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The Fly, October 31

Genetic Screenings

Friday, October 31, 2003
7:30 a.m. THE FLY
Kurt Neumann (U.S., 1958)

"Help me! Help meeee!"

This unsettling howler from 1958 features one of the first transgenic monstrosities, the man-fly gone awry. A cautionary tale of scientific hubris, Kurt Neumann's widescreen wonder has electronics whiz Andre Delambre (Al Hedison) building a gizmo that disintegrates matter and reassembles it in a phone booth down the hall, atom by atom. To counter his wife's qualms about his teleportation toy, Andre declares, "God gives us intelligence to uncover the wonders of nature!" What Andre overlooks is that nature is buzzing around his head at that very moment. When he next tries out his matter mover, Andre transmits not only himself but an unsuspecting bluebottle, and the two genomes join. With great insectoid prosthetics, fly's-eye optical effects, and Vincent Price at high pitch, The Fly created a buzz that lasted through several sequels: Return of and Curse of, and, years later, David Cronenberg's gruesome but genetically more genuine version. The original Andre Delambre was no Atom Ant, but he was pretty fly for a white guy.

—Steve Seid

• Written by James Clavell, from a story by George Langelaan. Photographed by Karl Struss. With Vincent Price, Al Hedison, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall. (94 mins, Color, 'Scope, 35mm, From Criterion Pictures)