Thursday, September 2, 2010

#72 - Cape Fear - 1991

The 2nd movie I decided to watch this week was the 1991 thriller Cape Fear. Easily one of the most terrifying and suspenseful ones on this weeks list I was looking forward to seeing this again since it had been a long time since I have seen it. I actually saw this film on its opening weekend in the theater while in SD at a baseball tournament back in November of 1991 and to this day I remember how scary and frightening this movie was, especially on the big screen. Below is my detailed review.

This is actually a remake of original which was done back in 1962 and I'd be really interested to see how that film compared to this one. The two main actors in that film were actually cast in small parts in this one too which was kind of funny. They were Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. The cast for this film was excellent. Robert DeNiro stars as Max Cady, Nick Nolte as Sam Bowden whose wife Leigh is played by Jessica Lange and daughter Danielle is played by Juliette Lewis. Fred Thompson also had a role as Tom Boradbent and Jon Don Baker played Claude Kersek. The cast for this film was so important because this film was character driven in my mind. The performances by the actors for this film were phenomenal and we were treated to one of the best performances by a villain in a movie ever in the history of cinema in my mind.

Let me talk briefly about what could have been for a second. The director, Martin Scorsese had originally wanted Harrison Ford to play Sam Bowden and it was even rumored that he went as far to have DeNiro call Ford to try and convince him to take the role. Ford didn't and Nolte was offered the role. A whole slew of actresses were either offered, auditioned, or considered for the role of Danielle which Juliette Lewis ended up getting and some of them were Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster, Nicole Eggert, Christina Applegate, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Jennifer Connely, Winona Ryder, Alyssa Milano, Meg Ryan, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tiffani Amber Thiessen. I personally loved all the actors in this film however I would have loved to see how a Cape Fear with Harrison Ford as Sam Bowden and Alyssa Milano as Danielle Bowden would have worked out. I think that would have been great!

Speaking of characters and phenomenal performances I have to take a paragraph to speak about Robert DeNiro's performance as Max Caddy in this film. In one word it was Brilliant! I cannot see any other character in this role pulling off such a spectacular performance like DeNiro did. The southern drawl, the attitude, the viciousness, and the pure mindset of this monster of a character that DeNiro embraced so incredibly was absolutely amazing. He literally stole every single scene he was in and was a pleasure to watch in this film. He was so good at being so bad at one point in the film I had to stop myself and think for a second, this is Mr. Focker right? Just brilliant in every way, shape, and form and like I said before easily one of the greatest performances of a villain in cinematic history. It was that good!!

This film had some very intense scenes throughout and very memorable ones and below is a list of some of the ones that were my favorite. The scene where the Bowden's are trying to enjoy a movie but Max continually laughs aloud while puffing smoke in the air was very important to the film because it first introduced us to the type of obnoxious character Max Cady was going to be. Before that we only saw his built and buff tattooed physique while at prison before he was released but we had no idea what he was even in for. A short time later we Max and Sam meet for the first time in the film and it is quite evident that they knew each other in the past and that there was history between them. This first conversation where Max ends up saying "your going to learn my loss" really paints the picture for this film and indicates right from the beginning that this man might just be dangerous.

A scene that was quite vital to the film in showing us the viciousness of Max Caddy was when he met Lori, Sam's co-worker and brutally raped and assaulted her. This really showed the type of guy Cady was and how dangerous he really could be. Not a "favorite" scene of mine per say but an important one to the film. Another scene that was quite creepy and uneasy to watch was the one where Max poses as Danielle's drama teacher and meets her at the school auditorium. Very creepy and weird. In what was the scariest jump out of your seat moment of the film for me, at least when I saw it in the theater was when after Max killed the maid and Kersek comes into the kitchen at the Bowden's to get a drink we see Max standing behind him dressed up as the maid in a wig and all and brutally kills Kersek with a piano wire. This whole scene and the sequence that follows with Sam and his family coming down to see the crime scene and Sam himself slipping and falling in Kersek's blood is just crazy good.

After that takes place the film heads towards its final scenes which is out at Cape Fear and takes place on the Bowden's houseboat. One last battle ensues on the houseboat before Sam and his family finally escape Cady who ends up dying at the end of the film by drowning after Sam handcuffed him to a bar that was on the houseboat which eventually shred to pieces during the fight onboard. From the special effect burns to the dying singing mumbling Max Caddy the final sequence of this film was very dramatic, very theatrical, and very intense. It really brought the story to a conclusion and showed one families struggle to escape an evil that was out to get them and would not stop at anything before doing so.

As important as the characters were in this film the settings and backgrounds for this film were important as well. The city of New Essex, the home of the Bowden's with their extra large backyard with lush green weeping willow trees all around, and Cape Fear itself were all important to the film's flow. The final sequence of the film which takes place at Cape Fear makes for a perfect atmosphere for the climax of this film. It forces the family out onto the water secluded from everyone else and basically trapped. There is a creepy sense of danger once they get out onto the water and it is predictable to a point as to what will happen next but still this film ended pretty good.

I loved several scenes where the camera close-ups basically presented a visual that the actors was walking right through the screen. I saw this on several occasions throughout the film and that it was pretty cool. Not sure if this is a director trademark but I loved it. There are also a couple of quotes I thought were pretty cool as well. The one where Lt. Elgart (Mitchum) is looking at Max undressing in a police chamber and he sees all his tattoo's and says, "I don't know whether to look at him or read him". I also thought Max's line "come out come out wherever you are" after getting beaten up was pretty notable for this movie as well. These are always two lines from this film I always remember and enjoy. All in all Id have to say this is one of the better suspense thriller's I've ever seen and one I really really like. I am really glad I got to see this one on the big screen when it first came out too because there is just something much more scary about a film inside a packed dark theater. I would give this one a firm A!

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