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The Fly began as a short story that was first published in Playboy in 1957. While odd in retrospect, the magazine printed several horror and science fiction stories, since Hugh Hefner was a fan of both genres.
Seeing the story’s potential, independent film producer Robert Lippert Sr. purchased the rights, and it was soon off to the races at Fox. Lippert’s forward thinking made him a nice profit too, as he locked in the potential for sequels. The Fly was met with critical and commercial success and two sequels followed – Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly.
1. It had a good budget.
As director Kurt Neumann reflected, “The day of the shoddy-looking, cheap exploitation feature is over… Today, science-fiction films must be believable. They should impart a sense of plausibility and be backed by solid production values.” The Fly echoed this sentiment with a budget of $350 thousand – as opposed to the normal $90 thousand for a science fiction "B" picture. It paid off too, as the film grossed over $3 million.
2. This scene was hard to film!
When shooting the part where Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall see a spider attacking the scientist (who now has the body of a fly), the pair had a hard time. The director asked a script clerk to feed them the fly’s lines so they’d have something to react to. The result was unintentionally funny. Price recalled, “We were playing this scene, looking at the fly, saying, ‘Should we kill it? Should we save it?’ and we could never quite get the lines out because every time that little voice of the fly would say, ‘Help me. Please help me,’ we would just scream with laughter! It was terrible. We ended up doing about twenty takes.”
3. The fly costume was heavy!
David Hedison, who played the fly, had quite the time with the costume. The head piece by itself weighed 25 pounds. He said, “Trying to act in it was like trying to play the piano with boxing gloves on.” The prop also had a wooden plug inside it which allowed Hedison to maneuver the fly’s “nose” when he wiggled it with his mouth. Originally, the eyes were beaded domes, but after a screen test, they were made golden and iridescent so they would appear better.
4. There’s a familiar prop!
The laboratory alone cost approximately $28 thousand to make, and it consisted of army surplus equipment. It also used EMERAC, the computer which debuted in Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s Desk Set. Special effects artist Ray Kellogg built the computer prop, using approximately 9 thousand light bulbs and ten miles of wiring. The prop would also be re-used for What a Way to Go! and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.