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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cape Fear (1962)

After being released from prison for eight years, a sadistic psychopath (Robert Mitchum) begins terrorizing the family of the lawyer (Gregory Peck) he considers responsible for sending him to prison. While the police are helpless to do anything, the attorney takes matters into his own hands. Based on the novel THE EXECUTIONERS by John D. MacDonald and directed by J. Lee Thompson (GUNS OF NAVARONE). This is a killer of a thriller! Thompson's film is one of those movies where Hitchcock's influence hovers over the entire project. Perhaps not coincidentally many of Hitchcock's collaborators participated in the film: art director Robert F. Boyle (THE BIRDS), editor George Tomasini (VERTIGO) and composer Bernard Herrmann (PSYCHO). Thompson keeps a tight rein on the suspense and cinematographer Sam Leavitt's (EXODUS) evocative B&W lensing is rich with shadows and mood. But perhaps the most important element of CAPE FEAR is Mitchum's bone chilling performance. Using the less is more method, all Mitchum has to do is lower the lids over his cobra eyes and your blood runs cold. You just know the unspeakable horrors this monster is capable of!  Remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese. With Polly Bergen, Telly Savalas, Martin Balsam, Lori Martin, Jack Kruschen, Joan Staley and a terrific performance by Barrie Chase as one of Mitchum's victims.

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