Cape Fear (1962) vs. Cape Fear (1991)
I know Cape Fear isn’t exactly a horror movie, but let’s face it Robert Mitchum created one of the creepiest villains that it would be a shame not to talk about theses films.
After serving an eight-year prison term for rape and assault, Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is now back out on the streets and he’s obsessed with getting his revenge on Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the former prosecutor responsible for Cady's conviction. Cady finds Sam and tells him he attends to get pay back and his reign of terror begins.
Cady is careful to stay within the law. Sam, realizing that Cady intends to wreak vengeance by raping the attorney's wife (Polly Bergen) and daughter (Lori Martin), tries to put the ex-criminal behind bars, but finds it more difficult when he can’t accuse him of anything.
It’s very unpleasant subject matter but the film does hold your attention to the very end. Gregory Peck keeps you cheering for his character and Robert Mitchum keeps you fearing his.
The biggest flaws the film does have is that it’s very formulaic and deals with some disgusting elements.
The remake was put together by Martin Scorsese, which is odd that he would want to do a movie like this. At times you do see him struggle with the pulp in Cape Fear but he’s such a pro that he makes it work.
Some people might find this version to be inferior to the 1962 version and I really don’t. Robert De Niro takes on the role of Max Cady, the part Mitchum made infamous, and I have to say I was more afraid of De Niro’s version of the character. He felt much more menacing to me and I needed to watch The Godfather part II a couple time to get this character of De Niro’s out of my head.
The style of the film out weighed the original for me, I also liked how it seemed slightly smarter.
It’s a brutal movie that deals with sexual assault and that’s always something that I hate seeing in films.
So, which is better?
This is a hard one and it comes down to the performances of Mitchum and De Niro. Yet, after really thinking about it I found that De Niro’s performance was more terrifying and that Scorsese is able to make a remake by never forgetting to put his own style on things.