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4.5 out of 5 stars
Cape Fear [Blu-ray] [1962]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The intense 1962 thriller stars Gregory Peck as Sam Bowden, a lawyer who is stalked by ex-con Max Cady (Robert Mitchum). It seems Peck withheld evidence in Cady's trial, and by doing so, helped send him to prison for years. Now Cady's out, and wants to get even by hurting Sam's wife (Polly Bergen) and daughter. They hide in a house boat moored in Cape Fear, knowing Cady will do anything to get revenge.
Gregory Peck is outstanding as the dedicated attorney and desperate family man. Mitchum is so creepy and slimy in this film you'll be breathless watching his performance, which surely is one of his best. Every ounce of him seethes with hatred and evil. Polly Bergen and Lori Martin, as the daughter, are convincingly terrified as the ex-con gets closer and closer.
This version of the film is better than the remake, thanks to the fine acting of the stars and a script that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you like chilling movies, you'll love Cape Fear.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
J. Lee Thompson's 1962 version of Cape Fear may not be a masterpiece, but in everyway it's a superior thriller to Martin Scorsese's horribly misjudged remake. More surprisingly, it's also much nastier even with the heavier censorship of the day - Robert Mitchum's treatment of Polly Bergen in the last reel is startlingly violent and disturbing even now and its still shocking to see an early 60s film that revolves around sex crimes. There's no doubt exactly what's on Mitchum's mind, whether he's eyeing up a pickup in a bar or breaking an egg in his fist and smearing the yolk over the mother's shoulders and neck: like a lazy reptile waiting to casually catch a fly with his tongue, he merely has to look at Gregory Peck's underage daughter to exude menace. Where the remake offered a dysfunctional family forced to come together, the original offers something much more anarchic, as Gregory Peck's Mr Civil Liberties gradually comes to realize that the only way to protect his All-American family from Mitchum's strutting lizard-like vengeful ex-con is play dirty himself and plan his murder using his own daughter as bait. He may be playing another small-town southern lawyer, but he's is as far way from Atticus Finch as Mitchum's seedy, cocky but thoroughly self-aware Max Cady is from his self-deluding self-righteous `preacher' Harry Powell.

While Mitchum and Peck occupy centre-stage, James Webb's tight script ensures the supporting cast make a strong impression too as they usher Peck further down the path to murder: Martin Balsam's sympathetic police chief who'll bend the law a little to harass an ex-con for a solid citizen, Telly Savalas (with hair) as a pragmatic private eye who is not above calling in as little help from the wrong side of tracks and Jack Kruschen, not playing Jewish for a change, as Cady's mouthpiece who knows just how to use the law to protect the guilty. Aided immensely by Samuel Leavitt's menacing black and white photography and Bernard Herrmann's dramatically sinister score, Thompson's direction is right on target throughout: he may not have been one of the great directors, but he knew how to tell a story without losing the characters along the way, and he's at the top of his game here. It may not be quite a classic, but it is a strikingly effective thriller, albeit an undeniably nasty one.

Unusually for a film of the period, this boasts a surprisingly excellent DVD, with a good widescreen black and white transfer and plenty of extras, from a half hour documentary (though sadly only Thompson and Peck contribute, with Mitchum notably absent), production notes, a well-designed stills montage and the original theatrical trailer. Aside from the production notes these are carried over to the region-free US Blu-ray but have all been excluded from the UK and European Blu-ray release.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2012
Greetings from across the pond...

I live in the U.S. and this movie I've been waiting patiently for it's blu-ray release in the U.S. When I discovered that it was available here at the UK site, I had to order it straight away. I had seen all of these movies at a cinema back when I was in my early teenage years. I'm also still waiting for the original '60s film masterpiece THE HAUNTING which isn't available anywhere on blu-ray. Another film from this period that I also love was THE INNOCENTS. I purchased THE INNOCENTS from Amazon UK but it is a Region B release. Luckily I have a Region-Free blu-ray player so I can enjoy these films long as my player keeps working.

Getting back on track I had seen a superb Hi-Def transfer of this film on one of the Hi-Def Movie channels from my cable company. The transfer was absolutely the best I could ever have expected. When the blu-ray of this title arrived from Amazon UK I couldn't wait to pop it in and get ready for this hi-def film.

I was NOT one bit disappointed. On the contrary it was as good and probably far better than what I had seen on of the movie channels. There are a full range of black and white throughout the film. It definitely appears to have been remastered with loving care. The transfer is simply gorgeous - very clean which really shows off the fine work of the director of photography (the cinematographer). The sound is equally top-rate and this blu-ray is REGION-FREE.

If you are lover of classic thrillers without all the gore shown in most of today's films... then this blu-ray is a must own.

In the short time I've had this disc, I've seen it 4 times. It's one of those rare films that is great to watch multiple times without it getting stale.

