Thursday, December 30, 2021

THE FLY: The 1958, 1959,1965 Original Trilogy of Science Fiction/Horror

This is a look at the DELAMBRE FAMILY, and it starts with a murder mystery asking the question, why a loving wife and mother would one day murder her adoring husband? 

The answer to that question is found in:

Our tale of love and science gone mad begins with the June 1957 issue of "Playboy Magazine".

Within its pages of half-naked women was a short story by the French British writer George Langelaan entitled "The Fly". 

It was about "Andre Delambre's" murder and an investigation by his brother "Francois Delambre" as to why his loving wife, "Helene" would commit the murder. She gives "Francois" a handwritten manuscript to read and within its pages is the motive for the murder. Afterward, "Francois" advises his sister-in-law to find a white-headed fly.

The short story would appear a second time in the 1958 collection, "SF The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy", published by Dell Books.

THE FLY released on July 16, 1958

Above the Mexican poster for the Spanish dubbed version of 1958's "The Fly", with a misspelling of one of the actor's names.

The motion picture was directed by Kurt Neumann. As far as horror and science fiction film making went there wasn't a better choice by "20th Century Fox" for this low-budgeted feature, the estimated cost was between $325,000 and $495,000 dollars to make. The initial first year's box office receipts would be a surprising 3 million dollars in just the domestic box office alone.

Neuman's screenplay writing included 1936's "Dracula's Daughter", 1943's "Return of the Vampire" and 1950's "Rocketship X-M", which he also directed. His other directing assignments prior to this picture included, 1933's "Secret of the Blue Room", starring Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, and Paul Lukas, 1957's "She-Devil" starring Mari Blanchard, Jack Kelly, and Albert Dekker, and 1957's"KRONOS", starring Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, and John Emery.

The screenplay was by Australian author James Clavell, his major novels are, the 1962 World War 2 German prison camp, "King Rat", the trilogy, 1966's "Tai-Pan", 1975's "Shogan" and 1981's "Noble House", all best sellers and all turned into either successful motion pictures or mini-television-series.


Clavel's other motion picture work included co-writing the screenplays for 1963's "The Great Escape", 1964's "633 Squadron" and 1965's "The Satan Bug". In 1967, James Clavel wrote the screenplay and directed Sidney Poitier's "From Sir with Love".

The Main Cast:

Albert David Hedison, Jr. was billed as Al Hedison but starting with producer Irwin Allen's 1960's version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World", he became David Hedison, and portrayed "Andre Delambre". It is his name that is misspelled as "Hal Hedison" on the above Mexican poster. Al Hedison had just been seen in the classic WW2 submarine thriller, 1957's "The Enemy Below", starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens.

Patricia Owens portrayed "Helene Delambre". Owens had just co-starred with Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark in the 1958 western, "The Law and Jake Wade" and would follow this picture co-starring with Audie Murphy and Eddie Albert in 1958's "The Gun Runners", based upon Ernest Hemmingway's "To Have and Have Not". My article on the different film versions including the Bogart and Bacall film, "Ernest Hemingway's 'To Have and Have Not' on the Motion Picture Screen and Radio", may be read at:

Vincent Price portrayed "Francois Delambre". Price had just been seen in a May 1958 episode of the television anthology series "Matinee Theatre", entitled "Angel Street" and would follow this feature with a December 1958 episode of Richard Boone's "Have Gun Will Travel", entitled "The Moore's Revenge" with Price as an actor portraying William Shakespeare's "Othello".

Herbert Marshall portrayed the added character of "Inspector Charas". British actor Marshall appeared in many different genres of motion pictures over his career. They included co-starring with Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant in 1932's "Blonde Venus", co-starring in the Maureen O'Hara and Adolphe Menjou 1940 "A Bill of Divorcement", Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 "Foreign Correspondent" co-starring with Joel McCrea and Larine Day, the 1941 "The Little Foxes", co-starring with Bette Davis, and an appearance in part of the popular "Andy Hardy" series starring Mickey Rooney, 1944's "Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble".  

For science fiction fans was Marshall appearing in the second and third entries to Ivan Tor's "Office of Scientific Investigation" trilogy, 1954's "Riders to the Stars" and the same years "GOG". My article, "Ivan Tors, 'Office of Scientific Investigation" Trilogy". can be read at:

Above, Herbert Marshall and Vincent Price.

