CAPE FEAR (1962)

Dir. J. Lee Thompson

Robert De Niro may have earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of this classic thriller, but it’s Robert Mitchum in the original who gave the truly iconic performance. As Max Cady, a sadistic sex criminal out for revenge on the lawyer (Gregory Peck) who sent him up the river for six years, he uses his hooded eyes, deep voice and laconic air for quiet menace. His presence alone more than justifies Peck’s fear for wife Polly Bergen and daughter Lori Martin. And when Mitchum cuts loose in the big “horror” scenes, he’s truly terrifying; he even scared Bergen and co-star Barrie Chase during filming. Peck, who produced this adaptation of John D. MacDonald’s The Executioners, had the wisdom to cast Mitchum over stock villain types like Ernest Borgnine, who was mentioned for the role. Despite his leading man status, Mitchum knew what it meant to be labeled a criminal. Decades earlier he had been arrested for vagrancy in Savannah, GA, the film’s principal location, and sentenced to serve on a chain gang.

In attendance: Barrie Chase.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret that Polly Bergen will be unable to attend this presentation as previously announced.

CAPE FEAR
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