This good vs. evil thriller casts Mitchum as sadistic ex-con Max Cady determined to wreak revenge on the family of Sam Bowden, the good small-town lawyer who put him in jail years earlier. Stripped of legal recourse, the c... more »ivilized Bowden is slowly forced to lower himself to Cady's bestial level to protect his family. Based on "The Executioners" by John D. MacDonald.« less
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 12/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the "Cape Fear"(1962) Widescreen DVD edition by Universal....."Cape Fear" from 1962 is a terrific example of great film noir. Filmed in black and white, director J.Lee Thompson uses shadows and light, and the art of suggestion(the censors were pretty tough back in the 60's), to bring us this bone-chilling and suspenseful classic that over fourty years later, still, has not lost it's draw. Not unlike many of Hitchcock's films, Thompson has the audience on the edge of their seats,our hearts in our throats, and in fear for the hero.It's good vs. evil, as Greogory Peck and Robert Mitchum, put their immense talents together for this spine tingler. Max Cady(Mitchum) has just been released from 8 long years in prison. From the moment we meet him, we KNOW this is one bad hombre. He is bent on revenge, and Sam Bowden(Peck) is the man who must pay. Sam's young daughter and beautiful wife are the targets of Max's obssession. He is slick and devious and will stop at nothing to get even. Sam does everything in his power legally to try and stop him, but must take matters into his own hands to protect his family.Mitchum is simply powerful in his performance of this menacing threat, and Peck as always is perfect in his portrayal of the family man whose life has just turned into one big nightmare!
The film is also helped by the wonderful talents of Telly Savalas and Martin Balsam. Polly Bergen and Lori Martin are magnificent as the terrified wife and daughter.The talent doesn't end there though, the haunting music was scored by Bernard Hermann(who worked with Hitch on several films), and Sam Leavitt does a fabulous job with the black and white cinematography.The transfer to DVD is crisp and sharp. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen(1.85:1)and barely shows it's age. The sound is in Dolby Dig 2.0 Mono. The dialouge as well as the music and background noises are all clear and distguishable.
There is a terrific featurette on the making of the film,production photos, a trailer, and DVD ROM. It may only be viewed in English, but has captions in English and subtitles in Spanish and French for those that may need them.A thriller that stands the test of time. One that esteemed Director Martin Scorsese chose to pay homage to with a wonderful remake.Get the popcorn ready and enjoy......Laurie"
"Max Cady isn't a man who makes idle threats!"
Reginald D. Garrard | Camilla, GA USA | 04/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prior to his Oscar-winning role as lawyer Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird", Gregory Peck portrayed another attorney in 1962's "Cape Fear", a psychological thriller also starring Robert Mitchum in one of his most despicable roles. No two actors were better suited than these two. Their characters are a definite study in contrast. Peck's Sam Bowden is a civilized intellectual forced to resort to some underhanded means to protect his family and himself from the treacherous taunts of Mitchum's crude, rude antagonist. Tension builds as the two men make a final confrontation at the location of the film's title. Polly Bergen and Lorie Martin as Peck's respective wife and daughter are quite good a show a strength of character rare for women in the early 60's. They are not just "screaming Mimi's". Martin Balsam, Jack Krushen and a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas round out a superlative cast; Barrie Chase is also quite memorable as a woman that runs afoul of the Mitchum's sadistic Max Cady. Southern locations and crisp cinematography provide a picturesque yet menacing background and look. To top off the film off is another remarkable score from Bernard Herrmann. Music by the late composer elevates this already superior thriller to a higher level."
Have No Fear? Get Some NOW!
Hillary | Brooklyn, New York | 09/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The late great classic acting talents of Robert Mitchum are showcased in this 1962 classic, reproving his ability to play the villain with unsurpassed expertise, as in the former 1955 classic "Night of The Hunter".
Here, Mitchum plays Max Cady, a menacing figure with a perpetual lit cigar and Panama Hat. He has come to town after being released from jail to visit and wreak revenge on the man who put him there, enter Sam, played by Gregory Peck. From their initial reunion in the town parking lot, Cady lets Peck have a peek at what's on his mind. From that moment on, there are grippingly suspenseful encounters between the two men and even worse, threats to his wife played by Polly Bergen, and his daughter, in a rather ineffectual role considering what she goes through when encountering Cady. Particularly amusing is a scene in the beginning of the film. Cady casually watches the family bowl, while harrassing a waitress and having a beer. The expression on Pecks face as his Sam character looks up, and spots those sinister leering eyes peering from a nearby table at his family, is classic.
