CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Crime, Horror
  • 1991
  • 128 mins

Cape Fear

Cape Fear

Synopsis

Scorsese revisits this classic 1960s tale of a psychotic's revenge on his defence attorney and his family, and ups the ante with added horror, grand guignol and technical bravura

About

Martin Scorsese's re-make was undertaken, he says, "as a favour to the studio", and he is certainly working in broad, populist strokes here, stoking up the murderous tension, sacrificing plausibility, and turning in a piece rigid with suspense and psychopathic cat-and-mouse. It's not difficult to see what attracted him to the story. Like most, if not all, of his movies, it's a story of guilt, sin and redemption.

The 1961 thriller had Robert Mitchum playing the murderous rapist, Max Cady, released from jail, bent on revenge on his defence lawyer and his family. Cady here is played by De Niro, and becomes a cartoonish incarnation of Biblical vengeance: rippling muscles, scripture quotations and scales of justice tattoos - overwrought, but great fun to watch. In Gregory Peck's role as the sniffy lawyer, Sam Bowden, is Nolte, his character now a petty adulterer. De Niro is terrifying, Nolte vacillates believably between strength and weakness, and Juliette Lewis, as Sam's daughter, Danielle, is amazing as she explores her burgeoning sexuality.

The remake is good, like the original, but still less than the sum of its parts. The darker side given to the Bowden family, particularly, seems little more than a conceit - why couldn't they be straightforwardly good as in the first version? Are we too complex for that nowadays?

Look out for cameos from Peck, Mitchum and Martin Balsam: they all appeared in the original.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Joe Don Baker, Robert Mitchum, Juliette Lewis, Nick Nolte, Robert De Niro, Gregory Peck, Jessica Lange, Martin Balsam
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Screen Writer: Wesley Strick
  • Writer (Book): John D MacDonald
  • Producer: Barbara DeFina
  • Photographer: Freddie Francis
  • Composer: Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann

In a nutshell

It has a lot to recommend it, but did we really need a remake of Cape Fear?

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share