Cape Fear (1962)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Screenwriter: James R. Webb based on The Executioners by John D. MacDonald
Cast: Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas, Barrie Chase, Paul Comi, Edward Platt and Will Wright.
Tagline: Now, he had only one weapon left – Murder!…To prevent an even more shocking crime!
Max Cady (Mitchum) was recently released from prison. Cady served eight years for a sadistic rape. Now Cady has one thing on his mind, to take revenge on Sam Bowden (Peck). It was Sam Bowden who stopped Cady’s assault. It was also Bowden’s testimony that got Cady convicted.
Sam Bowden is a well respected small town lawyer. But the law is going to be of no help. Cady is smart and as devious as he is cruel. Cady stops Bowden on the street. From all appearances the meeting is cordial. But Cady lets Bowden know he’s out of prison. He subtly threatens Bowden, his wife and their young daughter.
Cady increases the threats and intimidation. Bowden realizes that Cady won’t stop until he’s done the sick things he’s threatened. There may be only one way to stop Max Cady…
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
The film covers some very dark topics for 1962. Despite censors, the movie makes it very clear what Max Cady has done and plans to do.
I like to describe Cape Fear as the best Hitchcock movie not made by Hitchcock. The score by Bernard Herrmann helps. J. Lee Thompson was an Alfred Hitchcock fan and it was his intent to film scenes like the master. Cape Fear is my favorite film directed by J. Lee Thompson.
I’m a Robert Mitchum fan. Mitchum always adds to a film’s enjoyment factor. His portrayal of Max Cady is my favorite Robert Mitchum performance. That’s saying a lot because he’s always good.
Gregory Peck was an excellent choice to play the good man who discovers that the law isn’t going to save him or his family. Peck and Mitchum are supported by an outstanding cast. Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas and Barrie Chase all get opportunities to shine. Look for Edward Platt in a cameo.
Cape Fear (1962) rates 5 of 5 stars.