Cape Fear (1991) Poster



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The thick accent Robert De Niro used to play Max Cady reportedly gave Martin Scorsese the creeps. As a joke, De Niro would call Scorsese's house, leaving voicemails as Cady.
Robert De Niro was tattooed with vegetable dyes, which fade after a few months.
The scene in the high school auditorium was totally ad-libbed by Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis, and done on the first take.
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 researched sexual predator crimes for the part and suggested the scene where his character bites the victim.
Robert 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%.
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.
This was Gregory Peck's final appearance in a theatrical film release before his death on June 12, 2003 at the age of 87.
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.
Robert 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.
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."
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 Scorsese to make his films.
Juliette Lewis developed a crush on Robert De Niro during the scene in the drama class.
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.
Reese Witherspoon auditioned for the role of Danielle Bowden.
The auditorium scene was originally scripted as a chase scene, but Martin Scorsese wanted it to be a seduction.
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.
Unlike Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro, Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum did not get along well with each other off screen while filming Cape Fear (1962) years prior. Notably, despite their small roles in the remake, Peck and Mitchum do not appear in any scenes together.
When Steven Spielberg was attached to direct he had plans on casting Bill Murray as Max Cady.
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.
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 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).
Robert 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.
Both Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte had to alter their physiques for the film because the 6'0", bulky, Nolte is clearly larger than the 5'9", slimmer De Niro. Nolte slimmed down, losing a good deal of weight, while shooting the film and De Niro bulked up his muscles considerably until De Niro could be seen as Nolte's physical superior. Interestingly the original Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck 6'3" at his peak) was also slightly taller than the original Max Cady (Robert Mitchum 6'1" at his peak).
The climax was filmed inside a 90-foot water-tank on a soundstage. It took four weeks to shoot.
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.
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.
Robert De Niro helped costume designer Rita Ryack choose Cady's clothing.
It took a year to convince Martin Scorsese to make this movie.
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.
In the auditorium scene between Robert De Niro and Juliette Lewis, it was De Niro's idea to put his thumb in her mouth.
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.
Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder both turned down the role of Danielle.
Robert Redford was also considered for the role of Sam Bowden.
For the first time in Martin Scorsese's career, he allowed the screenwriter, Wesley Strick, on the set during filming.
Martin Scorsese wanted the Bowdens' 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.
Filmed in 17 weeks in South Florida.
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. In Miami Vice: The Cell Within (1989), Tubbs is tormented and imprisoned by the author Jake Manning, an ex-con he helped convict years before.
Robert De Niro and Illeana Douglas's scenes were improvised.
Gregory Peck completed filming his cameo scenes in one day.
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.
This is the first film that Martin Scorsese uses optical FX.
Martin Scorsese directed the film as part of a two picture deal with Universal Studio because of their help and support with the release of The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). The other picture in the deal was Casino (1995).
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").
Nicole Kidman lobbied for the role of Danielle, but Martin Scorsese wanted a younger actress.
The script went through 24 drafts.
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.
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).
Diane Keaton met with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro to discuss playing the role of Leigh Bowman, but didn't win the part.
The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange, Martin Balsam, Gregory Peck; and three Oscar nominees: Nick Nolte, Robert Mitchum and Juliette Lewis.
This was Amblin Entertainment's first "R" rated film.
Former wrestler Dan Spivey's short-lived 1995 WWE gimmick Waylon Mercy was based on Max Cady. Windham Rotunda's WWE gimmick Bray Wyatt has elements of Waylon Mercy and thus is influenced by Max Cady by default.
This was the first film Martin Scorsese shot in the wider 2.39:1 aspect ratio, as opposed to the smaller 1.85:1 ratio in which he had filmed all his previous works (excluding New York, New York (1977), which was shot in 1.66:1).
The music that is heard at the climax of the movie was a piece of music that Bernard Herrmann had written for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966), but that piece of music was never used. Elmer Bernstein had always liked that original score and he asked Martin Scorsese if it could be used in the film.
The music video that Danielle watches to avoid her parents' argument is Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing."
Brad Dourif was considered to play Max Cady.
Sarah Jessica Parker was originally cast as Danielle.
Martin Scorsese had also wanted Telly Savalas to return from the original cast.
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This was Martin Scorsese's first picture to be shot in 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio.
There is an iconic shooting star scene; an apparent nod to Steven Spielberg.
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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.
David Johansen was considered for the role of Max Cady.
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Jessica Lange accepted her role to work with Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
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Nicole Eggert auditioned for the role of Danielle but turned it down.
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When Max Cady tells Bowden to "check out the Bible, Councilor, the Book between Esther and Psalms," he's referring to the Book of Job. This is its placement in the Christian Bible. In the original Hebrew Bible, the Book of Job is in between Proverbs and Song of Songs, the latter being the first of the Five Megillot (Scrolls).
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Another music video shown on Danielle's TV is The Bog, of the band Bigod 20.
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The film was released two days before Martin Scorsese's 49th birthday.
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Lori Davis (Illeana Douglas) was named after Lori Martin, who played Nancy Bowden in Cape Fear (1962).
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A picture of James Dean is shown when Danielle (Juliette Lewis) slams the door while her parents argue.
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The note that is broken on Nick Nolte's grand piano is an A two octaves above middle C.
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The opening of the movie is very similar to the opening of Hitchcock's "Vertigo" both visually (the red/black fade of female face) and musically (Elmer Bernstein emulating Bernard Hermann's original score).
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Sam Bowden and Max Cady are the only characters to retain the same names from Cape Fear (1962).
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Director Trademark 

Martin Scorsese: [mother] fruit stand customer.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

When Cady strangles Kersek with the piano wire, Steven Spielberg suggested he be dressed up as the housekeeper while doing it.
Robert De Niro would only get under the Bowdens' car if a stuntman could prove it could be done.
During Cady's death scene, he seems to be talking gibberish. He's actually speaking in tongues, elated at the fact that he thinks he's ascending to Heaven.
Body count: 5 (including the dog).

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