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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
The Fly (short story)

"The Fly"

Short story

Written by George Langelann

1957

 

A scientist develops a matter teleporter. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Read the entire story at The Unravelling Of Al Cook

 

Didja Know?

 

"The Fly" is a short story by George Langelann (1908-1972) first published in the June 1957 issue of Playboy. It served as the inspiration for both the 1958 and 1986 films called The Fly. Langelann was a French-British writer and former spy during WWII. 

 

Characters appearing or mentioned in this story

 

François Delambre

Hélène Delambre

André Delambre (dies in this story)

Commissaire Charas

Henri Delambre

Professor Augier (mentioned only)

Dandelo (the Delambre cat, mentioned only, deceased)

the Drillons (mentioned only)

Miquette (the Delambre dog)

 

Didja Notice?

 

Chapter I

 

The story is set in France. For the 1958 and 1986 film adaptations, the setting was moved to Canada, presumably to appease North American audiences. Possibly the large French-speaking population of Canada played a role in the decision as well, as a way of having the story remain French, but still be in English!

 

The narrator of the story is François Delambre. The same character appears in the 1958 film, played by Vincent Price.

 

François answers the phone, "Ici Monsieur Delambre. Je vous ecoute." This is French for "Monsieur Delambre here. I'm listening."

 

After François calls the police, Commissaire Charas investigates the death of André Delambre. Commissaire is French for "Commissioner".

 

Commissaire Charas drives a Citroën. The company has been known to provide vehicles for French law enforcement virtually since its formation in 1919.

 

François informs Commissaire Charas that his brother was a scientist working for the Ministere de l’Air. This is French for Ministry of Air.

 

Chapter II

 

François is able to identify his brother's body, even though his head was crushed, by the long scar running from his knee to thigh incurred from an exploding shell during the retreat of 1940. The retreat he refers to is the fall of French military forces against the Axis invasion and occupation of France in 1940 during WWII.

 

The Lyons police laboratory performs forensics on André's remains. Lyons is the third-largest city in France; presumably the Delambres live in or near that city.

 

The young son of Hélène and André is named Henri; in the 1958 film, the boy is called Philippe. Here, Hélène is put into a mental asylum for the murder of her husband and François gains legal custody of the boy; Hélène remained free in the film, even while under suspicion.

 

The story uses the term "morphia" for the drug morphine. "Morphia" was simply an earlier term for the drug, still in use in 1957 when the story was written.

 

Chapter III

 

François pours some wine for his nephew Henri to dip a biscuit in. In France, the legal age to drink wine and beer is 16 (18 for harder liquor). Although the story implies that Henri is younger than that, it is tolerated in the country for younger children to drink wine when with a parent (or, in this case, guardian).

 

Henri tells his uncle that he has seen the fly Maman has been looking for. Maman is French for "mum".

 

François remarks that his brother used to like to watch the Tour de France cyclists go by. The Tour de France is an annual men's bicycle race in France that lasts 23 days, established in 1903.

 

Chapter IV

 

Hélène's "confession" letter describes some of her husband's matter-transmitting experiments, including transmitting a souvenir ash tray they'd picked up on a trip to London.

 

Hélène writes that, in explaining his recent experiments, André told her about "...mysterious flying stones that seem to come from nowhere in particular, and which are said to occasionally fall in certain houses in India? They come flying in as though thrown from outside and that, in spite of closed doors and windows." He had discussed the cases with his friend Professor Augier of the Collège de France. The so-called "shower of stones", both inside and outside a house, is an alleged actual Fortean phenomenon. Professor Augier is also mentioned in the 1958 film.

 

André occasionally uses the affectionate term chérie with his wife; this is French for "darling".

 

André admits to his wife that he disintegrated their cat Dandelo and he never rematerialized in the receiving chamber. The same thing happens in the 1958 film version, down to the cat's name (though in the film, the cat is a female rather than male).

 

When André tells Hélène that he's finally perfected his teleporter, Hélène exclaims, "Magnifique, Andre!" Magnifique is French for "magnificent".

 

André has purchased a pair of telephone booths and converted one into a disintegrator and the other into a reintegrator. In the 1986 film version, the telepods don't really look like phone booths, but when Brundle first shows them to Ronnie, she remarks, "Designer phone booths."

 

After successfully demonstrating the disintegrator-reintegrator to his wife, André says, "Et voila!" This is French for "There you go!"

 

After André successfully teleports a guinea pig in front of Hélène, she sort of adopts the little critter and names it Hop-la. Hop-la is a French term meaning "there we go". I guess she was inspired by her husband's use of et voila ("there you go") after he'd teleported the creature.

 

After Hélène learns of her husband's horrible "deformity" of his arm, he types out a note to her which includes ma pauvre chérie, "my poor darling."

 

André tries re-teleporting himself seven times (without the white-headed fly) to fix himself, but it doesn't work. In fact, when he tries an eighth time at his wife's urging, he rematerializes with parts of a cat's head as well from the lost Dandelo! This part of the transformation does not occur in the 1958 film version.

 

Chapter V

 

Commissaire Charas says, "Merci," as François' maid takes his raincoat. Merci is French for "Thank you."

 

François gives Charas a glass of Pernod.

 

François' maid announces, "Monsieur est servi." This is French for "Sir is served", meaning "dinner is served".


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