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Cape Fear (1962)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Cape Fear (1962) order
Director:
J. Lee Thompson

Actors:
Gregiry Peck
Robert Mitchum
Polly Bergen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Robert Mitchum is Max Cady, an ex-con obsessed with revenge against Sam Bowden (Peck), a straight-laced lawyer who testified against him. The twisted Cady decides to get to Bowden through his wife (Polly Bergen) and young daughter. With the help of the police dept. and Telly Savalas, he must play a deadly game of chess against a madman
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
If you’re the type of person who believes that a movie is only as good as its bad guy, then you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Although much tamer than its 1991 remake that starred Robert DeNiro, Mitchum plays the bad guy so well that he actually makes you uncomfortable at certain times. The main difference between the two versions is that while DeNiro’s Cady is an all-out psychopath bordering on Satan, Mitchum’s Cady is actually just a really, really mean guy. I don’t know which is scarier.

Peck puts in a solid performance although he appears quite wooden at times, in typical late-50’s, early-60’s acting style, as do the two women. Telly Savalas is as smooth as Greek oil, playing the private detective. The movie does drag on a bit and running time is substantial at 106 minutes, but you forget it all in the heart-pounding finale and in pretty much every scene where Cady insults, degrades and pretty much acts like an asshole to everyone around him. It’s definitely not as disturbing as the remake though, but it stands solid on both feet. If you are, like I am, a fan of Robert Mitchum and of old-school tough guys whose idea of a good time is drinking and smoking (Dean Martin, anyone?), then you’ll definitely want to stop by the video store, waddle your way through the teeny stuff and end up with this little number in your hands…
THE EXTRAS
"Feel suspense… suspense that grips your heart like a vise!”

“Feel fear… numbing, paralysing fear!”

This is the voice-over in the included theatrical trailer. It’s one of those strange early trailers with a bunch of clips and people screaming and a guy yelling the above voice-over really loud. The trailer’s actually pretty good although it looks like it was edited by Norman Bates. Also tossed in as a bonus is a set of production photographs. Lasting about 5 minutes, it's actually just a bunch of stills from the film mixed in with a bunch of clips from the movie. You get very few “candid” production shots, but you get a little section devoted to all the posters from the movie. A text of production notes is also included and while I usually get bored of these really quick, this one actually has some substance for a change. For example, I was surprised to find out that the British Board of Sensor wanted to give this film an X-rating after making 161 cuts. Wow…

A list of cast and filmmaker bios is also there, and they are the most detailed I’ve seen up to now on a DVD. It lists all the main players and even the supporting cast with pretty comprehensive bios and filmographies (proof that Mitchum is a real-life tough guy too). The final extra is a half-hour long “Making of” featurette. It’s just some chatting by Peck and director Thompson about the film and the actors and stuff. It’s pretty good but it’s a little long. I wish they had dug up an old interview with Mitchum or something. That would have rocked.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Good movie and solid DVD more than worthy of most DVD’s I’ve seen of films from that era. You definitely have to be into the older style movies to appreciate it though and if you’re a fan of Robert Mitchum, you definitely can’t pass this up. One of the most under-appreciated actors of the mid-century offers a stunning performance. I’m glad to add this to my collection. A great rental as well.
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