Spielberg Sued For Copying REAR WINDOW With DISTURBIA

Posted on 09 September 2008 by Rich Drees

When Disturbia was released last year, many folks noted the amazing number of similarities between the Shia LaBeouf movie and director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 classic Rear Window. Well, it looks like the copyright holder of the original short story that Hitchcock’s film was based on has noticed those similarities too, as they have filed an infirngement suit against Disturbia executive producer Steven Spielberg, studio Dreamworks, its parent company Viacom and the film’s distributor Universal Pictures.

The suit was filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court by the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, the owners of the 1942 Cornell Woolrich short story “It Had To Be Murder,” upon which the Hitchcock film was made. The short story, Hitchcock’s film and Disturbia all feature protagonists who believe that they have witnessed a murder in an apartment in a building opposite of their own. “In the Disturbia film the defendants purposefully employed immaterial variations or transparent rephrasing to produce essentially the same story as the Rear Window story,” the filing stated.

This should be an interesting case, as there have been many other films that have elements similar to Woolrich’s story. Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery features a couple who believe their elderly neighbor has murdered his wife. Much of Brian DePalma’s early career contains nods to Hitchcock, with Rear Window‘s influence being strongly seen on 1984’s Body Double. How does 2001’s Head Over Heels, with its plot of a woman falling in love with a man whom she thinks has committed a murder, not count as an infringemet of the story? 

Via National Post.

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