Cape Fear ★★★★

Diane Taylor: «You're just an animal: coarse, lustful, barbaric.»
Max Cady: «Keep right on talkin', honey. I like it when you run me down like that.»

I often wonder what filmmakers really attempt to achieve when they're remaking unique classics. What drives them? Sometimes, I reckon, it's money. In those cases when the studio initiates a remake that's often the case. They can then put a somewhat unexperienced director at the helm and get it done. But no studio no longer tells people like Martin Scorsese what to do, do they? So in this case it must be something different. Perhaps it was relaxing to do a couple of remakes after the creatively challenging 80's decade. Certainly it couldn't be that Scorsese thought he could do a far better job with this than J. Lee Thompson had done? Because he didn't. I'm not really saying that Scorsese's remake is bad. However it is above all one of the most unnecessary remakes in history. He's not doing the film any service at all by emphasizing heavily on the sex and instructing De Niro into religious lunacy. Now - I haven't read up on why Scorsese did this and if anyone wants to arrest me on what I have written, you're welcome to do so. But then let the above be a general statement, my little sigh of the heart.

Because, and from here I'm going to forget about the remake, Cape Fear (1962) stands solid on its own feet. Let me tell you one thing, I totally understand why Gregory Peck is worried. I wouldn't want to have Robert Mitchum after me either. His Max Cady is convincingly scary without having to behave like a total freak to achieve it, it comes from inside like it did in The Night of the Hunter. He was one of the rare few actors that could do a thing like this and is perfect for the role. His opponent Gregory Peck could be a little wooden sometimes, in The Gunfighter he proved that he needn't be, but anyway he quite fits the attorney / familyman role. After all he had good practice perfecting that in 1962 with a stellar performance in To Kill a Mockingbird. His wife and daughter are the weaker characters. Here I must mention the remake again, sorry, Juliette Lewis is good in that one. Partly so because she acts out so well on the not exactly subtle sexual elements. The times were different in the early sixties, and the innocent Lolita daughter may be found almost annoying today. She however participates in one of the very best sequences of the film, near the end, when Cady finally has gotten too close for comfort. Lamb to the slaughter seldom was a truer expression.

I actually didn't remember how good this was, having seen it only once, many, many years ago. I was also glad to find it technically brilliant. Black & White widescreen are maybe my favorite format when used to its best advantage. It's a true noir, no doubt there (even if it's made after 1959). I can heartily recommend this - you will also get to see Telly Savalas with hair.

Jacob liked this review