate heavy machinery.
  • Family heirlooms are not "Made in Japan," not even Japanese ones.
  • Cats should be heard and not seen.
  • Ballet programs make handy notepads.
  • Teleportation will not cause champagne to go flat.
  • Flies are not lactose intolerant, but they are alcohol dependent.
  • You should always keep windows in good repair, just in case your husband accidentally switches his head with that of a fly.
  • A fire axe doesn't solve your problems, but it sure relieves stress.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 13 mins - Come to think of it, I would be a little nervous about accepting coffee from some woman who squashed her husband's head in a hydraulic press.
  • 26 mins - That is such a lie Vincent.
  • 33 mins - Teleporting a human body across the room, replacing each atom where it was in the first place, is very different from a television signal. Unless people are 29.97 frames per second and interlaced...
  • 40 mins - Helene to Andre: "Hey, have you seen the cat?" Hehehehe!
  • 45 mins - I guess that's why they call them guinea pigs...
  • 73 mins - There are several hundred facets in the eye of a fly, which makes the idea of a two coyote morning even less appealing.
  • 80 mins - Ouch.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note thefly1.wav François: "Perhaps he committed suicide."
Charas: "If he did why did she say she killed him? And if it was suicide, why such a clumsy method and why involve your wife? And she was there!"
Green Music Note thefly2.wav Andre and Helene talking about the cat being lost during an experiment. "A stream of cat atoms."
Green Music Note thefly3.wav Helene: "I'll find that fly! It can't be far away, but you mustn't talk about destroying yourself! You mustn't!"
Green Music Note thefly4.wav The Fly (said to the spider): "Noooo! Pleeeease, help me! Pleeeease! Go away! Go away! No! No! No! Nooooo!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipthefly1.mpg - 3.1m
Andre decides to use the cat as his first live test subject. Unfortunately the kitty does not make it all the way across the room, but hangs around as a disembodied echo. Hehehehe!

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