Charles Herbert portrayed the added character of "Phillipe Delambre". Child actor Herbert was appearing on different television shows at the time. He would be in the 1958 science fiction "The Colossus of New York", and star in producer William Castle's 1960, original "13 Ghosts", but the young actor's real life wasn't what most of his fans imagined. My article about Herbert and another young actor, Richard Eyer entitled, "Richard Eyer and Charles Herbert: Youthful Actors" can be found at:

The James Clavel Screenplay:

In Monreal, Quebec, Canada, scientist and business partner of his brother "Francois", "Andre Delambre" is found dead with his head and one arm crushed by a hydraulic press beyond recognition. 

"Francois Delambre" is called and comes to the plant "Delambre Frere".

"Francois" meets "Inspector Charas" and the two view "Andre's" body.

"Francois" and police "Inspector Charas" go to the "Delembre Estate" and question "Andre's" wife "Helene" about his death which she has confessed too without revealing any motive. "Helene" has also become obsessed with the buzzing sounds of flies and tries to see them up close. Always looking for one with a white head!

"Dr. Ejoute", played by Eugene Borden, is called in and arranges to have "Nurse Anderson", played by Betty Lou Gerson, stay with "Mrs. Delambre" in both her medical capacity and for "Inspector Charas" to keep "Helene Delambre" from leaving the house alone.


"Francois" now trays a ploy on his sister-in-law claiming he has captured a white-headed fly. His ploy works and "Helene Delambre" tells her story, in a flashback, to her brother-in-law and the inspector.

The audience sees a very happy family of "Andre", "Helene", and their son "Phillipe".

Scientist "Andre Delambre" has been working on a "matter-transporter" he calls a "disintegrator-integrator" in his home basement laboratory. 

"Helene" is concerned that "Andre" is overworked and comes to the lab where he demonstrates his invention on a plate by sending it from one table-top chamber to another, but the words "made in Japan" demonstrate his major problem by coming out in reverse.

"Andre" believes he has fixed his creation and tests in on the family's pet cat.

The cat disintegrates in the first chamber, but never reappears in the other one. However, the sound of a cat meowing is heard in different parts of the house as the invisible cat appears to be alive, but in some form of limbo.

To get his mind off his work, "Helene" asks "Andre" to accompany her to the ballet, but as he watches the production his mind is elsewhere, and "Andre Delambre" thinks he has solved his problem.


"Andre" now constructs two human size chambers and connects them to his computer system.

"Helene" is again concerned, because "Andre" went into his laboratory two days prior and has not come out or called her. She goes down to the basement and enters the laboratory to find her husband's head draped in a black piece of cloth and what appears to be a deformity of his left hand that he hides inside a coat pocket.

"Andre" uses his typewriter, hitting one key at a time, to tell "Helene" his experiment worked once, and he was transported from one chamber to the other without incident. He decided to try it again and unnoticed by "Andre" a fly got into the first chamber with him. The fly got out of the laboratory and has a white head, "Helene" must find it and bring it back to him alive. He will not let her see his hand or touch the black cloth.

"Helene" now get their son "Phillipe" to help in the search for "The Fly".

The search for the white-headed-fly is becoming impossible, at one time it was seen, but got away. Now in the laboratory "Andre" gets "Helene" to try an experiment, he wants her to transport him again in the belief that this might correct the accident. The hooded "Andre" gets inside the first chamber, "Helene" sends him to the next still wearing his hood.

He steps out of the second chamber and "Helene" pulls the hood off of "Andre" to see-----

As the search for the white-headed fly continues, the fly's brain is eliminating "Andre's".

"Helene" is now frantic, but more so is "Andre"!

"Andre" now comes up with the plan to kill himself with "Helene's" assistance before he loses all his humanity. At "Delambre Frere" he sets the dials on the hydraulic press, something "Helene" wouldn't know how to do and shows her what to press. Next, "Andre Delambre" places his head and left arm in position.

"Helene's" story ends with both "Francois" and "Inspector Charas" watching as she is prepared to be taken to an asylum!

Walking in the garden the two men are discussing what might really have happened and are approached by "Phillipe" who says he found the white-headed fly. They go over to a spider's web and about to be killed is a fly with "Andre's" head crying out a classic line:

"Inspector Charas" picks up a rock and kills both the spider and the fly. "Francois" turns to "Charas" and calmly mentions to him that if "Helene" is being committed to an asylum for killing a man with a fly's head, then shouldn't he be committed to the same asylum for killing a fly with a man's head?

The movie ends with "Helene" and "Phillipe" walking with "Francois" in the garden.

"The Fly" make-up was by Ben Nye and among his similar works are on 1951's, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", 1959's, "Journey to the Center of the Earth", 1960's, "The Lost World", and 1968's, "Planet of the Apes".

