7.7/10
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Cape Fear (1962)

Passed | | Drama, Thriller | 20 May 1962 (Canada)
A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail.

Director:

J. Lee Thompson

Writers:

John D. MacDonald (novel), James R. Webb (screenplay)

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... Sam Bowden
Robert Mitchum ... Max Cady
Polly Bergen ... Peggy Bowden
Lori Martin ... Nancy Bowden
Martin Balsam ... Police Chief Mark Dutton
Jack Kruschen ... Attorney Dave Grafton
Telly Savalas ... Private Detective Charles Sievers
Barrie Chase ... Diane Taylor
Paul Comi ... Garner
John McKee John McKee ... Officer Marconi
Page Slattery Page Slattery ... Deputy Kersek
Ward Ramsey ... Officer Brown
Edward Platt ... Judge
Will Wright ... Dr. Pearsall
Joan Staley ... Waitress
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Storyline

Small-town lawyer Sam Bowden's life becomes torturous when Max Cady re-enters his life. Cady went to jail for 8 years after Bowden testified that Cady attacked a young woman. Now that Cady has been released, he begins to terrorize Bowden and his family, particularly targeting Bowden's daughter, Nancy. Initially, Cady uses his newfound knowledge of the law (learned in prison) to annoy the Bowdens, then poisons the family dog... Who's next ? Written by Chris Holland <cholland@atlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

CHILLING SUSPENSE in the screen's most gripping war of nerves! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 May 1962 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

The Executioners See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Charlton Heston, Jack Palance, and John Wayne were all considered for the role of Sam Bowden. Peck was a last-minute replacement for Heston, who was originally cast. See more »

Goofs

For some strange reason, just after Sam shoots Cady, the shot of Cady from Sam's POV shows the branches of a bush superimposed on the bottom and left side of the frame. The tipoff is that when the camera moves the branches of the "bush" do not - they move along with the camera, as if they're glued onto the frame (which they are). See more »

Quotes

Diane Taylor: [Diane is cuddling with Max as he is driving] Why are we going this way?
Max Cady: Better scenery.
Diane Taylor: What would you know about scenery? Or beauty? Or any of the things that really make life worth living? You're just an animal: coarse, lustful, barbaric.
Max Cady: Keep right on talkin', honey. I like it when you run me down like that.
Diane Taylor: Max Cady, what I like about you is... you're rock bottom. I wouldn't expect you to understand this, but it's a great comfort for a girl to know she could not possibly sink any lower.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good drama made great by an excellent Mitchum
5 December 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Sam Bowden is a lawyer who, eight years ago, acted as a witness against Max Cady to put him behind bars. Released from prison, Cady has studied the law and is set on terrorising the Bowdens without actually overstepping his legal rights. As Cady toes the line with increasingly worrying results, Browden begins to cross the line to deal with him and protect his family.

Having seen the remake first I wanted to go back and see it done originally. My first impression was that the remake had done some elements better than this. For example Nolte's lawyer is a lot less clean-cut than Pecks'. Also the sexual threat to the daughter is a lot more played out in the remake. Getting past this I saw how this was actually a better film in many ways. As a drama it moves along at a good pace – not jumping from one thrill to the next but not dragging either.

The film can only hint at the deeds of Cady because of the censors but it is clear even to the blind that Cady is a monster. This ups the tension as everything is slowly build to and we don't get a bloody or sexually shocking scene as a pay-off, no, here the tension is build on top of other tension. The direction is good, giving a dark feel to the look of the film as well as hinting constantly. Even if some of the thrills are signposted it still works well.

However, without Mitchum's performance this would be a very different film. With the help of De Niro's sneer or menacing tattoos, he is still a better Cady. He is on top form – where De Niro wore his threat large, Mitchum hints at it under a veneer of casual disinterest, making the threat seem bigger when he acts. Peck is good even if his character is too clean-cut when he should have been pushed further over the line for my tastes. Bergen doesn't have much to do, but her final scene with Mitchum is powerful and she really lets rip. Martin is perfectly cast – she looks like a child but also is `developed' enough to be a sexual role for Mitchum to prey on. It is easy to watch her as Mitchum closes in on her, almost licking his lips, but that's the power of the film.

Overall this manages to be powerful and thrilling despite the censors and is a really good drama. However it is totally carried by a monstrous yet subtle performance by Mitchum. De Niro was good in the role but once you've seen this you'll realise that menace can be acted subtly and not just by sneering and getting tonnes of tattoos.


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