Cape Fear

There is nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light. Except fear.

Thriller Crime
128 min     7.25     1991     USA


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? 14 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 Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss.


Eky wrote:
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.
Filipe Manuel Dias Neto wrote:
**A really very good movie, and proof that there are remakes that are really worth it for their quality and good execution.** I've just seen this movie (which I've actually seen on television, but without paying enough attention to a movie I want to write something about) and once again I was very impressed. The truth is that, without wanting to legitimize the practice, which is often taken to exaggeration, there are remakes that manage to justify themselves, not only for the quality they demonstrate, but also for the gift, not to mention, of drawing the public's attention to the older movies. I can give my personal example: it was the contact with some remakes that made me know that there were older films and go looking for them to be able to see them. This film maintains, without significant changes, the story told in the older film, which dates from 1962 and was starred by Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum: very briefly, it is the story of a lawyer who finds himself persecuted and threatened, with his wife and daughter, by a spiteful ex-con who blames him for many years of incarceration. Of course, there are things that change between the two films, and this film has the advantage of not giving us a simple story where a terribly bad man wants to harm a very nice man. Bowden, the lawyer, is a man with a past full of mistakes (much like many of us) who hasn't always been good at his job and his role as a husband and father, and we see that, and the way character is called upon to face the consequences. The sexual theme, which the original film attenuates a lot (due to the restrictions imposed on cinema at the time), is also more pronounced here, transforming Max Cady into an almost perfect pervert. In addition to the nuances that make the film denser and with a more complex story, we can count on an excellent cast where Robert De Niro steals all the attention, thanks to a powerful, convincing and genuinely menacing interpretation. This film is worth seeing just to savor the actor's performance. Nick Nolte played attorney Sam Bowden, a man who desperately seeks to protect his family. The actor is good and does a good job. Much less interesting, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis play the lawyer's wife and daughter in an ambiguous and sometimes very unpleasant way: Lange can still reasonably extricate herself from the challenge she has, but Lewis has turned her character into a kind of teenage nymphet who sees Cady as a terrifying sexual temptation rather than having the discernment and intelligence necessary to at least realize the risk her entire family is running. Also a reminder of the cameos of honor by Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, three actors who were pivotal in the original film. Incidentally, this film would end up being the last in the life of Peck, who died shortly after. Martin Scorsese made this film as a means to an end, that is, a way to get the studio to invest in another film he wanted to make. Anyway, and for whatever reason, it was a good bet by the director. The film deserves our attention and is full of merits. The filming work and cinematography are excellent, the sets and costumes too, with an emphasis, of course, on the scenes on the Bowden houseboat. The effects were also well done, although not particularly extraordinary. The central score of this film is the same as its older counterpart, composed by Bernard Herrmann, one of the best and best conceived by the composer, and which is already part of the collective memory.