I highly recommend this blu-ray and thank Amazon UK for making it available to purchase from outside the UK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Lawyer Sam Bowden's life becomes torturous when Max Cady re-enters his life, after going to jail for 8 years when Bowden testified that Cady attacked a young woman.

Now that Cady has been released, he begins to terrorise Bowden and his family, particularly targeting Bowden's daughter, Nancy.

Initially, Cady uses his newfound knowledge of the law, to annoy the Bowdens, but then poisons the family dog.......

It's a difficult one this. I was at an age where an '18' certificate movie was like a treasure chest full of forbidden fruits, and when Scorcese's remake was released, I was 14 years old, and just getting into my lifelong love of the cinema.

Plus, it was 1992, and trying to source the original wasn't as easy as it is today thanks to streaming, DVD, and other media, so this film went begging for a while.

So watching this, without comparing the two is extremely difficult, because core scenes are almost identical, but this film has a lot more depth, and Peck and Mitchum are more desperate, more emotionally charged than De Niro and Nolte, and after seeing this, the remake feels more like an exploitation piece, enabling Scorcese to experiment with cameras and filters.

The camera-work here is wonderful, and adds more to the mise en scene, particularly the scene where Cady goes to attack Bowdens daughter,the camera is used in a way to emphasise Cadys intimidating figure, almost making him giant like, whereas she is made to look almost mouse like.

Regarding the ending, its a much, much satisfying ending than the remake, and the boat scene is far more tense, as Sam is not on the boat when Cady infiltrates it.

So again, it's proof that a classic film cannot be remade as a better piece, no matter who is involved. Having said that, I still like the original, if only for its experimental camera work, and exploitation element.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes, the most terrifying monsters are the ones that look just like humans.

And one such monster is at the heart of "Cape Fear," one of the most harrowing movies from Hollywood's golden age. Rather than a straightforward thriller, this movie explores how sometimes both crime and justice can go outside the law -- and how far some people will go for revenge.

Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) sent Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) to prison for rape, eight years ago. Now Cady has been released, and is determined to settle the old score -- and Bowden's wife and teenage daughter are next. Bowden tries to get the police to help, but until Cady breaks a law, they can't do anything.

And so Cady begins his vendetta against Bowden -- he stalks Bowden's daughter and poisons the dog. He rapes a young woman, then frightens her into not telling. As Bowden's life becomes a living nightmare, he knows that he will have to go outside the law to deal with Cady -- and he'll have to set a trap.

Hitchcock would have been jealous. Not many movies -- even of his movies -- create the sense of pure evil that "Cape Fear" does. Stalking laws didn't exist back then, and so until a crime was committed and charges were pressed, the police literally could not do a thing.

And that conflict is the heart of "Cape Fear." As a lawyer, Bowden believes firmly in the justice of law at the beginning, but that is shattered when Cady uses the law for himself. J. Lee Thompson illustrates how law and justice aren't the same thing -- Cady is evil but works within the law, while Bowden must go vigilante to keep his innocent family safe.

And J. Lee Thompson does a great job creating this nightmare. Ominous music, shadowy sets, and taut, terrifying sequences that seem a little too real, such as when Cady relentlessly pursues little Nancy around the school. And the dialogue is as tight as the plot ("We're gonna nurse you back to health. And you're strong, Cady. You're gonna live a long life... in a cage!").

Peck and Mitchum are absolutely amazing in this movie. Few actors could pull off the cold, calculating evil of Mitchum's Cady. Rape, murder, pedophilia -- you name it, he'll do it. Peck is equally outstanding as the devoted father and husband, but he is at his best when Bowden is slowly being stretched to the breaking point.

"Cape Fear" is the sort of horror story that can happen in real life, and Peck and Mitchum's performances elevate it into a classic. Absolutely terrifying, amazingly made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have to say that in every respect the film is good to the point of excellent. All the actors are superb and the action and direction sew a feasible storyline and plot together admirably.
I have not given it a top ranking of five stars simply because the ending is a bit hollow despite the horror of the family's ordeal. I suppose the idea is to create a sense of awe regarding the evil spirit which might abide in some individuals, driving them to the extreme to mutilate and destroy and only the ferocity of nature itself can match such evil. Or perhaps I am being too fanciful in my conjecture. I would have liked to see the villain upended by his own sadistic desire to inflict pain and maybe some realisation by him of his villainy and even his lunacy. . perhaps too subtle .. anyway.. stories which are bound to see the goodies win often lack a final punch to make us sit up.
A major goof....should have been for the De Niro version.. sorry if I have caused any confusion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Max Cady is fresh out of prison and down in Florida looking for someone in particular. That person is lawyer Sam Bowden, the man who Cady holds responsible for his years of incarceration. Once Bowden realises that Cady is out for revenge, and that his family are in serious danger, he turns to the police for help, but unable to get help from them, he goes outside of the law, and all parties are heading for the foreboding place known as Cape Fear.

