Thursday, January 12, 2017

No Soup For You, or Thoughts on Vincent Price in The Fly

The Fly (1958) is a stylish murder mystery with a sci-fi horror element told in flashback as a Montreal detective tries to determine why a nice 50’s housewife crushed her scientist husband’s head in an industrial press.  Regrettably, modern audiences suffer from knowing why she did it, this movie is part of our cultural landscape and even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve seen references to it in pop culture for the past 58 years.
The story is told in flashback like all proper film noir flicks, and the Hitchock-style direction and the flashback premise adds an inevitably, a tragic element; the story already happened and can't be changed.  The movie abounds with beautifully composed scenes, gorgeously saturated color and pitch-perfect examples of mid-century architecture, graphic design, interior designs and costumes.  I mean Vincent Price appears in his first scene in a literal smoking jacket.  As Francois, the brother of the fly/scientist, he’s playing the good guy for once but because of his later roles he’s not so believable.
Vincent Price as you know is remembered for darker roles and a classic villain, in addition to movies like The Last Manon Earth (1964) and his final film appearance, Edward Scissorhands (1990).  With Patricia Owens as Helene Delambre, that 50’s head-crushing housewife, and David Hedison as Andre, the scientist with the fly head, who went on to play Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die (1973).  Also watch out for Betty Lou Gerson as Nurse Andersone, who would go on to be the voice of Cruella DeVille in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961).

The matter disintegrator-integrator creates a life-sized human with a fly head, and a fly-sized fly with a human head that can also speak English.  There’s an absurd element in watching a guy in a fly mask and a lab coat, and a larger commentary on Cold War nuke fears and science running unchecked.  This theme was popular in the 50’s, most notable examples being The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and Attack of The 50-Foot Woman (1958), but behind those fears is also an optimism that anything was possible, and that hopeful brightness is an element that is sorely missing in contemporary science fiction.  

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).