a/perture Cinema, Barnard Hermann, Cape Fear, Elmer Berntstein, Gregory Peck, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Martin Balsam, Martin Scorsese, Netflix, Nick Nolte, Robert Di Niro, Robert Mitchum, Steven Spielberg, The Less Desirables
Per IMDb: “A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year
sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.”
Max Cady (De Niro) has gotten out of jail after 14 years of hard time due to him brutally raping a 16-year old girl. He was illiterate and simple before prison, all of the court proceedings had to be read to him. However, while in jail, he learned to read. Starting with simple books but building up to law books. He learned a lot. He learned how to lie on his parole forms and representing himself during the appeals.
Another thing he learned, was that his defense attorney, Sam Bowden (Nolte), buried info that would have reduced Cady’s sentence or even gained him an acquittal. Sam was appalled by the brutality of the rape and while she had been promiscuous, he didn’t think she deserved that (which, of course, she didn’t), but it was his job to defend his client or bow out to allow for another attorney.
Max starts stalking Sam, even killing the family dog, harassing his wife Leigh (Lange) and getting obsessed about the Bowden’s 15 year old daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis). The movie has a very climactic ending which, of course, I’ll not tell you about. You have to watch to see how all of it goes down.
This is a Martin Scorsese film, which marked the seventh collaboration with De Niro. Steven Spielberg was going to make it but thought it was a bit too violent for his tastes, so he “traded” it with Scorsese to get Schindler’s List back after Marty decided he didn’t want to make it anymore. It’s a violent film, a true thriller from start to finish, well, okay about 10 minutes in to finish.
Scorsese channeled his inner Hitchcock for this film, for sure. I researched the score and found it was the same one as the original Bernard Hermann version from the 1962 film, but it was conducted by Elmer Bernstein (who in his own right was a legendary composer). Also making appearances from the 1962 version? The film’s stars. That’s right, Gregory Peck, who played the protagonist, then, plays Cady’s new attorney; Robert Mitchum who played the antagonist, plays a cop who suggests that perhaps Bowden uses alternative methods to rid himself of the “Cady problem;” and Martin Balsam who plays a police officer in the original, plays the judge hearing a restraining order case in this version. I think that’s cool.
I watched the film back in the mid-90s but was a young and careless man at the time, I’m old, now (probably still careless) and paid a bit more attention this time around. Not that I didn’t back then, just wasn’t as into it. I think a girl wanted to see it or something. Anywhat, I thought it was exciting and I was enthralled. I thought while there weren’t really any plot twists, you did perhaps get thrown off a few times or surprised when things happened. At least I was.
Max Cady seems a bit of a combo of psychotic, hell-bent on revenge and religious zealot all rolled up in one package. I was wondering why that sounded familiar to me. I had seen the original and that character wasn’t the same as this. The theme, upon reading, was derived from the original but also Scorsese draws from the character Harry Powell, from 1955’s The Night of the Hunter, which also (probably not incidentally) stars Robert Mitchum, who follows kids that may be onto his murdering ways down a river. I didn’t give anything away about it, but there’s a river scene. I think it was cool that Scorsese paid homage to that film, which was set in my my home state of West Virginia. De Niro was terrifying as Max Cady.
The film got De Niro and Juliette Lewis Academy Award nods for Best Actor and Supporting Actress respectively. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 76% Fresh with an Audience score of 77%. IMDb has it at 7.3 stars out of 10. I watched the film on Netflix and rate it 4.25 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you want to read/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I don’t know whether to look at him or read him.” – Lieutenant Elgart