Movie Review Flashback- Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear‘ is a 1991 thriller directed by the great director Martin Scorsese. It is a remake of a 1962 movie and based on the John D. MacDonald 1957 novel, ‘The Executioners.’

North Carolina attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) lives in a mansion with his wife Leigh (Jessica Lange) and teenage daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis). He flirts with courthouse clerk Lori (Illeana Douglas). However, his life is turned upside down by a convicted rapist named Max Cady (Robert De Niro). Bowden represented him fourteen years earlier and Max is convinced that Sam intentionally scuffled his defense. Bowden admits to his mentor Tom Broadbent (Fred Dalton Thompson) that might be true. He begins haunting him and his family, evading Bowden’s attempts to scare him away. As the danger escalates, Sam and his family begin a desperate fight for survival.

Now I have not read the book so I cannot comment on that and I have no interest in comparing it to the original. I prefer to review this one on its own merits.

Scorsese is a master of his craft and this film definitely shows it. You feel the disturbing nature of Cady as the violence he shows against Sam continues to ramp up leading to the climactic battle at the titular Cape Fear. You feel the tension and it does not slow down one bit.

As for the cast, it is perfection. Everyone does an excellent job. Nick Nolte and De Niro shined in this movie. Their battle of wits is performed to perfection. Likewise, Juliette Lewis is brilliant as the angsty teen daughter. Her scene with De Niro when he pretends to be her drama teacher is one of the tensest and well-acted scenes that I have watched in this genre.

I do want to shout out Gregory Peck for his somewhat small role as Lee Heller. This was his final film role and as usual, he is brilliant. He like Robert Mitchum as police Lt. Elgart and Martin Balsam as a judge all were in the 1962 film. It was a nice nod from Scorsese.

Bottom line, Cape Fear is a brilliant thriller with an excellent cast. It keeps you hooked from start to finish and you will not be able to look away.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Strong violence, Disturbing images

FAVORITE QUOTE: My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: “Cape Fear”. When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.

Check out the trailer below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of The Astronaut’s Wife and When The Bough Breaks. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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This article has been updated from a previous version.


  1. […] Scorsese is a filmmaking genius and this is no different. The man clearly knows how to craft an incredible story and he does so here. The pacing, the scenery, the plot, the score, and the characters all pull you into this gangster world, yet somehow avoid glamorizing it. It shows the breakdowns, the blood, the betrayals, and the body count as you watch it all come together. […]

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