Cape Fear - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cape Fear Reviews

Page 1 of 33
October 8, 2017
Mitchum and Peck team up in Thompson's relentlessly effective noir. Shot in a beautiful black and white, it's a duel between good and evil, a duel were law is in a deadlock, a nerve-fraying flick starring an eloquent and magnetic cast in its two opposed main characters, the terrifyingly clever Cady and the harrowed, trapped Bowden. Moreover,'Cape Fear' has an elegant camerawork, a tight construction which is elevated by Herrmann's soundtrack. 'Cape Fear' will keep you on the edge of your seat, and makes me curious about the Scorsese-De Niro version.
August 26, 2017
Watching this 1962 B&W original in the majestic Castro Theatre in San Francisco for the first time, I got to see why Martin Scorcese saw the potential for a remake. The original's impact has softened with time and with two big stars such as Gregory Peck and Robert Mitcham attached, either didn't or couldn't fully embrace its script's B-movie campness. Peck looks a bit stiff and is restricted by his (straight guy) role and I am pretty ambivalent about the daughter character (Lori Martin) who oscillates between dumb horror film victim and smart cookie according to narrative needs but just feels odd to me in the end. However it is the often topless Mitcham who gives the film the intensity, not to mention a sexy menace, in his portrayal of Max Cady. Also, for me, the finale doesnt really add up but all the elements for a great suspense thriller are present here and ready for the update in 1991. Judged on the standards of its time, this would have been an easy ??? 1/2 back when an implication of violence and violation is enough to put the shivers up the audience's back but I feel that a downgrade is justified here to reflect how the film has dated since then.
March 28, 2017
Classic and far superior to the remake. Of course it is a matter of taste and cultural education. The Scorsese version (not surprisingly) leaves little to the imagination (the scariest part of a good scare) and descends into nauseating graphic violence. This original features Mitchum in top form and has far more class and an atmosphere of terror that is unmatched.
December 21, 2016
Terrifically fun pulp thriller about ex-con Max Cady, Robert Mitchum, newly released from prison and looking to menace the family of the man who put him away, Gregory Peck. For a mainstream film made in 1962, it's a pretty rough picture. My kids came into the room while I was watching it and I decided I'd better turn it off. The scene where Mitchum picks up a girl at a bar, takes her home and assaults her (it's insinuated he'd raped her). Rape also plays into the story when Mitchum insinuates to Peck that he's going to rape Peck's wife and daughter, saying he has "plans" for them after earlier creepily describing Peck's young daughter as "juicy." Mitchum is an absolute creep in this film and is perfectly cast as the very menacing Cady. Peck is also fine as the father and husband trying to protect his family. The film is tightly directed by J. Lee Thompson, who gives the film some very tough action sequences (the finale in the swamps is a real classic). Thompson apparently wanted to originally cast Haley Mills as the daughter, but she was under contract with Disney at the time and wasn't available. That would have been pretty subversive to have a film where the story involved Robert Mitchum planning to assault Pollyanna. Another major highlight of this film is the excellent score by composer Bernard Herrmann, which was re-use in the Martin Scorsese remake. The only knock I have on this film is that there is not a lot of depth to it. Peck does have some moral and ethical dilemmas he's dealing with, but they're more a function of plot than a serious character examination. That's where Scorsese's remake improved over the original, but this film should not be dismissed. It's a tight thriller that's well acted and well crafted, and is probably just short of being a classic. Polly Bergen, Martin Balsam, Telly Savalas, and Edward Platt also appear in the film.
July 7, 2016
A classic suspense film that holds up well today. It's a tense thriller with Robert Mitchum perfectly cast as the villain. (First and only viewing - 3/9/2010)
½ April 23, 2016
This will be a comparison review of both the 1962 version and the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake.

I'm going to break this review down in a couple of parts, reviewing/comparing both versions in some basic catagories, like story, characters, performances, editing, music, and cinematography.


