Cape Fear (1962)
Reviewed on 2013 November 30
This classic was remade, beautifully at that, by Scorcese, and even featured a cameo by Gregory Peck as a slimy legal weasel. Despite all that, it still wasn’t as good as the original. It’s great, but you should start with the 1962 version, just to see Robert Mitchum.
Counselor Sam Bowden (Peck) is about to have his life overturned by a figure from his past. Max Cady (Mitchum), a filthy sadist he put away years ago, is out of jail. Like many psychopaths, Max blames Bowden and just about everyone else in the room for his incarceration. All Bowden did was get him off the streets. In other words, Bowden is going to be punished for doing his job. Cady decides the best way to do this is to threaten Bowden’s wife and daughter.
Thanks to Robert Mitchum, this was as dark as it was entertaining. He was lazy charm in A Holiday Affair, and here he was one of the creepiest men I’ve ever seen. The remake also had an inherent disadvantage: moral ambiguity. Scorcese was creative and brave to have characters with soft or flawed moral centers in his remake, but I think it’s much more of a nightmare to be punished for doing everything right.
Three chocolate morsels for both, but the original has the edge.