Cape Fear (1991) Poster



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Robert De Niro's thick Max Cady accent reportedly gave Scorsese the creeps, and as a joke, De Niro would call the director's house, leaving messages as Cady.
The scene in the high school auditorium was totally ad-libbed by Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis, and done on the first take.
Director Martin Scorsese's first choice for the role of Bowden was Harrison Ford. He had Robert De Niro call Ford to try convincing him to take the part.
De Niro did a lot of working out several months before the movie and during the shoot to make him the muscular Max Cady, reportedly taking his body fat down to only 3%.
Juliette Lewis developed a crush on Robert De Niro during the scene in the drama class.
De Niro was tattooed with vegetable dyes, which fade after a few months.
When Steven Spielberg was attached to direct he had plans on casting Bill Murray as Max Cady.
De Niro's Cady accent came from an earlier role where he played a southerner. To prepare for the role, De Niro took excerpts of the script and a tape recorder into southern towns and would ask locals to read the lines into the tape.
Robert De Niro would only get under the Bowden's car if a stuntman could prove it could be done.
De Niro researched sexual predator crimes for the part and suggested the scene where his character bites the victim.
Gregory Peck, who starred in Cape Fear (1962), appears as Cady's lawyer. Robert Mitchum played Max Cady in the 1962 version, and appears as Lieutenant Elgart. Martin Balsam played Mark Dutton in the 1962 version and the judge in this version.
The auditorium scene was originally scripted as a chase scene, but Scorsese wanted it to be a seduction.
This was Gregory Peck's final appearance in a theatrical film release.
Both Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte had to alter their physiques for the film because the 6'1", bulky, Nolte is clearly larger than the 5'10", slimmer De Niro. Nolte lost a good deal of weight while shooting the film and De Niro bulked up his muscles considerably until De Niro was clearly Nolte's physical superior. Interestingly the original Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) was also slightly taller than the original Max Cady (Robert Mitchum).
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.
Robert De Niro paid a dentist $5,000 to make his teeth look suitably bad for the role of Max Cady. After filming, he paid $20,000 to have them fixed.
Steven Spielberg was originally set to direct. He later recommended Martin Scorsese for the job and personally called the director, letting him know that this was a commercial film that had potential to be a hit, which would exercise more power for Scorcese to make his films.
Reese Witherspoon auditioned for the role of Danielle Bowden.
During the opening sequence Max Cady is seen working out in his cell and the camera pans over his jail time reading material. One of the books featured is The Cell Within by Jake Manning. This is not a published work and only exists as part of a Miami Vice (1984) storyline "The Cell Within" (season 5, episode 13) in which Tubbs is tormented and imprisoned by the author Jake Manning, an ex-con he helped convict years before.
For the first time in Scorsese's career, he allowed the screenwriter, Wesley Strick, on the set during filming.
It took a year to convince Martin Scorsese to make this movie.
Drew Barrymore tested for the role of Danielle Bowden but failed the audition. She later said she had "acted all over the place and it was just the biggest disaster of my life".
Tiffani Thiessen was offered the role of Danielle, but turned down the choice to play the part, in order to stay with Saved by the Bell (1989).
The scene between Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis in the school was shot in three takes, but the first one was used in final productions.
Alyssa Milano was offered the role of Danielle but had to turn down the role, due to pressure from fellow Who's the Boss? (1984) cast member Tony Danza.
Martin Scorsese wanted the Bowden's house surrounded by oak trees, covered by hanging tufts of Spanish moss. He wanted it so it looked like a sunny oasis by day, and isolating by night. Therefore, it would make a perfect dark cover for Cady.
The climactic scene out in the swamp was filmed in John U. Lloyd State Park, in the middle of a mangrove swamp. A tropical depression set over the set for four days, so the film crew had to wait for the storm to stop, so that they could make their own rain.
The scene where Robert De Niro sits on the brick wall, he actually sits in front of a blue screen where the fireworks were added later in production.
George C. Scott was originally supposed to play the Lieutenant role. But because of health problems he dropped out a few days before filming and Robert Mitchum was brought in.
The score by Elmer Bernstein is not only an arrangement of Bernard Herrmann's original Cape Fear (1962) score, but also includes parts of Herrmann's unused score for Torn Curtain (1966).
De Niro played scenes with Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates in the Sam and Danielle roles for Martin Scorsese when De Niro was trying to interest him in directing the film.
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.
Amblin Entertainment's first "R" rated motion picture.
Robert Mitchum feared in comparing his character of Max Cady to Robert De Niro's portrayal in the film. He had never seen either movies.
Robert De Niro helped costume designer Rita Ryack chose Cady's clothing.
The script went through 24 drafts.
Christina Applegate did an audition for the role of Danielle, but had to turn down the part due to conflicts from Married with Children (1987) producer Ron Leavitt.
Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder both turned down the role of Danielle.
Robert De Niro and Illeana Douglas's scenes were improvised.
Filmed in 17 weeks in South Florida.
The climax was filmed inside a 90-foot water-tank on a soundstage. It took four weeks to shoot.
Originally in the scene where Cady puts handcuffs on Lori, she was supposed to start freaking out, Illeana Douglas was the one who came up with the idea of having her character laughing and trying to play along instead.
Gregory Peck completed filming his cameo scenes in one day.
Robert Redford was also considered for the role of Sam Bowden.
This is the first film that Martin Scorsese uses optical FX.
Illeana Douglas based her performance as Lori Davis on Jennifer Levin, who was murdered in 1986 in Central Park by Robert Chambers (whom the press dubbed the "Preppy Murderer").
The ice cream parlor scene was shot in the first week of production where the owners complained for the first three days that they were losing business.
Sarah Jessica Parker was originally cast as Danielle.
The music video Danielle watches to avoid her parent's argument is Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing."
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.
Brad Dourif was considered to play Max Cady.
Robert Richardson auditioned for the position of cinematographer but lost out to Britain's Freddie Francis. Martin Scorsese, a staunch admirer of Richardson's work with his former NYU student Oliver Stone, remembered Richardson when he was preparing to direct Casino (1995).
This was Scorsese's first picture to be shot in 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio.
Nicole Eggert auditioned for the role of Danielle but turned it down.
David Johansen was considered for the role of Max Cady.
A picture of James Dean is shown when Danielle (Juliette Lewis) slams the door while her parents argue.
The note that is broken on Nick Nolte's grand piano is an A two octaves above middle C.
Another music video shown on Danielle's TV is The Bog, of the band Bigod 20.

Director Trademark 

Martin Scorsese:  [mother]  fruit stand customer.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

During Cady's death scene, he seems to be talking gibberish. But he's actually speaking in tongues, so elated at the fact that he thinks he's ascending to Heaven.
When Cady strangles Kersek with the piano wire, Steven Spielberg suggested he be dressed up as the housekeeper while doing it.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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