In the year 1962, (the exact year Spider-Man made his comic book debut) a movie called “Cape Fear” was released in theaters starring Robert Mitchum & Gregory Peck about a convict named, Max Cady, who seeks revenge on Sam Bowden, his former lawyer who didn’t help him get away with murder. In retaliation, Max stalks Sam and his family as prey. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never ever ever seen the original version. I admit it, never seen it.
Twenty-Nine Years Later, legendary filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed, among many others) began his project with his longtime collaborator/close friend, Robert De Niro by creating their own interpretation of Cape Fear to a new generation of movie goers.
Cape Fear was released in 1991. (same year The Silence Of The Lambs came out) The remake received positive reviews from critics and it made enough green at the box office. It went on to earn two Oscar nominations at The 64th Academy Awards for Best Actor, (Robert De Niro) and Best Supporting Actress. (Juliette Lewis)
The film went on to become a parody of a Simpsons episode called, “Cape Feare.” (a non Treehouse Of Horror episode) with Sideshow Bob taking the role as Max Cady, & Bart Simpson as Sam Bowden. It’s the infamous rake scene with Bob getting repeatedly hit by one rake after another.
With the ongoing development of Martin’s next project called The Irishman, which is suppose to reunite with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, (who has gone A.W.O.L. for a couple of years) & Al Pacino. (first collaboration between Al & Martin) I want to spread the word of mouth for anybody who’s a fan of Martin’s filmography. By the way, he’s gonna produce a solo prequel film about The Joker, long before his first encounter with Batman.
The following review doesn’t contain any SPOILERS. Which means you’re ok to read this article.
Positive & Negative Elements
Positive: Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, & Joe Don Baker, all did a great job on their respective performances.
Robert De Niro, did a wicked job on his unpredictable villainous performance as Max Cady. I’ll give him Bonus Points for going deeper into his Method Acting skills by applying tattoos on his body, bulking up his muscles, hiring a dentist by misaligning his teeth, and the way he talked, reminded me of Matthew McConaughey.
I’m gonna assume that Jared Leto’s Joker, was the inspiration for Max Cady, because both of them have tattoos on their body, stalk their enemy’s loved ones in order to get his attention, and they’re both unpredictable.
Robert Mitchum & Gregory Peck, (the original lead actors of Cape Fear) appear in the remake. Well what do ya know? Two Max Cadys for the price of one. Just so you know, the director is a big time major cinephile.
Martin Scorsese did an excellent job on directing his own interpretation of the film. He made sure he didn’t try to ruin the esscense of a classic film, because he’s much knowledgeable on cinema.
Musical Score feautres the original Cape Fear theme orchestrated by the late Bernard Hermann. He also wrote musical scores for the original Cape Fear, Citizen Kane, Psycho, (Alfred Hitchcock’s Magnum Opus, plus Bernard is one of Alfred’s collaborators) North By Northwest, and Vertigo.
Elmer Bernstein, (Ghostbusters, (1984) The Magnificent Seven, (1960) Airplane!) took over Bernard’s role as the music composer. I’ll give him abc Extra Point for retaining Bernard’s original musical theme.
Cinematography looked decent featuring no Shaky Cam throughout. Dutch Angles were used effectively to create a creepy atmosphere.
A Pause Worthy Moment, featuring a poster of Robert Smith from The Cure.
One character mentioned something about eating liver. Was this an intentional reference The Silence Of The Lambs? Did a young Abed from Community somehow got hired as a script doctor?
Negative: Product Placement featuring certain brands such as, Jim Beam, Pepto-Bismol, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, A&W. I’ll give this flaw a pass, because I couldn’t spot and other brand to shove down my throat.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
In my opinion, I thought Cape Fear was descent. Remakes can be a bit tricky sometimes, once you’ve find the right ingredients to your recipe. This is one of the high quality remakes next to The Fly, King Kong, 3:10 To Yuma, and True Grit. I highly recommend this movie if you’re a fan of Martin Scorsese’s work. Good ahead and give this a watch, as a way to prep up for The Irishman and the upcoming Joker film currently in pre-production.
One thought on “Cape Fear (1991)”
I love pieces like this written by people who know what they are talking about. I love Scorsese. He is covered in this piece on movie stills if you are interested in film photography https://thestreetphotographersguide.blog/2018/02/07/the-10-greatest-film-stills-for-a-budding-photographer/