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Cape Fear (1962)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  12 April 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 19,142 users  
Reviews: 141 user | 79 critic

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



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 April 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Executioners  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director J. Lee Thompson complained at the time that UK censor John Trevelyan had ruined the film by making extensive cuts, and the number of edits suggested ranged from 60 to over 100. Trevelyan later replied that he had made only 15 cuts, totalling around 6 minutes, with edits made to threatening dialogue and assault references, Cady's attack on Peggy, and all shots of him staring longingly at Nancy. All later UK video releases restored the cinema cuts. See more »


When Nancy is being chased by who she believes to be Max, she runs into a room filled with lockers-we see her Right hand pressed up against a row of lockers and she is wearing a ring. In the very next frame, the ring is absent from her finger. See more »


Diane Taylor: [after Cady has beaten her, she prepares to leave town] You can't help me.
Charles Sievers: But I can. Now you file an assault charge and Cady'll get six months in jail.
Diane Taylor: Six months! And after that... When he walked out of this room he said... he said to consider this only a sample. And from my limited knowledge of human nature, Max Cady isn't a man who makes idle threats.
See more »


Spoofed in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Effective and somewhat ahead of it's time
6 July 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's nothing worse than a con who knows his way around the law,and exploits that knowledge to the hilt.Robert Mitchum does this very expertly in the original and best version of Cape Fear.You want to reach out and strangle him,but he is within the law,so you can't.This is the appeal of this film.It's the fuel that keeps it going from start to finish.Along with Mitchum,we have Gregory Peck as the tormented lawyer who sent Mitchum's character,Max Cady to jail for rape years earlier. Having studied law while behind bars,Cady's only intent with his gathering of this knowledge,is to torment Sam Bowden(Peck) and his family.It all leads to a classic finish.I truly believe that this film was a precursor to the thriller films of today.It was a sign of things to come in the cinematic world.It was way ahead of it's time.Worthy of note here is Robert Mitchum's ability to improvise almost to the point of becoming his character.The scene where he cracks the egg with his bare hand was not scripted,and the look of surprise on Polly Bergen's face was indeed real.Outstanding film.

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