The second entry to the "Delambre Family" story is not as skillfully done as the first but does provide solid entertainment.

RETURN OF THE FLY released on July 22, 1959

Above is the United Kingdom poster restricting access to "Adults Only" aka: 16-years or older. I was 12 years old when I saw it on a double bill with "The Alligator People", starring Beverly Garland, Roger Corman's 1956, "It Conquered the World", and Richard Crane, televisions "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger".

The motion picture was written and directed by Edward Bernds. He also wrote and directed 1956's, "World Without End", and directed and co-wrote both 1958's, "Space Master X-7", and "Queen of Outer Space".

The Main Cast:

Vincent Price returned as "Francois Delambre". He had just starred in William Castle's original 1959, "House on Haunted Hill", and followed this feature with Castle's 1959, "The Tingler". My article, "A Tale of WILLIAM CASTLE the Motion Picture 'Gimmick King", may be read at:

Brett Halsey portrayed "Phillipe Delambre". Halsey was basically a television actor, although also in 1959 in co-starred with Arthur Franz in the cult science fiction picture, "The Atomic Submarine" and in 1963, was in the horror entry, "Nathanel Hawthrone's Twice-Told Tales" that starred Vincent Price.

David Frankham portrayed "Ronald Holmes aka: Alan Hinds". British actor Frankham, other than playing an uncredited British officer in Walt Disney's 1957 "Johnny Tremain", until this picture appeared only on American television, which he returned to afterwards. In 1961 he did co-star with Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, and Henry Hull, in Jules Verne's "Master of the World", 

In the above still, how good are your eyes? The prop cane in David Frankham's hands was used at least once before in 1941's, "The Wolf Man".

John Sutton portrayed "Police Inspector Beecham", Herbert Marshall was supposed to reprise his role, but was seriously ill at the time. British actor Sutton was born in a part of India that is now a part of Pakistan. His first on-screen appearance was in 1936, over his career he was seen in Cecil B. DeMille's 1938, "The Buccaneer", the Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland 1939, "The Adventures of Robin Hood", the Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price, 1939 "Tower of London", in 1940 with Vincent Price it was "The Invisible Man Returns", and in 1948, John Sutton was "The Duke of Buckingham" in MGM's "The Three Musketeers", starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, June Allyson, Van Heflin, Angela Lansbury and a scene stealing Vincent Price as "Cardinal Richelieu".

Danielle De Metz portrayed "Cecile Bonnard".  This was her first on-screen appearance and then it was television afterwards. 

Overview of the Edward Bernds Screenplay:

The setting is 15-years after the 1958 original's story line, and now an adult, "Phillipe Delambre" is determined to vindicate his father's work on a "disintegrator-integrator". The movie opens with the funeral of "Phillipe's" mother, "Helene Delambre" attended by his uncle, "Francois Delambre".

"Francois" and "Phillipe" are approached by a reporter named "Granville", played by Jack Daly, asking questions about "Andre's" experiments and is asked to leave.

"Phillipe" wants his uncle to help him restart his father's work, but "Francois" refuses and advises him not to go there as they return to the "Delambre Estate".

"Francois" visits his brother's now musty basement laboratory left just as it was the night that "Helene" followed "Andre's" instructions to kill the part human part fly he had become at "Delambre Frere" and is joined by "Phillipe".

Again, "Francois" refuses to help his nephew, who cannot perform all the work by himself, and from "Delambre Frere" he hires technician "Alan Hinds" to work on his project and the two start on the clean-up of the laboratory. 

"Phillipe" loves "Cecile Bonnard", the daughter of the housekeeper that lives with her mother on the second floor of the main house, and she in turn loves him,

"Phillipe" runs out of his own money and the equipment is not yet ready for use. He again asks "Francois" for help, but he still refuses the young scientist with concerns of what might happen if the experiment is restarted. When his nephew threatens to sell his half of "Delambre Frere", the other gives in. 

"Alan Hinds" is really "Ronald Holmes" an industrial spy working for "Max Barthold", played by Dan Seymour, director Howard Hawks' 1944 "To Have and Have Not", starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and director John Huston's 1948 "Key Largo", starring Bogart, Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson.

"Phillipe", "Francois", and "Alan" get the "disintegrator-integrator" system working and they dematerialize a guinea pig in the first chamber, but do not materialize it in the second chamber just then.

