7.3/10
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293 user 135 critic

Cape Fear (1991)

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2:34 | Trailer
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writers:

John D. MacDonald (novel), James R. Webb (earlier screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
920 ( 166)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Max Cady
Nick Nolte ... Sam Bowden
Jessica Lange ... Leigh Bowden
Juliette Lewis ... Danielle Bowden
Joe Don Baker ... Claude Kersek
Robert Mitchum ... Lieutenant Elgart
Gregory Peck ... Lee Heller
Martin Balsam ... Judge
Illeana Douglas ... Lori Davis
Fred Dalton Thompson ... Tom Broadbent
Zully Montero Zully Montero ... Graciella
Craig Henne Craig Henne ... Prisoner
Forest Burton Forest Burton ... Prisoner
Edgar Allan Poe IV Edgar Allan Poe IV ... Prisoner
Rod Ball ... Prisoner
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Storyline

Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte)is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver" type family-man. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) 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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cape Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

Florida, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,261,025, 17 November 1991

Gross USA:

$79,091,969

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$182,291,969
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (as Dolby Stereo SR)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 of the 1960s and early 1970s. Considered with other elements in the script, such as the lax attitude toward marijuana, this doesn't seem so out of character. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film, Sam Bowden says that he had to go to hearings before the American Bar Association as a result of his criminal actions toward Cady. But the ABA doesn't license lawyers, nor does it have the authority to disbar them. It is a lobbying group. Bowden would have had to go before the Georgia Bar Association, given that the crime occurred in that state. 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 »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER: When the movie was originally shown on network television, the blood left by Kersek's killing was optically removed by censors and replaced by a clean tile floor. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Castle: Love Me Dead (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Been Caught Stealing
Performed by Jane's Addiction
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
(plays while Danny is in her bedroom)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Released ex-con blames an advocate for his prison and schemes an insidious vendetta on his family
4 March 2012 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Gripping and extraordinary psycho-thriller with an unforgettable Robert De Niro who suffers incarceration and seeks revenge as a nasty criminal and believably creepy . This thriller has a clear reminiscent to previous remake based on John MacDonald's novel titled ¨The executioners¨ and adding riveting psychological layers . It concerns on Max Cady (Robert De Niro, also producer , role formerly performed by Robert Mitchum) a psycho ex-convict excellently played by De Niro , who released from jail after fourteen years accuses a Southern lawyer , a magnificent Nick Nolte, for his several years imprisoned and plans a malevolent vengeance ,vowing make a living hell for his wife (Jessica Lange , anterior role by Polly Bergen) and daughter (Juliette Lewis , previously performed by Lori Martin). Nolte is helped by the chief Inspector (the politician Fred Dalton Thompson , formerly interpreted by Martin Balsam) and he hires an astute detective (Joe Don Baker , role of Telly Savalas) to watch him . Meanwhile, Max Cady/De Niro plays to cat and mouse with his family which is increasingly menaced .

This exciting film with interesting screenplay by Wesley Strick contains psychological characterization , grisly triller , tense situations and is pretty entertaining , though overlong . It's brilliant , atmospheric and slickly developed , almost a masterpiece . Phenomenal and artistic main titles by Saul Bass , Hitchcock's usual . Lavishly produced by the great Steven Spielberg and Barbara De Fina , Scorsese's ordinary producer . Awesome performance from De Niro as a self-educated wacko with ominous purports , though sometimes hands the role overblown and overacting way . Major asset are the continuous suspense and marvelous acting though at the ending becomes into an unbelievable terror film . Casting is frankly awesome with exceptional performances, especially by Nolte as a wily advocate at law , Jessica Lange as suffering wife and Joe Don Baker as a tough eye-private . Brief star cameos by Gregory Peck , Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam who starred the classical version (1962) by J. Lee Thompson and screenplay by James R. Webb , still daring for his time . Musical score by Elmer Berstein based on the soundtrack composed by the master Bernard Herrmann with a similar style from Hitchcock music films . Sensational and colorful cinematography in Panavision by the excellent and veteran British cameraman Freddie Francis . The motion picture is splendidly directed by Martin Scorsese , one of the best contemporary filmmakers . It's a must see for Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte fans. The film is one of the best thrillers from the 90s in spite of being a remake . Rating : Better than average, well worth watching .


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