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Cape Fear (1991)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 105,768 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 248 user | 92 critic | 9 from Metacritic.com

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

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(novel), (earlier screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear (1991) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Sam Bowden is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver"-esque family-man. Max Cady is a tattooed, cigar-smoking, bible-quoting, psychotic 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 more »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 November 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cabo de miedo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$79,100,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Martin Scorsese read the original script three times while making Goodfellas (1990) and hated it each time because of how the Bowdens were a happy family and wanted them to be miserable. See more »

Goofs

Before retiring for the night, the Bowden family and investigator Kersek securely close and lock all the doors and windows in the Bowden home. Yet a short while later, the wind blows one of the doors open. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Spoofed in The Simpsons: Cape Feare (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Not Scorcese's best, but pretty good!
12 September 2000 | by (London, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Martin Scorcese's filmography as director is one of the most accomplished in modern film history. While Cape Fear can't even hold a candle next to "Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas", it is still a fabulous remake of the 1962 noir classic and it keeps the viewer on the edge right through until the closing credits.

Robert De Niro (in yet another brilliant teaming with Scorcese behind the camera) plays Max Cady, a psychopathic rapist who was sent to jail 14 years earlier for such crimes. He leaves prison with vengeance. Not for his victims or his prosecutor, but his defence councillor, Sam J. Bowden, played by Nick Nolte. It seems Bowden did not defend Cady to the best of his ability. Cady knows this and wants some payback.

Cady's initial return into Bowden's life could not have come at a worse time. Bowden has been forced to move his family to Florida after his infidelities threatened his marriage and career. His wife is distrustful and worst of all, Bowden is on the verge of beginning another affair with a female workmate. Added to that, his daughter is at the difficult age of 15.

Almost by ozmosis, Cady understands these problems in the Bowden household and acts on them. He begins terrorising Bowden and his whole family, taking it from one extreme to the next.

What makes Cape Fear such a good film is the rapidly increasing sense of claustrophobia. Scorcese makes a point of using almost only close up shots towards the end of the film. It is a great touch that makes the viewer that much more scared as the film goes on.

Along with that, Robert De Niro is superb as Cady. Only occasionally does the role slip into parody. Mostly he is expertly evil.

Nick Nolte is good if not great, the same for Jessica Lange as Leigh Bowden. It seems as if they were void of any great lines in this film, which is unfortunate given their immense talent. Julliette Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the young daughter, Danielle. She slips effortlessly between curious sexual awakenings, rebellious teen and straight thinking woman. Add in small roles for Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck (the leads of the 1962 version) and you have a great ensemble cast.

So not the best Scorcese film ever, but some tight editing, great camerawork, a haunting theme and devilishly over-the-top acting help make this a frighteningly fun movie to watch. Strongly recommended.


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Message Boards

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Cape Fear and What about Bob? alah-qp
Sam Bowden biggest moron ever!! vick-b33
Creeps on this site re Juliette Lewis Pleasepassthemilkplease
Major flaw in Max's 'logic'/grudge jimr1428
What other actors would've been good as Max Cady? cadeis-1
Why did Sam bury the report? E-JonssonQ
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