LITERATURE: Stories for Late at Night – Hmmm….

Just finished two stories, George Langelaan’s The Fly, which was the basis for two movies, one in 1958 and the remake we all know, in 1986.  Langelaan was credited in each movie.

The other is Our Feathered Friends by Philip McDonald (1900-1980) which appeared first in a collection When Churchyards Yawn (London, Hutchinson) in 1931, then in this Hitchcock Presents in 1961, and in The Saint Detective Magazine in 1963.  Even from the title, I thought of Hitchcock’s 1963 movie, The Birds. But in the movie, the credited writer is Daphne DuMaurier, based on her short story, The Birds, first published in 1953, and again in 1963.

Of course the same idea occurs to different authors, but the tie-in here is Hitchcock, and I’m wondering why MacDonald, who was alive when both DuMaurier’s story and the movie came out, didn’t take note of the similarities.  Here’s an excerpt from Our Feathered Friends:

The birds were nearer.  Much, much nearer.  And their line was solid now; an unbroken semicircle with bounding-line so wide-flung that he felt rather than saw its extent.  (…) Even as he stared, his face pale now, and his eyes wide with something like terror, that semicircle drew yet nearer, each unit of it taking four hops and four hops only.  Now, its line unmarred, it was close upon the edge of the moss.  (p. 223)

Through the pall of silence he could feel those countless eyes upon him.  Little eyes; bright, glittering eyes… (p. 224)

There were two feathered mounds which screamed and ran and leapt, and at last lay and were silent.  (p. 224)

Not hard to imagine that DuMaurier was influenced by seeing a flock of birds watching a farmer plow his field, and later hearing that a single bird attacked him as he opened a window, but somehow, MacDonald’s story seems even closer to the what the movie presents as a dedicated plot of attack on humans by the birds.

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