Sam Bowden is a small-town corporate attorney. Max Cady is a tattooed, cigar-smoking, bible-quoting, psychotic rapist. What do they have in common? Fourteen years ago, Sam was a public defender assigned to Max Cady's rape trial, and he made a serious error: he hid a document from his illiterate client that could have gotten him acquitted. Now, the cagey, bibliophile Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss.
Meet Max Cady, the most terrific villain role De Niro ever played simply because he successfully portrayed a crook who possesses a very complex personality of being stone-cold, violent, absolutely merciless, also on the other hand quite witty and charismatic to ever lure Danielle Bowden (Juliette Lewis) into his trap when he pretended to be her drama teacher so convincingly. Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear tells the story of a brutal rapist who waited for so long just to be able to avenge his wrath towards Attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) for he believed that Bowden could have done much better in defending for his case. This film is well-told with so many suspense elements through some shocking events throughout the film. Cape Fear is one of the examples of film whose remake, in some ways, considered outwits the original one produced in 1962 starred Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck. This is quite understandable remembering the remake was filmed many years later, with sufficient advancements in technology and financial supports. In Cape Fear, De Niro managed to portray the chilling Max Cady successfully. He had a best-laid plan to avenge his disappointments/hatred towards Bowden by studying laws in prison just to be able to find the flaws that in the end shall leave him untouchable by the law. Sometimes it’s amazing to understand how an actor/actress willing to go through for the sake of a role. Robert De Niro paid a dentist $5,000 to make his teeth look suitably bad for the role of Max Cady whereas right after filming, he paid $20,000 to have them fixed. De Niro migh have been spectacular in portraying Cady but we also have to consider how remarkable and superb were Peck and Mitchum.