Written by: John D MacDonald, Wesley Strick, James R Webb
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum & Joe Don Baker
* The Story *
Cape fear follows the story of Sam Bowden (Nolte) as a defense lawyer who’s having marriage troubles with his wife (Lange) and a former violent criminal from his past is released from prison. What follows is an intense psychological thriller. Max Cady (De Niro) seeks revenge on his defense lawyer who sent him away to prison for 14 years for rape. Murder, manipulation and stalking are just some of what Max Cady intends to inflict upon the Bowden family.
*My thoughts *
First of all this film is a criminally underrated Scorsese film. This film is such an excellent remake and retelling of a 1960’s film. Between this and the Departed if there’s a film that has to be remade let Martin Scorsese do it please. What Scorsese does here is use all of his movie making skills and ingenuity to create a setting of tension and suspense. Some of the camera angles, music and styles on display harken back to an older style of filmmaking. Scorsese yet again here proving why he’s the greatest not only living director but he’s the GREATEST filmmaker of all time. Scorsese exudes confidence with his choices here and he let’s it all play out on the screen which he uses incredibly well.
The theme song to Cape Fear too is chilling. Legendary composer Bernard Hermann used a 46 string section, flutes and French horns to get the iconic and terrifying theme for the film.
The acting on display in this film is incredible. The Bowden family and Max Cady are played so incredibly well and authentically by the actors involved. The way Robert De Niro embodied this psychotic character is some of his finest work. Max Cady is one of the creepiest and horrifying characters I’ve ever seen on film. His southern accent, tattoos, cigar smoking and intimidating nature is completely revolting. Add to that that he’s a violent rapist and now stalker and you’ve gotten yourself an antagonist to rival some of the best on screen. De Niro really steals each and every scene he’s in and considering the cast and their work here that’s no easy thing to do. If you want to see Robert De Niro at his most insane, violent and deranged then Cape Fear is a must see for any film fan.
Nick Nolte as Sam Bowden is one of my favourite roles of his. Nolte has to bounce between how he acts around his family, Max Cady and the public. Nolte brings a genuine feeling of dread and remorse for his involvement in the life of Max Cady. The range of emotions he has to go to here is incredible, his depths of emotions, the highs and lows his character goes to demand a lot from the actor and Nolte as usual delivered.
Jessica Lange who plays Leigh Bowden is married to Sam and she’s struggling with his infidelity and now the deranged psychopath that’s stalking her family. Lange is really great in her role here and she’s very empathetic in the situation she finds herself in.
Juliette Lewis at such a young age here gives a performance with so much authenticity, nuance and emotion that she appears as someone who’s been on screen and acting with legends for years. She holds her own and stands out even despite the high calibre of actors involved in all of her scenes in the film.
From the story to the acting, direction and music used here Cape Fear is one of my favourite horror/ psychological horror films. This is the type of film that terrifies me a psychopath who’s dead set on revenge and ruining lives for his own vengeance and righteousness.