ABSTRACT

Between July 1925 and March 1928, Bernard Shaw clashed with an attorney called Jesse Levinson over whether any cinematic version of The Chocolate Soldier would infringe his copyright on Arms and the Man. The case charted novel contours of intellectual property rights with regard to “talking picture” adaptation. Shaw would, in the course of preparing for this particular trial, discover that stunning acts of plagiarism had already occurred in the musical adaptation of Arms and the Man, entailing consequences for its prospective transfer to film. Although it caught the attention of the press at the time, the protracted legal dispute receives scarce mention in the scholarly conversation around Shaw’s life and writing. A much fuller account of it, however, emerges from the archived casefile of Shaw’s London solicitors, newly acquired by David Grapes.

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