Patricia Owens in ‘The Fly’ (1958)
Film Synopsis: (allmovie.com)
Wealthy Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) is discovered late at night in the factory owned by her husband Andre (David Hedison). Helene stands beside a huge metal press, which has crushed the head and arm of her husband. Held for murder, the near-catatonic Helene refuses to tell anyone–not even Andre’s brother Francois (Vincent Price)–why she did it. Francois cannot help but notice that Helene reacts in mortal terror when a tiny flies zips through the room. Nor can he disregard the statement made by Helene’s son Philippe (Charles Herbert) that the fly has a curious white head and leg. When Francois pretends that he’s captured the fly, Helene relaxes enough to tell her story. It seems that Andre, a scientist, had been working on a matter transmitter, which he claimed could disintegrate matter, then reintegrate it elsewhere. After a few experiments, Andre tried the transmitter himself. Just as he stepped into the disintegration chamber, a fly also flew into the chamber. We aren’t immediately shown the results of this, save for the fact that Andre afterward insists upon keeping his head and arm covered. Alone with her husband, Helene abruptly removes the covering, revealing that Andre now bears the head of a fly! His atoms have become mixed up with the fly, and now he is unable to reverse the procedure. Deciding that his transmitter will be a bogy rather than a blessing to mankind, Andre smashes the apparatus and burns his notes. He then instructs Helene, via body language, to crush his fly-like head and arm in the press. Neither Francois nor inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) believe the story…until, while staring intently at a spider’s web in the garden, they see a tiny entrapped fly with Andre’s head and arm, tinnily screaming “Help me! Help me!” as the slavering spider approaches (If you’re wondering why Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall do not look one another in the eye during this scene, it is because they couldn’t deliver their dialogue without dissolving into laughter). Infinitely subtler than the admittedly excellent 1986 remake, the 1958 The Fly is one of the definitive big-budget horror films of its decade. Best bit: the prismatic “fly’s eye view” of the screaming Patricia Owens. The Fly was adapted from George Langelaan’s short story by James (Shogun) Clavell.
Short Bio: (wikipedia.org)
Patricia Molly Owens (January 17, 1925 – August 31, 2000) was a Canadian-born American actress, working in Hollywood. She appeared in about 40 films and 10 TV episodes in a career lasting from 1943 to 1968.
Owens moved to England in 1933 with her parents (her father Arthur Owens who was later to become an MI5 double agent), and ten years later, at age 18, she made her motion-picture debut in Val Guest’s musical comedy Miss London Ltd. The following year, she had a small role in Harold French’s social satire English Without Tears. Her career continued in this manner for a few years, Owens getting ever-larger roles in movies.
Her career took a great step upward when she was seen by a 20th Century Fox executive while performing in a theatrical production of Sabrina Fair and was offered a screen test. The result was a contract with the studio and a move to Hollywood. Her first American film was Island in the Sun (1957) which was soon followed by the B-movie No Down Payment both for Fox, and then Owens was loaned out to Warner Bros. to play opposite Marlon Brando in the drama Sayonara (1957), one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. Owens spent the rest of 1957 working mostly on loan-out, but it was a Fox production that secured her place in motion picture history—as Helene Delambre, the wife of scientist Andre Delambre in The Fly (1958), co-starring with David Hedison and Vincent Price. Owens carried much of the film’s narrative, which was largely told in flashback from her character’s point-of-view.
Unfortunately for Owens, she never had another movie that was of the calibre of The Fly, from Fox or anyone else, and in 1961 was reduced to working in the threadbare, backlot POW/jungle chase drama Seven Women from Hell. Owens made occasional television appearances, on series such as Perry Mason and Burke’s Law, but these were relatively infrequent. Owens also starred in one of the 17 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents directed by Hitchcock himself, “The Crystal Trench” (1959). By 1965, she was working in Black Spurs, one of producer A.C. Lyles’ B-Westerns, renowned for their use of aging genre stars, and Owens retired from movies after portraying Richard Egan’s love interest in the low-budget espionage thriller The Destructors (1968). Her last professional appearance was in an episode of Lassie (1968).
She was the third wife of screenwriter and producer Sy Bartlett.