7.8/10
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Cape Fear (1962)

Approved | | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 12 April 1962 (USA)
A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Attorney Dave Grafton
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Paul Comi ...
Garner
John McKee ...
Officer Marconi
Page Slattery ...
Deputy Kersek
Ward Ramsey ...
Officer Brown
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Judge
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Dr. Pearsall
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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:

What Happens Between Them is an Adventure in the Unusual! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 April 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Executioners  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rod Steiger wanted to play Max Cady, but he backed off when he heard Robert Mitchum was considering the role. See more »

Goofs

When Sam is at the boat dock he goes into the shop and gets some thinner. As he is leaving the shop he has the thinner in his left hand. Then when he confronts Caty the thinner is gone and then he takes his daughter down the stairs the thinner is never seen again. 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

Featured in Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"You're Just An Animal!"
2 January 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

One perverse individual can exploit his freedom by using it to encroach on someone else's. That is the problem with a society which cherishes personal liberty. The community has the dilemma of deciding whose freedom it ought to protect. At what point should the state intervene?

Today, modern democracies have anti-harrassment laws which carry criminal penalties, and there is also the civil remedy of an injunction with power of arrest, but back in the early 1960's a man who chose to make a nuisance of himself enjoyed wide latitude. It was difficult for the law to step in without infringing his civil and constitutional rights.

Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) is a small-town attorney in the south-eastern United States. He has a lovely family and a nice home, and is well thought of by neighbours and colleagues alike. This American idyll is destroyed when a newly-released convict shows up, intent on harrassing Bowden. Some years back, the lawyer had appeared as a witness at this man's trial, and the convict bears an irrational grudge.

Max Cady is one of the cinema's great villains. Mitchum is irresistible as the heavy-eyed smart alec seething with sexual energy. Cady's sharp but warped intelligence is disturbing to behold (the way he obtains Bowden's vacation address is chillingly impressive). He begins to show up wherever Bowden goes, an ominous sarcastic presence to which no objection can be made, so long as he stays within the law. Cady's salient traits are placed before us right from the start of the film. He is completely callous (ignoring the girl who drops her books on the stairs) and a nasty sexual predator (picking up the waitress in the bowling alley).

"Cape Fear" is a taut, absorbing thriller. Mitchum's charisma fills the screen, and the dark eerie look (by Director of Photography Sam Leavitt) compounds the feeling of menace. The incidental music is excellent.

However, the film has some implausible ingredients. Why would a woman who has just been sexually degraded, and is clearly traumatised, be handed over by the police to the care of a private eye? (Charlie Sievers the gumshoe is played by Telly Savalas - with hair!) Would a criminal attorney really - no matter what the provocation - hire waterfront thugs to beat up a stalker? How come Sam's gun is still effective after being immersed in the river? Why doesn't Nancy's phone work? It is preposterous to suggest that Cady would waste time on the elaborate feint towards Peggy instead of pursuing his real victim. And how can it be that Cady can defeat three ruffians single-handed, overwhelm a police bodyguard with ease, yet fail to defeat Sam, even when armed with a stick?

Verdict - Allowing for the improbabilities, this is a well-made thriller with a magnificent performance by Mitchum.


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