Sheldon Abend was a literary agent who purchased the rights to “It Had to Be Murder,” a 1942 short story by Cornell Woolrich that was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock into “Rear Window.” He died in 2003, but his estate endures and has finally noticed that the 2007 Shia LaBeouf thriller “Disturbia” is an awful lot like Hitch’s film and filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Abend was litigious in life, too: “It Had to Be Murder” has already been the basis of an influential copyright case, 1990’s Stewart v. Abend — that would be Jimmy Stewart, and there are more details at Wikipedia.
On the Hitchcock tip, John Russell Taylor at the London Times asks if the director really was a misogynist, and attempts to refute what’s become generally accepted with anecdotes. Strangest snippet:
The playwright Rodney Ackland, who worked with Hitchcock on the script of Number Seventeen in 1932, was exceptional in that he was openly gay. Hitch was fascinated, and once said to him: “I think I would have been a poof if I hadn’t met Alma at the right time.” An exaggerated view of his coming to terms with his feminine side? Who can say? But undeniably he was more at home with women.
Also at the Times — Jonathan Coe draws comparisons between Hitchcock and Disney, noting that they were both “brands,” and that they both displayed a “virulent streak of sadism.” And Sally Kinnes gets Hitchcock quotes from Stephen Frears (“When I made Dangerous Liaisons, the shot of Glenn Close and John Malkovich coming downstairs is absolutely based on the ending of Notorious.”), Anna Massey, Bharat Nalluri and others.
[Photo: “Disturbia,” Paramount Pictures, 2007]