Brilliant villainy, unnerving story and suspense pouring from every frame, Cape Fear is an abject lesson in how to produce a quality thriller. Based on a novel called The Executioners written by John D. MacDonald, the piece is bolstered by some perfect casting decisions and by having a director able to pace with precision, thus it stands tall and proud as a highlight in a tough old genre. Robert Mitchum is Cady, a big hulking man with an immoral face, he terrifies purely by his undaunted objectives, with Mitchum clearly revelling in such a role. As Bowden we have Gregory Peck, playing it right as the uptight and stiff lawyer forced to find toughness from within. Backed up by excellent cameos from Martin Balsam, Telly Savalas and Polly Bergen, Cape Fear also features one of Bernard Herrmann's finest scores, a complete and utter nerve shredder that hangs in the ears long after the film has finished.

What lifts this above many of its thriller peers is that its dialogue is firmly accentuated by the character portrayals, watch as Cady calmly digresses about how he learnt the law in prison, or how he seeps with deviant sexual aggression when confronting the Bowden women, it's badness personified and literally a force of evil, so much so that the breaking of an egg is metaphorically a portent of pain unbound. Director J. Lee Thompson's career shows him to have been a steady if unspectacular director at times, but he directs this with no amount of zip and he deftly reins it in for a stifling last quarter at the Cape Fear bayou. Along with his cinematographer, Sam Leavitt, Thompson expertly uses shadow and light to consistently keep the feeling of dread looming as much of a hostile presence as Bobby Mitchum is throughout the play.

By the time the finale reveals its denouement, it's hoped that you are as living on your nerves as this particular viewer always is when viewing this clinically sharp piece of thriller cinema. 9/10
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Universal Pictures presents "CAPE FEAR" (12 April 1962) (105 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Small-town lawyer Sam Bowden's (Gregory Peck) life becomes torturous when Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) 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.

Riveting from the first frame to last --- Well shot, with excellent performances from the entire cast, and a great Bernard Herrmann score.

Under the production staff of:
J. Lee Thompson [Director]
John D. MacDonald [novel "The Executioners"]
James R. Webb [Screenwriter]
Sy Bartlett [Producer]
Bernard Herrmann [Film Score]
Sam Leavitt [Cinematographer]
George Tomasini [Film Editor]

BIOS:
1. J. Lee Thompson [Director]
Date of Birth: 1 August 1914 - Bristol, England, UK
Date of Death: 30 August 2002 - Sooke, British Columbia, Canada

2. Gregory Peck [aka: Eldred Gregory Peck]
Date of Birth: 5 April 1916 - La Jolla, California
Date of Death: 12 June 2003 - Los Angeles, California

3. Robert Mitchum [aka: Robert Charles Durman Mitchum]
Date of Birth: 6 August 1917 - Bridgeport, Connecticut
Date of Death: 1 July 1997 - Santa Barbara, California

4. Polly Bergen [aka: Nellie Paulina Burgin]
Date of Birth: 14 July 1930 - Knoxville, Tennessee
Date of Death: Still Living

the cast includes:
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

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 105 min on DVD ~ Universal Pictures ~ (09/18/2001)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
Well, I saw the remake of cape fear when i was in my teens and it was relatively new. I loved it and have watched it several times. It is only recently that I actually realised it was a remake so have been desperate to see the original. It is also a great film, obviously old and in black and white, but very good. I prefer how the characters are portrayed here, especially Bowden. A lot of the story line is similar but there are also some vast differences. I like bits of both takes, and ideally, this version with todays acting and technology would be superb.
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on 14 December 2012
Excellent idea from Universal pictures to put the original and remake of "Cape Fear" together. True Hollywood heavyweights Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, and the much underatted Martin Balsam (Psycho, Twelve Angry Men), along with pre-Kojack Telly Savalas, Polly Bergen and the sultry Barrie Chase, perform extremely well in this screen adaption of the book "The Executioner's. "

Preceeding reviewers have gone into the plot so I won't detail it here. But if you are about to see this film for the first time, I envy you. It really is an edge-of-the-seat affair!

Trivial note: The brilliant score is composed by Hitchcock favourite Bernard Herrmann, and if it seems familiar, it's because it is played on The Simpsons everytime Sideshow Bob is in an episode.

In the remake Bob De Niro plays the part of Max Cady, the man looking for revenge, Mitchum and Peck return in this colour version which is one of the best remakes I've seen and I don't tend to like remakes. I still prefer the original though. Jessica Lange and the now rock singer Juliette Lewis both turn-in sterling performances as does Nick Nolte.

Both versions come with very good extra packages that include; Making of, biogs, production photos, trailer, production notes and DVD-ROM features.
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