What needs to be mentioned more than the great direction, pacing and script, is the believabilty of the sociopath depicted, that Mitchum brings to startling low-life on the screen. He is truly mesmerizing in his sleepy-eyed evil countenance. His gaze, cigar in mouth, hat pulled low, will raise your hair as you watch him. He moves toward his victims in a slow and deliberate manner, and speaks his lines with that commanding voice that he was so famous for. When picked up for questioning, he hilariously mocks Pecks' Sam, calling him casually by name, "Why, Say-im..." and then as "counselor" refering to his lawyer status. My favorite Mitchum line here?"You might want to look closer, I've got a few jolts of horse stashed under the collar." as he hands over his shirt to the police. The other great line is to Peck in a bar, as he lets him know that he can't be bought off. When speaking of his dear ex-wife, "Pumped a quart of whiskey in her, tore off her dress, threw away her shoes, and gave her a fair chance to work her way home..." Needless to say, pretty daring for it's time. You will have to find out the rest for yourself, like the scene with the drifter girl Mitchum picks up, and of course, the showdown.
Don't even think that Martin Scorcese's subsequent remake comes close to this classic. The excessively demented southern accent and preponderance of large tattoo's on DeNiro, don't make him more frightening than Mitchums' original take on the Max Cady character. Mitchum's subtle style of menacing, which seems paradoxical, but works, is far more effective at eliciting the viewers rapt attention. Besides, the Scorcese version got mired in outside subjects like infidelity from Nick Noltes version of Sam, what for? Let's face it, the original doesn't need any additional subplots to be entertaining.
"Cape Fear" is a strange title, refering to the very real location of the story, while it also serves as a perfect double entendre for the utter fright Robert Mitchum delivers within, in an unparalleled style. Don't miss this classic."
The definitive suspense film
Hillary | 07/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the "unjust Oscar snubs" file: Robert Mitchum gets no nomination for CAPE FEAR! Scandal? Robert Mitchum is Max Cady, the vengeful ex-con who stalks Gregory Peck's family in CAPE FEAR. Mitchum is superb. Absolutely, positively, superb. Never been better. Sure, he was great in OUT OF THE PAST and NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, but this is his definitive film role. The movie crackles with suspense and tension between the two leads, both of whom execute their roles brilliantly. Robert Mitchum puts one of the most terrifying and believeable performances ever on film, while Gregory Peck performs to steely perfection. I can see the Academy's not nominating Gregory Peck. not that he wasn't good, it's a five-star performance, but he wouldn't have been able to win his Oscar for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in the same year, one of his most brilliant roles. If he could have one for both, I would've been all for it. But Bob Mitchum deserved a nomination! He deserved the Oscar! But noooo... Ahh. It's a great film, anyway. Rent it and watch it over and over again. It's terrifying by today's standards, and if you fall asleep, you're just inhuman."
A Knockout Thriller, With A Dandy Bernard Herrmann Score!
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Counselor, you really stepped on it this time, didn't ya? I don't know what the Bar Association thinks about its members compounding a felony -- but I do know what the law thinks about it. You just put the law in my hands! And I'm gonna BREAK YOUR HEART WITH IT!! Ain't nothin' can stop me! You understand that, don't you?!"
The above words were spoken by a bloodied "Max Cady" in the original (1962) version of "Cape Fear", which is a suspense-filled masterpiece that remains one of my favorite movies of this genre. The film, which was known as "The Executioners" during the actual shooting of the picture (the title of the 1957 John D. MacDonald novel on which the movie was based), first appeared on American theater screens on April 12th, 1962.
That Max Cady is one scary dude! No doubt about that. Portrayed to perfection by 44-year-old Robert Mitchum, Cady is presented with full intensity in "Cape". We get the impression, and rightly so, that Mr. Cady is relentless in his pursuit of "Sam Bowden" and his family. Nothing is going to stop him. And Sam (Gregory Peck) knows this too.
