The Fly  – Blu-ray Review
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Film Title: The Fly (1958)
Release Date: 1958
Rating: NOT RATED
Runtime: 94 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Formats: DTS- HD MA 4.0
Aspect Ratio(s): 2.35:1
Version Reviewed: 2019 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 12/10/19
Director: Kurt Neumann
Cast: David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Charles Herbert
Jump to Sections: Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“The Fly” was a 1958 science fiction (Sci-Fi) film directed by Kurt Neumann. Neumann was best known for directing other films like Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), Tarzan and the Huntress (1947), Rocketship X-M (1950), The Kid from Texas (1950), Cattle Drive (1951), Son of Ali Baba (1952), Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953), and Kronos (1957).
The Fly was based on a short story written by George Langelaan that was then adapted to a screenplay by James Clavell. Clavell is best known for also writing (or co-writing) the screenplays to films like The Great Escape (1963), To Sir, with Love (1967), and The Last Valley (1977) – the latter of which he also directed. James Clavell also wrote the 1975 novel Shōgun that was adapted into a 1980 TV series.
The story to The Fly is told with a somewhat non-linear form because it first shows us a scene from the end of the film and as things progress we are shown how things got to be as how they were/are and will be in the end. You have the story being primarily told at first from the perspective of the brother to a doctor who has died, and his wife is left to try to explain things. The doctor was found crushed in a press and his wife was spotted nearby, as we see in the opening of the film. The brother “Francois Delambre” (Vincent Price) at first receives a frantic phone call from the wife [now widow] “Helene Delambre” (Patricia Owens) informing him of the death of his brother.
Francois is quick to come to the side of Helene and try to make some sense of what happened to his late brother that left him dead in a press. Helene doesn’t want to really be too talkative about what happened to her late husband, a well-known scientist. We start to eventually see what did play out over the course of time with the husband “Andre Delambre” (David Hedison).
It turns out that the scientist was working on a way to teleport objects from one chamber to another. He decides to eventually, as he’s perfecting his machine, to experiment with using a live test subject for teleportation in the form of a small animal. Let’s just say he eventually gets the dumb idea to use himself as a human test subject and he managed to be joined in his teleportation voyage by a pesky insect – hence the film’s title is The Fly. This is a very unique science fiction film for its time and leaves you a tad bit skeptic by the whole idea, but then again it is somewhat plausible from a scientific perspective.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“The Fly” is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, just as how it was originally shown during its 1958 theatrical run. This film was shot on 35mm film using the CinemaScope cinematographic process with anamorphic Bausch & Lomb lenses, according to the credits and IMDb‘s technical specifications page. Unlike its sequel (released a year later), this was shot in color and because of that, we get some nice representation of colors in the later early days of it being common for a feature film.
2013 vs. 2019 Blu-ray Screenshot Comparisons:
SOURCES: 2013 Blu-ray (left), 2019 Blu-ray (right)
So, as you can tell from the screenshot comparisons (above) this is an identical transfer to what was found on the original 2013 Blu-ray. Don’t expect any visual differences between this  version and that other Blu-ray, if you owned it (like myself). That being said, this still delivers a nice CinemaScope color presentation in high definition that has some true vibrancy to it at times, with some accurate flesh tones. The black level here is solid for the most part and there’s a decent amount of film grain left intact visually, that thankfully does not get turned into block noise from compression.
The amount of detail here found in some close-up shots can prove to be pretty impressive at times and it looks rather good to be a 1958 film. The presentation here visually [still] is enough to do this little science fiction classic justice in terms of video quality. It would be nice to someday see it get a restoration but for now, this looks fine and will for sure leave fans pleased with it in high definition. The Fly [from 1958] gets a nice 4.25 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Audio here, on this new 2019 Blu-ray (part of “The Fly Collection” set), of The Fly (1958) is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 surround – the exact same as found on the previous 2013 Fox Blu-ray release. The problem with the 4.0 configuration sometimes these days, I’ve found, is that the modern AVR (audio video receiver) will actually decode and then upconvert it to a 5.1 surround mix instead of preserving the 4 channel surround experience. That experience is supposed to include two front channels and two rear channels, without a subwoofer or a center channel.
