334 user 133 critic

Cape Fear (1991)

2:34 | Trailer
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.


Martin Scorsese


John D. MacDonald (novel), James R. Webb (earlier screenplay) | 1 more credit »
740 ( 263)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Max Cady
Nick Nolte ... Sam Bowden
Jessica Lange ... Leigh Bowden
Juliette Lewis ... Danielle Bowden
Joe Don Baker ... Claude Kersek
Robert Mitchum ... Lieutenant Elgart
Gregory Peck ... Lee Heller
Martin Balsam ... Judge
Illeana Douglas ... Lori Davis
Fred Thompson ... Tom Broadbent (as Fred Dalton Thompson)
Zully Montero Zully Montero ... Graciella
Craig Henne Craig Henne ... Prisoner
Forest Burton Forest Burton ... Prisoner
Edgar Allan Poe IV Edgar Allan Poe IV ... Prisoner
Rod Ball ... Prisoner


Imprisoned for brutally assaulting a young girl, Max Cady spends his time in jail wisely - reading literature, sculpting his body to perfection and planning his violent revenge on the defence lawyer who put him behind bars. After serving his fourteen year sentence, Cady is released from prison and his rampage begins. Written by BecksyKane

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Bowden family has moved to New Essex. See more »


Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In the 1962 film "To Kill a Mockingbird", actor Gregory Peck portrayed an attorney in a rape trial. The novel on which it was based was written by Harper Lee. In this film, Peck portrays an attorney for a man formerly sentenced to prison for rape. His name in the story is Lee Heller. See more »


The detective's blood pool changes shape on the kitchen floor. See more »


[first lines]
Danielle: 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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Crazy Credits

On the video, the music and nighttime crickets audio continue over not only the Amblin Entertainment logo after the credits end, but the MPAA Rated R screen and the Universal Studios plug as well.

On the DVD, the Universal Studios plug is removed and the audio continues over just a black screen after the MPAA Rated R screen. See more »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER: When the movie was originally shown on network television, the blood left by Kersek's killing was optically removed by censors and replaced by a clean tile floor. See more »


Referenced in Ratched: Pilot (2020) See more »


I Think We're Alone Now
Written by Ritchie Cordell
Performed by Robert De Niro
(Max Cady (DeNiro) sings a line from this tune to Danny (Juliette Lewis) during their meeting at her school)
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User Reviews

Another classic in the bag for Scorsese and De Niro.
7 September 1999 | by Chuck-149See all my reviews

I haven't seen the original "Cape fear" with Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck yet, but it's got to be pretty good to be better than this one. Although the end is somewhat a little farfetched, the rest of the movie is absolutely riveting. De Niro got a very well-deserved nomination for his role as crazy Max Cady but fell on a bad year because it was pretty hard to beat Hopkin's performance in "The silence of the lambs".

After 14 years in jail, Max Cady is released and goes back to New Essex to seek revenge on Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), his attorney at the public defendor's office back then when he was convicted. Now, I can't tell you why he seeks revenge on Bowden without spoiling the plot of the movie. However, I can tell you that De Niro is excellent and that Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, and surprisingly enough, Joe Don Baker, are very good as well. The final scene at Cape fear is incredibly tense. Although a little gory for one or two scenes, "Cape fear" is well worth a watch.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cape Fear See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,261,025, 17 November 1991

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (as Dolby Stereo SR)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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