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Cape Fear (1991)

R  |   |  Crime, Thriller  |  15 November 1991 (USA)
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 118,417 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?


Lori, talking with Max, says, "Now weren't I the bozo on this bus!" - a reference to the 1971 album by The Firesign Theatre called "I Think We're All Bozos on this Bus". A reference like this may seem against period, but Martin Scorsese, like the Firesign Theatre players, was part of the counter-culture scene of the '60s and early '70s. Considered with other elements in the script, such as the lax attitude toward marijuana, this doesn't seem so out of character. See more »


When Cady is kissing Danielle, he leans to the right. When the camera switches, showing the back of Danielle's head, now Cady is leaning to the left. This sequence happens again when the camera switches back to its original angle. 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 »


Featured in The 64th Annual Academy Awards (1992) 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

Seeking Retribution
29 April 2003 | by (Sparta, IL) – See all my reviews

Robert De Niro plays Max Cady, an illiterate criminal who has been imprisoned for fourteen years on rape and battery charges. Nick Nolte plays Sam Bowden, Cady's lawyer who intentionally buried a valuable document, which may have allowed Cady's prison sentence to be significantly shorter. Cady learns to read while in prison. He starts with 'See Spot Run,' then proceeds to study law books. Cady's rage and desire for revenge grows with each additional day that he is in prison. Although Cady's original prison sentence was only eight years, it is increased to fourteen years due to battery of another inmate. He memorizes the Bible and tattoos his body with scripture referring to vengeance. When Cady is finally released from prison, he immediately seeks out Bowden and his family. Cady has become a scripture slinging psychopath hell bent on revenge. The director Martin Scorsese is attempting to prove that everyone has skeletons in their closet. Bowden might appear to be a terrific lawyer and loving family man on the surface, but underneath the perfect image lies a cheating husband and corrupt lawyer. Scorsese also shows how powerful the emotion of revenge can be and how it can distort ones version of what is right and wrong. Scorsese demonstrates this by showing Cady's knowledge of scripture and his acceptance of the terror that he is inflicting on the Bowden family. Scorsese's use of cameo appearances by Robert Mithcum and Gregory Peck was brilliant. The fact that they played such opposite roles in the original film was an interesting twist. I enjoyed the original 1962 version more than this remake, but I feel that the blood being in color definitely added to the terror that this film inflicts.

28 of 43 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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