Both movies have a very similar story: (as expected with a remake) A convicted criminal, released from prison after serving a sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who was involved in the case. Only with the 1962 version Max Cady is a criminal who was put in jail for assault, and in the 1991 version Cady is a rapist. The sentence Cady serves in the 1962 version was 8 years, and 14 years in the 1991 version. (i dont know why this was altered. Also, quite a major plot point that was changed is that in the 1962 version Bowden testified against Cady as a witness to put him behind bars, and in the 1991 version Bowden was the one who defended Cady but failed. I personally think how it is done in the 1991 version is better, because that adds another level of psychotic behavior to Cady (because why would you go after someone who tried to defend your case, it's a bit more psychotic), however in the 1962 version it's more realistic. Talking about realism, the 1962 version is overall much more probable than the 1991 version, but because it's a bit unrealistic the 1991 version is more terrifying, Cady is almost a superhero in the 1991 version. (Which could be a con for some, but for me, it's a pro). The 1962 version is more realistic because it explains almost every action Cady does, and puts sense behind his action. (which deletes the element of surprise)Also, the 1991 version has a lot of added scenes that aren't in the original, which could be bad, but most of the scenes that were added, are some of my favorite scenes from the remake, which was a shame they were nowhere to be found in the original.(Like the relationship sequences between Cady and Bowden's daughter, Cady dressing up as their maid, and the planned assault on Cady by Bowden, which was an incredibly smart (what came after it by Cady) and thrilling sequence in the remake) The first act is pretty much the same, both version set up the characters properly, and the scenes are very similar. The second act is very different with added and deleted scenes, and the final act of the remake is much longer and much more climactic than the remake, in the original it's only a brief sequence, but in the remake it's a bit longer, and Cady does a lot more terrifying and psychotic things than in the original.


In the 1991 version Max Cady looks alot more menacing. He's psychically ripped, he has tattoos, his hair is combed slick. In the 1962 version he just looks like a normal dude. The motives of Cady is slightly different in both versions. In the 1962 version Bowden testified against Cady as a witness to put him behind bars, and in the 1991 version Bowden was the one who defended Cady but failed. So the motives are a little different, but doesnt make either version better, both are pretty much the same and both are great. In the 1991 version Cady does a lot more terrifying acts, in the original Cady is just a stalker and does barely anything except being in close proximity of the Bowden family, but in the remake Cady is a lot more active in harassing the family. (Both version include Cady killing the Bowden family's dog).
Sam Bowden is character wise, pretty much the same in either version, the performances differ, but the character is the same. The main character differences are Sam's wife and daughter. In the remake both have a much bigger role (which is a good thing)
The wife is more actively involved in the story than just being there to scream and be scared.
The daughter has a short relationship with Cady in the middle of the film (wich adds creepiness) and she also is more actively involved with the story.


Max Cady is much more terrifying in the 1991 version, beautifully portrayed by Robert De Niro, but he is almost overacting how intense Cady is in this version. But man, just his accent alone. DeNiro truly shows another side of himself as Cady. He is so incredibly terrifying, but that's also because Cady in the 1991 version does alot more things and is much more active than in the 1962 version. However, Mitchum ALSO portrays Cady beautifully, in a more realistic way. Mitchum portrays him like Cady is just a normal dude who wants to fuck with the guy who testified against him. Both portray Cady fantastically, but since the movie is about a character who is supposed to be terrifying, i have to go with De Niro's performance.
Sam Bowden, i was quite disappointed with Gregory Peck's performance. he is such a great actor (To Kill A Mockingbird!) but in this version he only has one emotion, he is constantly frowning and his face doesnt show any other emotion throughout the film. However, Nick Nolte gives a fantastic performance in Scorsese's version showing a range of emotions and state of mind.
Sam's wife, since in the remake Sam's wife has a much bigger role, and isnt screaming constantly, i have to go with Jessica Lange's performance. She is great, and much more involved.
Sam's Daughter, despite being much more involved in the remake, i have to go with Lori Martin's performance, simply because Lewis's is so incredibly annoying in the remake, i cant stand her character.


The original is quite slow, and that's mainly because of the laid-back editing style, and the amount of pointless scenes. (not that many, but a couple).
The remake is a much more slick, fast paced, well-rounded and entertaining version of this fantastic story.


The remake has quite an unmemorable score, and the original however features yet another fantastic score by Bernard Hermann (Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, Psycho). The score is so fantastic, that most scares are because of the score and not because of what's happening on screen. That's a pro score-wise, but a con-story wise.


The original is shot like any other movie from the 60's, nothing really special. The remake however has such a vivid, lavish visual style (As expected with a movie directed by Scorsese) that is impossible not to like. The cinematography is impeccable too.


Writing: it's up to what you like, the original is much more realistic, but the remake is much more entertaining and interesting. Personally i have to go with the remake
Characters: Again, it's whatever you like, in the original the characters are more realistic and bit more fleshed-out, but in the remake the characters are more interesting and intense/terrifying (Cady) Personally i have to go with the remake
Performances: Despite great in both version, Peck's performance not being that great, i have to go with the remake.
Editing: Remake without a doubt. It's much more fast-paced and entertaining. It also decided to leave out some of the pointless scenes the original has.
Score: the original without a doubt. Hermann's score is absolutely fantastic.
Cinematography: The remake has such vivid visual style, it's impossible not to love.


