Sam Bowden is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver"-esque family-man. Max Cady is a tattooed, cigar-smoking, bible-quoting, rapist. What do they have in common? Fourteen years, ago Sam was a public defender assigned to Max Cady's rape trial, and he made a serious error: he hid a document from his illiterate client that could have gotten him acquitted. Now, the cagey, bibliophile Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss. Written by
Illeana Douglas based her performance as Lori Davis on Jennifer Levin, who was murdered in 1986 in Central Park by Robert Chambers (whom the press dubbed the "Preppy Murderer"). See more »
Cady asks Bowden to recite Canon Seven of the ABA Model Code.
The Model Code was abandoned in 1983 and replaced with the Modern Rules of Professional Conduct, which has no canons. As Cady had been in prison for 14 years, the earlier Model Code would still have been in place when Bowden represented him. See more »
My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: "Cape Fear". When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.
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Later half of the credits are played to the sound of nighttime crickets. See more »
Martin Scorcese's filmography as director is one of the most accomplished in modern film history. While Cape Fear can't even hold a candle next to "Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas", it is still a fabulous remake of the 1962 noir classic and it keeps the viewer on the edge right through until the closing credits.
Robert De Niro (in yet another brilliant teaming with Scorcese behind the camera) plays Max Cady, a psychopathic rapist who was sent to jail 14 years earlier for such crimes. He leaves prison with vengeance. Not for his victims or his prosecutor, but his defence councillor, Sam J. Bowden, played by Nick Nolte. It seems Bowden did not defend Cady to the best of his ability. Cady knows this and wants some payback.
Cady's initial return into Bowden's life could not have come at a worse time. Bowden has been forced to move his family to Florida after his infidelities threatened his marriage and career. His wife is distrustful and worst of all, Bowden is on the verge of beginning another affair with a female workmate. Added to that, his daughter is at the difficult age of 15.
Almost by ozmosis, Cady understands these problems in the Bowden household and acts on them. He begins terrorising Bowden and his whole family, taking it from one extreme to the next.
What makes Cape Fear such a good film is the rapidly increasing sense of claustrophobia. Scorcese makes a point of using almost only close up shots towards the end of the film. It is a great touch that makes the viewer that much more scared as the film goes on.
Along with that, Robert De Niro is superb as Cady. Only occasionally does the role slip into parody. Mostly he is expertly evil.
Nick Nolte is good if not great, the same for Jessica Lange as Leigh Bowden. It seems as if they were void of any great lines in this film, which is unfortunate given their immense talent. Julliette Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the young daughter, Danielle. She slips effortlessly between curious sexual awakenings, rebellious teen and straight thinking woman. Add in small roles for Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck (the leads of the 1962 version) and you have a great ensemble cast.
So not the best Scorcese film ever, but some tight editing, great camerawork, a haunting theme and devilishly over-the-top acting help make this a frighteningly fun movie to watch. Strongly recommended.
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