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Cape Fear (1991)

R  |   |  Crime, Thriller  |  15 November 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 118,412 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 258 user | 101 critic | 9 from

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.



(novel), (earlier screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zully Montero ...
Craig Henne ...
Forest Burton ...
Edgar Allan Poe IV ...
Rod Ball ...


Sam Bowden is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver"-esque family-man. Max Cady is a tattooed, cigar-smoking, bible-quoting, rapist. What do they have in common? Fourteen years, ago Sam was a public defender assigned to Max Cady's rape trial, and he made a serious error: he hid a document from his illiterate client that could have gotten him acquitted. Now, the cagey, bibliophile Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss. Written by James Craver

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | lawyer | rapist | rape | revenge | See All (212) »


The Bowden family has moved to New Essex. See more »


Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cabo de miedo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)


$79,100,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the original script, Leigh only met Max Cady at the end. Jessica Lange suggested the scene where they talk outside her house be added to the script, because she felt there should be a meeting between the two before the climax. See more »


Dani removes her retainer while on the phone with Cady, but it reappears and disappears again between shots before she finally puts it back in when she hangs up. See more »


[first lines]
Danielle: My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: "Cape Fear". When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Later half of the credits are played to the sound of nighttime crickets. See more »


Referenced in The Making of 'Cape Fear' (2001) See more »


Do Right Woman--Do Right Man
Written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman
Performed by Aretha Franklin
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"Counselor, Come Out! Come Out! Wherever You Are!"

Robert De Niro is one of those actors that just melts into a role. His performance as rapist, convict, and all-around not-a-very-nice fellow Max Cady is certainly one of his most memorable performances for its stamina, strength, and excessiveness. The film by Martin Scorsece is a remake of the classic film starring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck. Although Scorsece keeps the spirit of the film intact, he does make some very modern changes. He changes the role of Sam Bowden and family from one of harmony to dysfunction. No character is the epitome of a universal good, but rather flawed(very flawed) goodness. Nick Nolte does a fine job as Bowden and Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis both give deep, emotional performances. The film is really a sea of emotion...most of that emotion being fear. Scorsece adds some arty touches with the camera, but it is his gritty style that really dominates the film's impact. Scorsece also is ever the protector of film as he gives cameos to Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Martin Balsam(all in the original film). The other acting standout goes to Joe Don Baker as a hired private investigator. But make no mistake....this is De Niro's film all the way. He has some of the best lines as he harasses the Bowden family, terrorizes the Bowden family, and strips the Bowden family of all civility, pretense, and dignity. This film is definitely a keeper!

38 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Cape Fear and What about Bob? alah-qp
This movie gave me nightmares. mathteachermike
Creeps on this site re Juliette Lewis Pleasepassthemilkplease
Here are ANSWERS to questions related to the bargain/trial/plea/appeal! justchillen46
Major flaw in Max's 'logic'/grudge jimr1428
Sam Bowden biggest moron ever!! vick-b33
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