What's new

Why Scorsese's Cape Fear is a reflection of our society:Cape Fear 91 vs. Cape Fear 62 (1 Viewer)


Senior HTF Member
Jul 28, 2001
When I first saw the original Cape Fear (about 3/4 years ago on VHS) I was REALLY REALLY disappointed, having seen the remake some time before: The ending was such an anti-climax - the exact opposite of the remake, which was slightly OTT in my opinion - and the resolution so unsatisfying given the antagonist's character (Robert Mitchum). Its certainly a well made film, and a well told tale. But it was just so simple. For this reason, it was soooooo right for a modern retelling. In a sense, Cape Fear was a movie that couldn't be told properly back in 1962 because of the censorship issues of the time, and the requirements of a B film at the time. Scorsese's remake takes everything that was over-simplified in the original (everything), and gives it a complex, necessary revision. Adding kinetic camerawork and expert editing, building the tension that was somewhat lacking in the original.
A contemporary audience watching the original film, just wouldn't be on the edge of their seat: because the line which films have to cross to horrify or scare you has (arguably) somewhat changed over the last 30-40 years! Knowing full well that no (on screen) blood shed, torture or horror would be coming, a modern audience just wouldn't be able to enter into the emotional arc of the film.
Now in the remake, not only will an audience be unknowingly disturbed by the underlying psychological perversions (of all of the characters), but while watching, there is a high degree of tension - both due to Scorsese's techniques (and knowledge of what he has done before), and because you are made to believe in Cady's capabilities for evil. Having De Niro vary his performace from slight wacko, to charming yet deadly anti-hero, to all out nut, gives the audience triple the capacity to feel simpathy and pity and repulsion for the characters he is tormenting: Sam is a flawed individual - unlike Gregory Peck in the original, who prosectuted the wrong and won - Nick Nolte is the defender of the wrong - and is losing both in his professional and domestic life. Just as the original reflected the seeming idylic bliss of 50s/early 60s domestic America, the remake demonstrates that such a simple world could never have existed, and gives us an alternate portrait of 90s family life.
The perfect remake, and possibly, suitable for another retelling in another 40 years, when the intellectual basis for a family has morphed again!
I know none of this is new regarding the remake vs. the old, but I just felt like bringing it up for discussion, in light of the excellent DVD re-issues!


Second Unit
Mar 3, 2001
There is a lot about the remake that is over the top in my opinion. The scene where Cady bites off the lady's face for instance. I think the scene would have been better, if not just as disturbing without the bite. To me it seemed somehow out of place but I cannot fully describe my initial reaction to it. While I like this movie and recently added it to my collection (a wonderful audio and video transfer by the way), I find it to be cartoonish in some respects. The casting of the daughter is the one thing that bothers me the most. I cant remember her name this second but she drives me nuts in every movie she is in, continually playing the same dumb character.
Zed's Dead Baby...
[Edited last by Brian_J on October 26, 2001 at 11:36 PM]

Roby Adams

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 30, 1999
Juliette Lewis.
I thought that Cape Fear was the best work she's done so far. The scene in the auditorium is amazing.
The original film is basically a 'B' movie. So is the '91 version. I think it was MS's attempt all along. Watch the documentary and he talks about it.
Originally Cape Fear was to be a Spielberg/DeNiro project but Steven passed after a while to do other things. He then sent it to Martin Scorcese who had it re-written to suit his tastes. MS really wanted to try and make a big studio movie and since he owed one to Universal for some financing they did on "The Last Temptation of Christ" he decided to do it.
Although there are some good performances in the original I think the '91 version is far better. It isn't perfect or Scorcese's best but it is entertaining and a lot better than a lot of Hollywood machine crap.
200 and 40 dollars worth'a puddin'
[Edited last by Roby Adams on October 27, 2001 at 06:19 PM]


Senior HTF Member
Aug 20, 2000
---Knowing full well that no (on screen) blood shed, torture or horror would be coming, a modern audience just wouldn't be able to enter into the emotional arc of the film.----
If this is true, what does it say about the modern movie going public and society in general?

Users who are viewing this thread

Sign up for our newsletter

and receive essential news, curated deals, and much more

You will only receive emails from us. We will never sell or distribute your email address to third party companies at any time.

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks