Review: Cape Fear (1962)

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Year: 1962
Score: 8/10

Gregory Peck, expert hat-spotter.

Gregory Peck, expert hat-spotter.

Highly effective thriller, much better than the 1991 version. Robert Mitchum’s performance as Max Cady is key to the film’s success; he’s creepy, malicious and relentless, and he instills genuine fear despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he isn’t shown being violent until the end. Beyond the monstrous villain himself, the other main source of fear is the utter uselessness of the authorities; our hero (ably played by Gregory Peck) attempts to work within the law but quickly and disturbingly discovers that it’s very much on Cady’s side. Bernard Herrmann’s score is excellent, ramping up the tension nicely. Outside of To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s hard to think of a Gregory Peck film better than this one.

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