Movies that are slightly off.
Now he had only one weapon left - murder! ...To prevent an even more shocking crime!
Sam Bowden, witnesses a rape committed by Max Cady and testifies against him. When released after 8 years in prison, Cady stalks Bowden and his family but is always clever enough not to violate the law. Bowden enlists the aid of a local police chief, a private detective and then hires thugs to harass Cady all to no avail. The film climaxes pitting Bowden and his family against Cady.
Move over, Anton Chigurh. Sit back down, Hannibal Lector. Step aside, Harry Powell. Max Cady has come to town, and he thinks you're all a bunch of pansies.
It's one thing to put on a performance that overshadows all other aspects of an otherwise good film. It's another to put on one that pulls the rest of a good film into greatness. Robert Mitchum, whom I have ashamedly not experienced much of, gives such a show here in Cape Fear. Yes, the score by Bernard Herrmann, ominous and accentuating rather than intrusive, didn't need much help. And yes, Gregory Peck et. al. do just fine on their own (especially so for Polly Bergen as his wife and Barrie Chase as…
Robert Mitchum's turn as Max Cady created one of cinema's greatest bad guys, a man with no limits who imposes his will onto an adversary who doesn't even know he is one until he's already on the back foot. This is his most depraved character, prepared to go even further than the Reverend Harry Powell, a man who only answers to himself.
He disappears completely into the skin of Cady leering at the world around him through his poisonous eyes. Eight years in prison allows a man the opportunity to learn the virtue of patience and he uses it as his most potent weapon against Sam Bowden and his family. He appears at his most menacing not when he is…
Performances : 8.1/10
Story : 8.8/10
Production : 8.5/10
Overall : 8.47/10
It must be said that Robert Mitchum was clearly one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen. Conversely, Gregory Peck may very well be one of the worst. That's all opinion obviously, but I've seen three Peck films this month and he was below average in all of them. I've given up on him. Luckily Mitchum more than made up for any of the other cast members faults. He plays Max Cady, this horrible sick fuck of a human being and he plays him flawlessly. This was easily one of the best performances I've ever seen and it's such a shame the rest of the…
I got somethin' planned for your wife and kid that they ain't nevah gonna forget. They ain't nevah gonna forget it... and neither will you, Counselor! Nevah!
Martin Scorsese is my favorite director without question. Has been for years. I'm one of those people that when the trailer for Hugo came out, I would look at anyone that said it didn't look good as if they were an idiot and say "Of course it's going to be good, it's Scorsese for Christ's sake!". So it'll come as no surprise that I've seen his remake of Cape Fear too many times to count and think that Robert De Niro's portrayal of Max Cady is one of his all time…
SOME MILD SPOILERS
Now don't get me wrong. I like Martin Scorsese.
But this is one of those occasions where I'm particularly glad that I've not seen the remake. It's not because I'm concerned that it will be crap or anything or because I have anything against remakes. I'm not and I don't.
No, I just naturally struggle to review a film that is a remake of something or has spawned a remake because I personally find it incredibly difficult not to start harping on with a comparison between the two. It's especially difficult when the two films are made in entirely different eras when it comes to censorship and what we are allowed to see and here.
I was always cautious in approaching the original Cape Fear, one of my tent pole list of shame films. Its influence stretches far and wide, the story is embedded in pop culture and the performances are nothing short of iconic. Not to mention the staying power that the remake has on me and though Scorsese's film owes everything to this one, it was a challenge to divorce myself from De Niro's almost-demonic Max Cady as the benchmark of evil.
1962 was a much different time for movies. Cape Fear comes from a more moralistic, high-minded society where the real bad men of the world were never quite depicted on the big screen as what they're really capable of. Characters like…
Both versions of Cape Fear (this and the 1991 remake) are well made films, and they are just different enough from each other to the point that they both have merit in their own rights. Nobody plays a likable lawyer better than Gregory Peck and he is excellent. Even better is Mithcum, who is exceptional as a creepy stalker (also see Night of the Hunter). As I thought with the remake, the concept here is great and Bernard Herrmann's music is as good as ever. Even though I personally prefer Martin Scorsese's remake, mostly due to some of the slight changes that he added to the story (i.e. the Bowden family is already dysfunctional from the beginning and the dynamic between Cady and the daughter is more complex and layered, etc.), it doesn't take away from this Cape Fear being a great movie.
