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Cape Fear (1991)

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

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writers:

John D. MacDonald (novel), James R. Webb (earlier screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,450 ( 154)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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 Dalton Thompson ... Tom Broadbent
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
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Storyline

Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte)is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver" type family-man. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) 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 James Craver

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sam Bowden has always provided for his family's future. But the past is coming back to haunt them. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cabo de miedo See more »

Filming Locations:

Florida, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,261,025, 17 November 1991

Gross USA:

$79,091,969

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$182,291,969
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (as Dolby Stereo SR)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sole collaboration between longtime friends and New Hollywood trailblazers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Spielberg oversaw development of the project via Amblin Entertainment, although he is uncredited on the film itself. See more »

Goofs

Max sits in a convertible talking to Sam who is standing on the sidewalk. Max's watch alarm chimes yet he is wearing an analog watch. See more »

Quotes

[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.
See more »

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #33.97 (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Been Caught Stealing
Performed by Jane's Addiction
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
(plays while Danny is in her bedroom)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Not Scorcese's best, but pretty good!
12 September 2000 | by exterminator_99See all my reviews

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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