Cape Fear (1962)
After an eight-year prison term for rape and assault, Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is set free. Immediately making a beeline to Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the former prosecutor responsible for Cady's conviction, Cady laconically informs Sam that he intends to "pay back" the attorney for his years behind bars. Conducting a meticulous campaign of terror, Cady is careful to stay within the law. Sam, realizing that Cady intends to wreak vengeance by raping the attorney's wife (Polly Bergen) and daughter (Lori Martin), tries to put the ex-criminal behind bars, but has no grounds to do so. Chief Dutton (Martin Balsam) tries to help Sam with a few strong-arm tactics, but succeeds only in having the courts take Cady's side in the matter. Things come to a head when Sam moves his family to the "safety" of a remote houseboat on Cape Fear river. Cady shows up unannounced and is about to ravage Bowden's wife and daughter and when Sam turns the tables. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
Related News & Features
Box Office Wrapup: Leo and Matt Face Off at #1 with The Departed
– Rotten Tomatoes
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Cape Fear
Its politics are abhorrent to me, but my god, it's such a slick, well-crafted thriller ... that I can't hate it
A tense thriller that holds your attention to the very end. The film is aided by one of Bernard Hermann's better scores.
Tedious remake of a "thriller" that wasn't that thrilling to begin with
The remake with De Niro had the most to fear from this superior little thriller!
A classic revenge thriller.
works best as a twisted nail-biter, punctuated brilliantly with an apocalyptic score by Bernard Herrmann
Audience Reviews for Cape Fear
A lawyer finds his family terrorized by a brutal woman hating sociopath who blames him for sending him to jail for 8 years. Gregory Peck was the perfect casting choice as the morally upstanding husband and father who finds he must question his principles when the law fails to protect them from such a wily and dangerous predator. But it is Mitchum on top form who steals the film and brings a real sense of underlying menace to his character; the scenes he shares with Peck crackle with tension. There's also some strong support from the ever reliable Martin Balsam and Telly Savalas (sporting a full head of hair!) and the family scenes are refreshingly syrup free. With a very memorable score and great showdown featuring a classic closing speech, this is far better than the uncharacteristically crass Martin Scorsese remake.More
It's not what he does ... it's what he may do. Mitchum gives elegance to one of the screen's worst creepy bad guys, conveying evil with his eyes, along with the screaming realization that he's gonna enjoy doing it. The battle between the forces of good versus the other has seldom been more clearly delineated.More
Cape Fear is a classic noir that really achieves its intentions. J. Lee Thompson is a director I'm ashamed to say I'm still fairly unfamiliar with although the few films of his I have seen I have loved. It is obvious here that he has mastered the art of light and shadow, the film is beautiful throughout and the night scenes are some of the best I've seen before and since. The acting by the two leads is faultless, both are brilliantly cast and effortlessly compelling. Unforgettable and miles ahead of its peers, no wonder Scorsese admired it but remaking it was a brave move!More
Cape Fear Quotes
- Sam Bowden:
- It's a mistake to teach women how to tell time. They always use it against you.
- Sam Bowden:
- You shocking degenerate. I've seen the worst - the dregs - but you... you are the lowest. Makes me sick to breathe the same air.
- Max Cady:
- I got somethin' planned for your wife and kid that they ain't nevah gonna forget. They ain't nevah gonna forget it... and neither will you, Counselor!
Discuss Cape Fear on our Movie forum!