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The Fly Blu Ray!
on 24 September 2013
"The Fly" still works quite well and has surprisingly high production values for a 1958 film of this genre even including a ballet sequence in it's attempt to evoke the cultural life of Paris: as the film - true to the short story on which it's based - takes place in France.
Strongly cast with David (Al) Hedison, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall and Vincent Price in the leads, and some well/known faces as support players ( the maid, the nightwatchman in the factory, even a member of the audience sharing the box at the opera) what could frankly have been a totally ludicrous story, comes across with some - if limited - conviction - although film historians tell us that Price and Marshall went into paroxysms of hysteria when filming the ending which required countless takes before the cast could control themselves!
For over 35 minutes of its short running time, the film seems very much a standard murder mystery which only gradually reveals the sic-fi/horror at its core. Marshall, as ever, gives a thoroughly convincing performance as the sceptical detective and Hedison who went on to star in the series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" gives a committed and naturalistic portrayal of the scientist victim, insisting that he wore the fly mask throughout all sequences when his character was on screen - even when covered with a black head cloth! Price and Owens however are never totally convincing as his brother and wife and Price's campness and Owens melodramatics will be definitely a plus or minus quality depending on the tastes of viewers.
The new Blu-ray comes in a solid transfer on this 50GB disc. The original elegant CinemaScope 2.35:1 ratio is thankfully
retained and there is little evidence of DNR or "sharpening". Yes the grain is rather pronounced, you have the occasional white speckles and scratch too, and there is an inherent "softness" to the image (probably in the original source material) but all in all the look of the film is very good.
The 4.0 DTS-HD MA mix is very satisfactory too and the sound of the fly buzzing across the sound-field during the opening titles of the film promises good things to come - and true enough they do. Sawtell's music score pounds out from all the speakers but never overwhelms the dialogue in the way we hear with the recent Universal release of "Earthquake" - although even here the speech is a little low for optimum comfort.
The extras are mostly the same as on the DVD release and include a fascinating documentary about Price.
Definitely a recommended purchase for fans and a cautious one for younger people wanting a full-blooded 21Century horror fix. "The Fly" is a restrained and rather dated "Hollywood" movie from a more gentle age whose horrors are limited and whose slow narrative, self-conscious acting style and traditional filmmaking technique may not appeal to everyone today.