7.7/10
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170 user 89 critic

Cape Fear (1962)

Passed | | Drama, Thriller | 20 May 1962 (Canada)
A lawyer's family is stalked by a man he once helped put in jail.

Director:

J. Lee Thompson

Writers:

John D. MacDonald (novel), James R. Webb (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... Sam Bowden
Robert Mitchum ... Max Cady
Polly Bergen ... Peggy Bowden
Lori Martin ... Nancy Bowden
Martin Balsam ... Police Chief Mark Dutton
Jack Kruschen ... Attorney Dave Grafton
Telly Savalas ... Private Detective Charles Sievers
Barrie Chase ... Diane Taylor
Paul Comi ... Garner
John McKee John McKee ... Officer Marconi
Page Slattery Page Slattery ... Deputy Kersek
Ward Ramsey ... Officer Brown
Edward Platt ... Judge
Will Wright ... Dr. Pearsall
Joan Staley ... Waitress
Learn more

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Storyline

Small-town lawyer Sam Bowden's life becomes torturous when Max Cady re-enters his life. Cady went to jail for 8 years after Bowden testified that Cady attacked a young woman. Now that Cady has been released, he begins to terrorize Bowden and his family, particularly targeting Bowden's daughter, Nancy. Initially, Cady uses his newfound knowledge of the law (learned in prison) to annoy the Bowdens, then poisons the family dog... Who's next ? Written by Chris Holland <cholland@atlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Their ordeal of terror triggers the screen's most savage war of nerves! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sam Bowden and Max Cady are the only characters to retain the same names in Cape Fear (1991). See more »

Goofs

The launch in which the Bowden family travels to the houseboat has a full windshield. Later, when Sam leaves by himself, only the windshield's frame is present; the glass is gone. See more »

Quotes

Max Cady: 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!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 24th Day (2004) See more »

User Reviews

Delivers the Goods
28 April 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

When Cady (Mitchum) slips into the water, it's like an alligator sneaking up on its prey. Except this is a houseboat with two vulnerable women in his sights. With those sleepy eyes, it's hard to know just what sadistic acts he's got in mind, but we know it's too grisly for the screen. Remember what he did to poor Diane (Chase), and he wasn't even mad at her. Cape Fear should have been named Cape Fear, Shudder and Sweat.

This is about the last word in stalker movies. More importantly, it shows how using less often produces more. Mitchum underplays the stalker role, but he also knows how to imply unspeakable evil, which is really more effective than blood splatter. It's what's in your imagination that's really scary. Ditto Peck, (Sam) whose on-screen reserve speaks volumes in grim determination-- he's got to protect his family. Only Bergen as the terrified wife gets to really cut loose. What a first-rate cast, plus expert pacing from director Thompson.

I guess the movie's moral is that if the law can't protect you, you've got to do it yourself. At that primitive level, there's no holds barred. So the tension really mounts as we discover Cady's animal cunning is too much for the law or even for hired thugs. In the end, then, it's going to have to be Cady vs. Sam, mano y mano. It's sort of like a modern morality tale of the nuclear family vs. a swamp beast. No doubt about it, the movie's a real nail-biter the whole way.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 May 1962 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

The Executioners See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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