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The Fly [Blu-ray]
(Kurt Neumann, 1958)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Video: Twentieth Century Fox
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 37,071,994,964 bytes
Feature Size: 31,562,999,808 bytes
Video Bitrate: 38.01 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 17th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2944 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 2944 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 4.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS Audio German 768 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
English (SDH), German, Spanish, German (for commentary), none
• Commentary with actor David Hedsion and Historian David Del Valle
• Biography: Vincent Price(44:03)
• Fly Trap - Catching a Classic (11:30)
• Fox Movietone News (:54)
•Theatrical trailer (1:59)
Description: Differing greatly from David Cronenberg's very loose remake, this sci-fi classic is equally entertaining in its love of the grotesque. When scientist Hedison's matter-transference experiment goes wrong, he ends up with a fly's head and wing, while the insect in question is lumbered with his head and arm. His attempts to reverse the process inevitably fail, and he gradually goes insane, leading to a pleasingly bleak finale in which his wife crushes his head in a steam press and the fly gets trapped in a spider's web. Ludicrous stuff, of course, but Price lends his own inimitable and delightful brand of bravura to the role of Hedison's concerned brother, while James (Shogun) Clavell's script successfully treads a fine line between black comedy and po-faced seriousness.
Wealthy Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) is discovered late at night in the factory owned by her husband Andre (David Hedison). Helene stands beside a huge metal press, which has crushed the head and arm of her husband. Held for murder, the near-catatonic Helene refuses to tell anyone--not even Andre's brother Francois (Vincent Price)--why she did it. Francois cannot help but notice that Helene reacts in mortal terror when a tiny flies zips through the room. Nor can he disregard the statement made by Helene's son Philippe (Charles Herbert) that the fly has a curious white head and leg. When Francois pretends that he's captured the fly, Helene relaxes enough to tell her story. It seems that Andre, a scientist, had been working on a matter transmitter, which he claimed could disintegrate matter, then reintegrate it elsewhere. After a few experiments, Andre tried the transmitter himself. Just as he stepped into the disintegration chamber, a fly also flew into the chamber. We aren't immediately shown the results of this, save for the fact that Andre afterward insists upon keeping his head and arm covered. Alone with her husband, Helene abruptly removes the covering, revealing that Andre now bears the head of a fly! His atoms have become mixed up with the fly, and now he is unable to reverse the procedure. Deciding that his transmitter will be a bogy rather than a blessing to mankind, Andre smashes the apparatus and burns his notes. He then instructs Helene, via body language, to crush his fly-like head and arm in the press. Neither Francois nor inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) believe the story...until, while staring intently at a spider's web in the garden, they see a tiny entrapped fly with Andre's head and arm, tinnily screaming "Help me! Help me!" as the slavering spider approaches (If you're wondering why Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall do not look one another in the eye during this scene, it is because they couldn't deliver their dialogue without dissolving into laughter). Infinitely subtler than the admittedly excellent 1986 remake, the 1958 The Fly is one of the definitive big-budget horror films of its decade. Best bit: the prismatic "fly's eye view" of the screaming Patricia Owens. The Fly was adapted from George Langelaan's short story by James (Shogun) Clavell.Excerpt from TCM located HERE
Most of it takes place in and around the sunniest of homes, that of a
highly likable young Montreal scientist, Mr. Hedison, his wife, Miss
Owens, and their youngsters, Charles Herbert. One of the most appealing
things about the picture is the pretty pleasantry and chilling contrast
of the everyday setting, nicely framed in color and Cinema-Scope. Most
appealing of all, however, is the compassion blended in with the
suspense when something terrible happens in Mr. Hedison's basement
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The original The Fly arrives on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox. The first notable attribute of the image are the bright colors. They show a richness that was not visible in the SD versions - notably reds and blues/greens of the cathode rays in the laboratory. Daylight scenes are more impressive but nothing is overly dark. Grain provides a nice texture to the visuals and contrast seems adept. This Blu-ray is dual-layered with a high bitrate. This is a film that was never crisp, pristine or glossy and it looks like the 1080P captures the essence of the cinema image extremely well. It is clean and the 2.35:1 CinemaScope is frequently impressive. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt much more could be done. This Blu-ray gives a solid presentation of a memorable film experience.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master at 2944 kbps in 4.0 channel replicating the 4-Track Stereo Westrex Recording System in its original theatrical presentation. It sounds pretty good with some intensity in the Patricia Owens' (as Helene Delambre) piercing screams and the, unfortunate, wailing of the fly/human creature in the end. The score was composed by the incredibly prolific Paul Sawtell - who covered Westerns to Noir to Irwin Allen adventures in his career. There is a nice edginess to the audio - exhibiting some subtleties and aggressive depth. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The supplements duplicate the ones in The Fly Collection (minus the 'Return' and 'Curse of' sequel features) from 2007 (reviewed HERE) with the commentary with actor David Hedsion and historian David Del Valle, 45-minute Biography episode on Vincent Price and the the 12-minute featurette Fly Trap - Catching a Classic. They include a minute-long Fox Movietone News on the hoopla of the Premiere and a theatrical trailer.
September 5th, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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