While "Phillipe" and 'Franciois" are away, "Robert Holmes" starts putting together the paperwork he plans to steal for "Max Barthold". A British agent that has been tracking down "Holmes" has entered the house unobserved and made his way down to the laboratory, the two fight and the agent is knocked out. Hearing the housekeeper upstairs, "Holmes" places the agent in the first chamber and dematerializes his body as a means of hiding him and replaces the paperwork.

Once he is alone again, "Robert Holmes" rematerializes the British agent, only to find he has the paws of the guinea pig and the guinea pig the agent's hands. It gets out and "Holmes" steps upon it and kills the guinea pig, he next takes the body of the agent upstairs, making sure no one sees him, puts the body in the trunk of the agent's car and drives the car go into the St. Lawrence River.

"Inspector Beecham" has been investigating the disappearance of the British agent and has learned that "Alan Hinds/Robert Holmes" is working with "Phillipe" and leaves his office for the estate.

At the "Delambre Estate", "Robert Holmes" is confronted by "Phillippe", who learns the truth about the other and "Max Barthold", "Phillipe" goes for the pistol being held by the man he knew as "Alan Hinds" and a fight takes place.

"Phillipe" is knocked out and placed into the first chamber, but "Holmes" hears the sound of a fly and knows that "Phillipe Delambre" deathly fears that sound. "Holmes" catches the fly, places it into the chamber and dematerializes it with "Phillipe". "Francois" has entered the basement laboratory and is knocked out by "Holmes" who leaves with the papers for "Max Barthold".

Arriving at the "Delambre Estate", "Inspector Beecham" is met by "Cecile Bonnard" who comes down from her room. The two cannot locate either "Phillipe", or "Francois" in the upstairs area of the home and go to the basement laboratory. There they find the knocked out "Francois" and "Cecile" attends to him, while "Beecham" has found signs that the missing British agent was there at some time.

The recovered "Francois" realizes that the "disintegrator-integrator" was partly used, but whatever was sent through the machine has not been materialized in the second chamber. He finishes the process and actress Danielle De Metz does her best Patricia Owens impersonation.

As the other three watch in horror, "Phillipe" goes up the staircase and after the two men responsible, "Robert Holmes" and "Max Barthold". "Francois" has "Cecile' and "Inspector Beecham" help him search for the fly and it is located and placed in a jar with air holes.

"Phillipe" enters the mortuary run as a front by "Max Barthold" and kills him.

Next, he waits for the expected arrival of "Robert Holmes" and kills him too.

"Phillipe" his mind starting to be influenced by "The Fly" goes to the "Delambre Estate" and the upstairs room occupied by "Cecile". She awakes, screams, and "Phillipe" collapses on her bed. 

"Francois" and "Inspector Beecham" get "Phillipe" down to the basement laboratory and into the first chamber. The fly is put in the first chamber with "Phillipe" and "Francois" starts the "disintegrator-integrator" and both his nephew, and the fly dematerialize. They both rematerialize in the second chamber, the fly as it should be, and "Phillipe" as he should be for this features happy ending.

"The Fly" make-up was created by Hal Lierley, who had worked without credited on director Bill Wilder and actor Kirk Douglas' 1951 "Ace in the Hole', both 1956's "Around the World in 80 Days", and the musical "The King and I", and 1957's, "Three Faces of Eve", among other films since 1938.

There was one final and the least known chapter in the "DELAMBRE SAGA" that came from the United Kingdom but was released first in the United States.

CURSE OF THE FLY premiered on March 31, 1965, in Phoenix, Arizona

The picture was directed by Australian John Sharp. Sharp directed six episodes of the popular 1961 British television series "The Ghost Squad", Hammer Films 1963, "Kiss of the Vampire", and Hammer Films 1964, "The Devil-Ship Pirates", starring Christopher Lee and Andrew Keir.

The screenplay was by Harry Spalding, 1962's, "The Day Mars Invaded the Earth", using the name Henry Cross, the very similar 1964 British film, "The Earth Dies Screaming", 1964's, "Witchcraft", starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and 1980's, "Watcher in the Woods" for Walt Disney Productions and starring Bette Davis.

The Main Cast:

Brian Donlevy portrayed "Henri Delambre". The American actor portrayed "Professor Quatermass" in the first two motion pictures from Hammer Films based upon the popular BBC series and had just been seen in a 1964 episode of the anthology series, "The Dupont Show of the Week", entitled, "Jeremy Rabbit-The Secret Avenger", and would follow this motion picture with a "Beach Party" entry, 1965's, 'How to Stuff a Wild Bikini". My article, "Brian Donlevy: Atomic Bombs, Space Aliens, Insects and Daikaiju" is available for reading at:

George Baker portrayed "Martin Delambre". The Bulgarian born actor was portraying "Stewart Caxton" on the 1964 British television series, "Curtain of Fear", and would follow this motion picture with other British television appearances.