I dont say this often, but i thought the remake was much better. (I know i'm in the minority, i just didnt have many problems witht the remake, and i did have some with the original)
De Niro's performance was just incredible, despite being over the top, the movie was much more compact and fast paced, which resulted in making it an incredibly entertaining film, that's also great.

Cape Fear (1962): 3.5/5
Cape Fear (1991): 4.5/5
April 13, 2016
A highlight in the suspense genre. Film noir at heart but plays into the thriller genre in such a suspenseful way for this time. Robert Mitchum is amazing in it and it's an inspiration to chase/thriller films today.
April 11, 2016
Fantastic film noir. Mitchum is so charismatically sleazy, and Peck gives his usual powerful performance.
½ March 14, 2016
This 1962 chiller consistently outshines Martin Scorsese's remake. Robert Mitchum gives one of his most unsettling performances as psychopathic Max Cady.
January 21, 2016
This 1962 Thriller, See's Gregory Peck & Robert Mitchum Are At War In A Dangerous Game Of Cat & Mouse, In What Is Often Called, The Original Masterpiece Of Revenge, Confrontation & Murder.
Both Peck & Mitchum Are On Top Form Giving Some Of The Best Performances From Both Of Their Respective Carrers. Peck Is Our Brave Hero, A Simple Family Man Who Works Hard, While Mitchum Plays Our Villain, A Convicted Rapeist Who Has Just Finished Serveing His Time.
The Film However Is Extremely Believable As Mitchum Stalks Peck's Family, But Does Everything Inside The Law, So Peck Can't Touch Him. That Is However Until The Showdown At The Titular Place Itself. The Film's Atmosphere Builds Up From The Start & Unleahes It At Full Force For The Final Confrontation, This Slow Build Up Racks Up The Suspense Keeps It's Viewer Interested. It's Not Just J. Lee Thompson's Directorial Skills, But Bernard Herrmann's Excellent Musical Score & If You Ask Me One Of His Best Soundtracks Written. Thompson Was A Hitchcock Fan, He Wanted To Have Hitchcockian Elements In The Film, Such As Unusual Lighting Angles, An Eerie Musical Score, Closeups & Subtle Hints Rather Than Graphic Depictions Of The Violence Cady (Mitchum) Has In Mind For The Family.
These Hitchcockian Elements Are Pulled Of With Great Skill, Although Not As Well As The Master Of Suspense Himself, This Is A Great Psychological Thriller, That Offers Great Suspense An Eerie Musical Score By Bernard Herrmann & Fantastic Performances That Makes This A True Classic & An Enjoyable Movie.
August 2, 2015
Just Great!! The perfect cast, and Mitchum is so frightening its scary. Never a dull moment the film slowly creeps into a nightmare, beautifully shot and so atmospheric.
May 4, 2015
Most of the thrills are steeped in the male gaze, and inevitably one-sided portraits of violence against women. At the same time, the score and Robert Mitchum's performance make it impossible to look away. Mitchum is terrifying and memorable as Max Cady.
December 3, 2014
Wanted to see the original and was not disappointed! Amazing performances and direction make this a tense thriller worth seeing!
November 23, 2014
***Due to the recent RT changes that have basically ruined my past reviews, I am mostly only giving a rating rather than a full review.***
November 14, 2014
Classic drama from a classic pair of actors. Mitchum is the loathsome Max Cady out to ruin and kill a lawyer who put him in prison 8 years earlier. Quality music score as well.
½ November 3, 2014
No classics should be remade but I'm going to make this an exception where Martin Scorsese' updated version was much more stylish and effective. The only two things that make the 1962 version of Cape Fear such an excitement is Gregory Peck and Bernard Herrmann's score.
½ August 31, 2014
Absolutely terrifying. Keeps you on the edge of your seat thanks to a tight script and great performances. Better than the remake by far
August 9, 2014
Wow! The original version is cool, and Telly Savalas has hair!
½ July 16, 2014
No suspense, slow and obvious, It lost something over time - I need to see the remake maybe. Everything was so calculated and deliberate that it now is all cliche.
I found myself using fast fwd often.
Sadly did not enjoy this tho I looked fwd to it.
2.5 out of 5
June 30, 2014
The real question is: Would I recommend it? Maybe.
Page 1 of 33