Therefore, drastic measures are needed to fight this awesome menace. Watch and see how it suspensefully unfolds. Many memorable scenes await the viewer here -- scenes that look all the greater thanks to the handsome Anamorphic Widescreen print of the movie that has been encoded onto this DVD. The black-and-white photography looks solid as a rock on this disc.
As the film opens, we see a cigar-smoking Max Cady walking toward the courthouse to meet his "prey" (Bowden). Cady's self-assured gait and somewhat cocky manner, as we watch him leisurely making his way down the street, give us a good indication as to the kind of man Cady is. He leers lustfully at a couple of women who are leaving the courts building; and he shows us his self-absorbed demeanor when he walks right past a woman on a staircase who has just dropped one of the many books she is carrying (without Cady offering even a cursory glance of care or concern). These silent and subtle initial "Cady touches" in the James Webb screenplay provide the audience with a perfect "introduction" to Cady's character.
Bernard Herrmann composed the magnificent music score for the 1962 version of "Cape Fear"; and Mr. Herrmann's mood-enhancing themes greatly add to the atmosphere of the picture (as is always the case with any of his musical arrangements). Yet another stellar effort by Bernard H.
The 1991 remake of "Cape Fear" (starring Robert DeNiro) is very nearly as good as this 1962 original. The remake features additional layers to the already-competent plot that add to the enjoyment of that picture.
However, I think that the original film still outshines the remake. The combination of Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Polly Bergen provides this film with a very good trio of actors to build a picture around.
I've always liked Polly Bergen in everything I've ever seen her in -- from her always-delightful and witty appearances on TV's "To Tell The Truth" game show, to this role in "Cape Fear", to her comedy roles as well.
Gregory Peck had a good calendar year of 1962. He made "Cape Fear", plus two other big-name films that same year: "How The West Was Won" and the incomparable "To Kill A Mockingbird". Not a bad year's work for any actor.
Keep an eye peeled for some other fine supporting players dotting the cast of "Cape Fear" -- like Telly Savalas, Martin Balsam, Edward Platt, and Will Wright. For Wright, who was in literally hundreds of TV shows and feature films, "Cape Fear" would mark his last movie appearance. He died on June 19, 1962, very shortly after this movie was filmed.
This excellent "Cape" DVD presentation comes to us via Universal Studios Home Video. The Region 1 (USA) disc was first streeted by Universal on September 18th, 2001. The '91 version of the film came out on DVD the exact same day, too.
This single-sided DVD isn't a "Special Collector's Edition" by name, but some really good bonus supplements adorn the disc nevertheless, including a satisfying Making-Of program, along with the Theatrical Trailer, a Photo Gallery, DVD-ROM features, plus some Cast-&-Crew text-only information and Production Notes.
The behind-the-scenes featurette ("The Making Of Cape Fear") runs for 28 minutes. This mini-documentary contains film clips and contemporary interviews with star Gregory Peck and the film's Director, J. Lee Thompson. These interview segments with Peck and Thompson must have been recorded just shortly before both of these men passed away. Mr. Thompson died on August 30, 2002; and just ten months later we lost the great talent of Mr. Peck (on June 12, 2003 -- which was a terrible month in this regard, with several big-name Hollywood stars slipping away from us during that very same month of June 2003).
The section of the disc labelled "Production Photographs" (the Photo Gallery) is a unique DVD bonus, in that it presents the Photo Gallery in an unusual fashion, with clips from the film mixed in with the still photographs. Portions of the chilling musical score are also utilized as a backdrop to the clips and photos. This "Gallery" of pictures and movie snippets is on a timed track (lasting 4:48), and the remote-control "pause" button has not been locked out, which enables the viewer to freeze any of the images for a longer look at them. Nicely-done bonus.
Some Additional DVD Specs.....................
> Video is 1.85:1 Widescreen (enhanced for 16x9 television monitors). > Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English only). > Subtitles in English and Spanish and French. > Menus are static, silent, and simple. > Sub-Menus provided for "Scenes", "Bonus Materials", and "Languages". > Film length is a tad shy of 106 minutes. > Paper insert is included, with a Scene Index for the 18 chapters on the DVD.
"Cape Fear" (1962) should certainly keep any first-time watcher on pins and needles; and towards the end of the movie there will be no need for the bulk of your chair at all -- just the "edge" of the seat will be required. The film holds up very nicely the 23rd time it's viewed as well. A 'classic' always does."