Carole Gray portrayed "Patricia Stanley". Rhodesian actress Gray only has thirteen on-screen roles, and this was her seventh appearance. In 1966 she appeared in the Edward Judd and Peter Cushing, "Island of Terror", and "The Brides of Fu Manchu", starring Christopher Lee.

Screenplay writer Harry Spalding reimagined the short story by George Langelaan and asked the question after you have been combined with the genes of a fly, are you still human? There isn't anybody with a head, or arm of a fly in this picture.

The setting is the "Delambre Estate", but the story begins one night on a darken Montreal, Canada, road. "Martin Delambre" is driving on it and his headlights reveal a young woman, "Patricia Stanley" running in her underwear. He stops his car and picks her up, cut to a short time later, and the two have married, but each holds a secret from the other. "Patricia" had escaped from an asylum on the night they met and is being pursued and "Martin" holds a terrible family secret.

The two now return to the "Delambre Estate" and "Martin" introduces his wife to his father, "Henri Delambre". What "Henri's" relationship to "Andre" and "Phillipe" isn't really established in this scene, but there is a story connection to come.

"Martin" and his father have improved on "Andre's" "disintegrator-integrator" at least in appearance, and have successfully teleported people from Montreal, Canada, to London, England, but earlier attempts have created horribly disfigured failures. One of which is "Martin Delambre's" supposedly dead first wife, "Judith", portrayed by English actress Mary Manson.

In London at the other end of the teleportation project is "Martin's" brother, "Albert Delambre", played by English television actor Michael Graham, who wants to end the project and go about his own life.

While, "Police Inspector Ronet", played by Jeremy Wilkin,

and the head of the asylum, "Madame Fournier", played by Rachel Kempson, 

have traced "Patricia Stanley" to the "Delambre Estate" and the fact her husband, "Martin" never divorced his first wife, and she seems to have just disappeared.

"Inspector Ronet" decides to visit "Inspector Charas", played by Charles Carson, now a very old man living his last days in a hospital bed. "Charas" tells "Ronet" the history of "Andre Delambre" and his work. "Charas" also serves to tell the audience that many years have passed since even the events of "The Return of the Fly". There is an implication that "Henri Delambre" might be "Phillipe's" son, but that is not made very clear.

It is revealed that "Martin" needs to take a special serum to avoid aging as he is genetically part fly and like one, will age rapidly. After "Ronet's" visit with "Charas" the police are now looking very closely at the "Delambre Family" that forces "Henri" into rethinking his situation.

At the estate, "Patricia" has met "Judith" and now wants to investigate a locked building outside that contains the other test subjects of "Henri" and her husband. She learns what in there, but now is drugged by "Henri" and "Martin" to be teleported to London with them, before the police arrive. 

"Henri" and "Martin" send two of their assistants together to London, but when "Albert" sees the two bodies joined into a single mass of living flesh, he takes an ax and kills it, then destroys the London end of the system and leaves never to be seen again.

"Henri" wants "Patricia" prepared to be sent to London, but "Martin" is concerned that she might be harmed in the process. Neither knowing that "Albert' has destroyed the London end, "Henri" enters the Montreal chamber to prove its safe and is sent into floating atoms without a place to reform.

Now "Martin' who is feeling the effects on not taking the anti-aging serum gets "Patricia" into the chamber and prepares to send her to London, but she regains consciousness.

Meanwhile, "Inspector Ronet" approaching the estate in his car passes another with the two Chinese servants and assistants of the "Delambre's", "Tai", played by Burt Kwouk, and "Wan", played by Yvette Rees, fleeing to avoid the police and their questioning.

While that is happening, "Patricia" is able to get out of the chamber and away from "Martin". She starts to run out of the house with him in pursuit, but the genetically aging process is slowing "Martin Delambre" down. "Ronet" parks in front of the main house, sees "Patricia", running away and goes after her. When he catches up, he notices a skeleton all that remains of "Martin" and the inspector escorts "Patricia" back to the house and they end.

The picture ends with the following title card:

On August 15, 1986, director David Cronenberg released his version of George Langelaan's short story, but other than the basic concept of matter transportation it did not concern the "Delambre Family" and was totally a different story line.

Cecil B. DeMille: December 1913 to December 1923

 --- but DeMille said “Let There Be Biblical Sex” and it was good. The above line is from my article, "The Bible According to Hollywood...