Thursday, November 12, 2015

Netflix Mail Day Movie Review: "Cape Fear" (1962)

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Movie"Cape Fear"
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Year: 1962
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is a convicted felon who just got out of prison. He has tracked down Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), one of the men responsible for putting him in jail. Max starts to harass Sam, always popping up wherever Sam is, and makes thinly veiled threats towards his family, especially his young daughter. Max wants revenge, but he is going to take it slow as he hopes to drive Sam to destroy himself and leave his family unprotected.  

Today, most people may know the name "Cape Fear" from its remake, the one directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte. Unbeknownst to us and long before that version was ever made, the original, filmed in 1962, stars Robert Mitchum as Max Cady, who often played creeper types of roles when he was an actor. In this version, Sam Bowden is played by the incomparable Gregory Peck, one of our favorite old school actors. Max Cady is an ex-con and has been spending his years in prison reading law books, trying to finding the perfect way to enact his revenge on Sam Bowden, a man he blames for his conviction. Now, Max doesn't want to kill Sam or his family outright. No no, he has much more sinister plots in mind. Once released from prison, Max begins to turn up at the same places where Sam and his family are, following them from afar or even outright confronting them in public. Cady offers veiled threats towards Sam and his family, especially his young daughter Nancy, played by Lori Martin. All of this is extremely unnerving and offers some really excellent tension throughout the film. Sam starts to get shaken by Cady's threats and one day, he has finally had enough, blatantly threatens Cady in public, snapping to the pressure. Sam attempts to use all of his connections in the police department to try and run Cady out of town. This starts to make Sam look like a criminal and slowly puts the law in Cady's favor, especially when considering that technically, Cady had done nothing wrong and there was no proof of his threats.

As audience members, we know Cady is the bad guy, so with each advantage Cady takes, it adds to the film's unnerving nature. The movie's slow-burning nature only adds to the suspense. Even though the subject matter is rather unpleasant to think about, especially if you have kids, we revel in this movie's ability to make us squirm with each twisty psychological turn. This all culminates in an exciting climatic showdown and one that we won't spoil here, even though the movie is 53 years old. Despite being overshadowed by its remake and the impeccable performances by Nolte and De Niro, the original "Cape Fear" is still every bit as good as the remake. The performances by Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck are insanely good, and the two have marvelous interactions with one another, even when they are literally at each other's threats. The bottom line is, do yourself a favor and watch both versions. It's most certainly worth the time investment.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Expendables 3"

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