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Cape Fear (1962)

 -  Thriller  -  12 April 1962 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 17,706 users  
Reviews: 138 user | 75 critic

A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

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

Now, he had only one weapon left - Murder!...To prevent an even more shocking crime! See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The hotel where Mitchum takes Barrie Chase is "mother's house" from Psycho (1960), where Martin Balsam met his demise two years earlier. See more »

Goofs

Animal sounds heard along the river in the scene where the private detective hands over the suitcase to Mrs Bowden are not those of the local fauna. One can distinctly hear the laughing voice of the kookaburra, a bird found only in Australia. See more »

Quotes

Police Chief Mark Dutton: [Bowden has told Dutton that he's worried about Max Cady] You have a dog don't you, Sam?
Sam Bowden: She couldn't bite through a doughnut; but she's a good barker.
Police Chief Mark Dutton: Well, that's good enough. I'll call you when they pick him up.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Civil Wars: Tape Fear (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
More than just creepy
4 August 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

For the first time Hitchcock was decisively beaten at his own game. This is one of the tensest films ever made, and also one of the most perfectly crafted. There are so many things right about it I can afford to concentrate on just two:

(1) Sam Bowden is a firm believer in the sanctity of civil liberties until Cady starts to stalk his family - and he remains a believer even then. He is asked if he really wants the police to have the power to arrest citizens on suspicion alone; and, although his family is in danger, he cannot honestly answer yes. `Cape Fear' is clearly the product of a less bloodthirsty age. But it is the better for it: a clash between deeply held principles and deeply held desires isn't at all interesting unless it really IS a clash - unless the principles are strong enough not to give way at the first breath of wind. And damn it, Bowden is right. The police do NOT have the right to arrest Cady. The potential tragedy is genuine: not something that could be cleaned up if only so-and-so would drop a few pointless scruples.

(2) Robert Mitchum really alarms us. I think it's because his motivations are a little, but not entirely, opaque. When we first see him eyeing Bowden's teen-aged daughter, we don't know exactly what he's thinking any more than Sam does. Is he sexually attracted to her? Does he want to kill her? Rape her? Is he indifferent but just trying to get a rise out of Sam? Indeed: what, exactly, does he want to do to Sam himself? We don't know: and this uncertainty is worse than any precise knowledge.

I doubt I've said enough. `Cape Fear' is riveting from first frame to last. It's well shot, the acting is excellent, and Bernard Herrmann gives us his usual fitting score. It appeals to the intellect as much as to the pit of the stomach. Great stuff.


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