Mithum and Peck play their roles with excellence, the pacing is on point and the final act is exciting, but it's a bit too downplayed to become really, truly creepy (amazing score notwithstanding).
Holy Hell, does Robert Mitchum play a skeevy rat in this! I glanced at the Wikipedia page for this film shortly before I saw it to check the running time, and I noticed that the censors threw a fit over this and required the word "rape" to be removed from the script. That prepared me for some of the unseemly territory covered in the film, but geeeeez; Cady is a sick, sick man. I feel a bit uneasy about the whole "why can't bad people be locked up forever" angle that comes up sometimes, but when the antagonist is bent on abusing gaps and loopholes in the legal system in order to terrorize the sanity out of an innocent family,…
Figured I should check this out before hitting up the remake. Glad I did. I'm torn over some aspects of the morality on display, but I think that's part of the thematics here. The score is one of the best in history. Very excited to see what Scorsese brings to the remake.
Edit: additional thoughts after having seen the remake - cinedelphia.com/from-the-list-of-shame-files-cape-fear-and-cape-fear/
Robert Mitchum clearly relishes playing his menacing persona, while Gregory Peck is commanding as a good family man trying to protect his family from a vengeful stalker. Initially, a cry of dismay against a legal system that is ill equipped to protect the innocent, develops into an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Do apply temporal filters to this though - the level of civility among the antagonists could only emerge from a bygone era. Such composure! Bernard Herrmann provides an ominous score that in terms of themes, textures, and approach, serves as a good companion piece to Psycho.
That scene when Mitchum pops that egg and smears it all over Polly Bergen's chest is way creepier than de Niro's entire bug-eyed Hillbilly performance in the remake.
Full disclosure: I like the Scorsese remake much more and the fact that I saw it first probably had an impact on my opinion of the '62 version.
Cape Fear is a "good" movie. You can really feel the Hitchcock inspiration and Bernard Hermann's score is great. But besides that, I just don't feel like there's anything special there. Gregory Peck is fine and Robert Mitchum is effectively creepy, but that really feels like the extent of it. Like I alluded to above, I probably would have been more invested (and in turn liked it more) if the remake wasn't so close to the original. I was never surprised by anything that happened for that reason.
Also, J. Lee Thompson seems like the nicest guy ever. I'd be happy just to sit and listen to him talk and tell stories.
Taut and brooding, this is a masterwork in tension and nail-biting suspense. It makes brilliant use of light and shading, with its imagery and movement superbly heightened by Hermann's ominuous score. Mitchum's physicality and intensity is put to maximum effect.
The film is notable for how it doesn't resort to cheap, exploitative measures to get across the deplorable nature of Max Cady. It is so acutely aware that much of fear and anxiety can manifest from the imagination, which builds an impression through inferences and hearsay that end up making the subject in question even more menacing.
In this film, the Bowdens feel increasingly vulnerable, and so too does the viewer, because Max Cady is somehow both omnipresent yet difficult to pinpoint, which makes him unpredictable and therefore outside the sphere of control. This only amplifies the suspense, because we truly never know how or when he'll strike, for ever keeping both the audience and the Bowdens on high alert.
A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail.
Classic high tension thriller with Robert Mitchum delivering one of the best deranged villain performances in cinema history; however, the right-wing flavoring of the story stains the otherwise good impression of the movie as a whole.
The 2016 (2nd) edition of the list. You can see the original and more info here.
With a list of…
Top 200-ish is pretty definitive. Essentially the top/most memorable 20-25% of all the feature length films I've seen in my…