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: Nick Nolte, Martin Balsam, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Jessica Lange, Joe Don Baker, Robert De Niro, Gregory Peck
  • 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

    Black Nativity

    Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett star in director Kasi Lemmons' seasonal drama.

  • Film4

    August: Osage County

    John Wells directs this star-studded adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts (Killer Joe, Bug).

  • Film4

    Northern Soul on Film4

    Elliot James Langridge and Josh Whitehouse star in Northern Soul, playing on Film4 for the first time.

  • Film4

    Marvel Triple Bill on Film4

    Film4 brings you a special Marvel triple bill this Christmas, starring Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share