In 5.1 (incorrectly) and not in 4.0 is sadly how I, and I’m sure others, are experiencing this surround mix. Still, you have to give it to them [Fox, originally and Shout! Factory here] for trying to preserve the original 4.0 configuration. I’ll just end this opening bit by saying that perhaps a full 5.1 mix should have just been made to be an option for us to get it properly mixed into that [5.1] configuration that a lot of us are ending up hearing it in. That’s just a thought and I felt like putting it out there. Alright, with that out of the way let’s move onto actually discussing the quality of this sound mix. First off, this gets a mix like this because it originally had a 3 channel Stereo mix during its theatrical release – according to IMDb.
The audio mix comes with dialogue being delivered distinctly primarily from the two front channels (or the center channel, if your receiver converted it to 5.1). The music, very vital to the film, is delivered pretty evenly across all four channels in this mix. The sound effects, also very vital to the film, are also delivered evenly at times across the four channels (rears especially) during some more intense scenes. However, for the most part this will use the front channels for the action of the sound effects unless there’s a reason to want it to come from the rear channel (behind the listener). This mix is pretty neat for something that spawned from a 3 channel stereo mix from back in 1958 but it still feels like it could have benefitted from both a 5.1 and 2.0 (or perhaps 3.0) stereo mixes.
That all being said about the mix, this still works and has its impressive moments at times. It also does make good use of the original music and the sound effects for a film from this time period – in terms of its actual original sound design which is somewhat represented here. It’s nice to see this film get a sound mix that does the sci-fi classic the justice it deserves in terms of audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, are presented in both SD (standard definition) and HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo – unless otherwise noted below. These include the following:
- “Biography: Vincent Price” (1997) (44:03 – SD) is a must-see for any fan of the late actor and is partially a biography (as the title suggests), narrated with lots of photos along with many clips from his numerous roles in films. This also features interviews with the following people: Lucy Chase Williams (biographer), Victoria Price (daughter), Norman Lloyd (actor), Hazel Court (actress), Dennis Hopper (actor), Jane Russell (actress), Roger Corman (director), and Roddy McDowall (actor).
- “Fly Trap: Catching A Classic” (11:30 – HD) includes interviews with the following: Steve Haberman (screenwriter/film historian), Donald F. Glut (director/writer), David Hedison (The Fly, Andre Delambre), Tony Timpone (editor, Fangoria Magazine), David Del Valle (film historian), and Brett Halsey (Return of The Fly, Philippe Delambre). This featurette covers both of the film’s sequels here in the discussion. It was originally released on the 2013 Blu-ray from Fox.
- Fox Movietone News (0:54 – HD) features old footage from the premiere of the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:59 – HD)
Overall the bonus materials here are not that bad but they are actually lacking an audio commentary that was found on the original 2013 Blu-ray release from Fox. In fact, there are no new bonus materials here at all in comparison to the original 2013 Blu-ray that Fox released. That has been long since OOP (out of print), so people will be happy to be able to get their hands on this again regardless of the extras.
It is a shame they didn’t add and new content. The featurette here regarding the film proves to be worthwhile. It is a pretty decent set of extras, even if it is older material. The 1997 biography on Vincent Price proves to be a must-see for any fan of the late actor. It lacks one thing from the 2013 Blu-ray and that was an audio commentary track. That audio commentary isn’t ported over here, yet everything else is. In fact, this has the exact same menu and all just it lacks that first extra (audio commentary) on this new Blu-ray.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
“The Fly”, in its original 1958 form, was a science fiction film that used its small share of practical special effects. The acting here from the cast members like Vincent Price, Patricia Owens, and David Hedison (in the leading role) was impressive and it really helped to make the film as believable as possible. The film still holds up as a “cult classic” as well as a science fiction classic.
Here on the new 2019 Blu-ray, included in “The Fly Collection” set from Scream Factory, you’ll get the very same video transfer and audio mix that was found on the original 2013 Fox Blu-ray. That’s not at all a bad thing here in terms of the film’s presentation with its video and audio quality – as that release was pretty impressive for its time.
The real only two downsides here in regards to the extras you get for The Fly, the first film in this franchise, is that you don’t get an audio commentary previously found on the 2013 Blu-ray. The second downside here is that you don’t get any new bonus materials here for this film, so very important to the franchise that this box set (“collection”) is based on. On the brighter side of that, these are good extras and they almost total up to an hour in runtime. They just feel a bit lacking for the reasons I’ve discussed above. All and all, this is truly A Sci-Fi Classic Done Justice here for the first film (The Fly, 1958).
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.25 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
A Sci-Fi Classic Done Justice
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2019 Blu-ray Disc Screenshots:
2013 Blu-ray Screenshots: