Cape Fear (1962)
Release Year: 1962
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Writers: James R. Webb (screenplay), John D. MacDonald (based on his 1957 novel The Executioners)
Starring: Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas, Barrie Chase, Page Slattery
Sunday Classic #265, week 29 2019
Rapist Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is released after eight years in prison and starts harassing Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) who witnessed against him.
This 60’s movie is a good example of a thriller that is still scary, gripping, and thrilling over 50 years later; a classic story of relentless cat and mouse and his family. The antagonist, Max Cady, is a real creep and to make things worse, he is also very clever. Opposite him is the talented lawyer and family man Sam Bowden, who is a strong believer in the rule of law but finds out for himself the limits of the law to protect citizens before bad things happen. The plot is excellent, moving relentlessly towards the inevitable showdown, which does not disappoint. The story is helped along even more by some great casting. Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962) is always good as a good and decent family man and authority figure, whereas Mitchum (The Night of the Hunter, 1955) steals the show as Max Cady. Mitchum is good at playing and anti-hero or outright villain and here he has his hands on a truly frightening psychopath and the result is chilling! Bergen (Cry-Baby, 1990) and Martin offer fine support as Bowden’s family, while Balsam (Psycho, 1960) is very good as the helpful police inspector. A good, classic thriller that can still send a chill down your spine and with an excellent cat and memorable score. Highly recommended!
Gregory Peck, who produced the film, had always envisioned it in black and white as he wanted to give it a Hitchcockian feel, including an eerie score and unusual camera angles.
Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam, and Robert Mitchum all appear in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake: Peck as Cady’s lawyer, Balsam as a judge, and Mitchum as a police lieutenant who suggests that Bowden use alternative means to get Cady to leave town.
Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night, 1967) wanted to play Max Cady, but backed off when he heard Robert Mitchum was offered the role.
Picture Copyright: UIP