Cape Fear Reviews
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
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.
I found myself using fast fwd often.
Sadly did not enjoy this tho I looked fwd to it.
2.5 out of 5