Cast & Crew
J. Lee Thompson
Following a 6-year imprisonment for committing a sadistic sex crime, Max Cady arrives in a small southern town to seek revenge on the man responsible for his conviction, counselor Sam Bowden. Although Cady makes no direct threats, it is apparent that he is after Sam's wife, Peggy, and his 12-year-old daughter, Nancy. Because he has broken no law, neither Sam nor the police are able to take any legal action against him. Consequently, Sam cannot prevent Cady from poisoning the family dog, menacing Nancy when she leaves school, and whispering obscenities to Peggy over the telephone. Furthermore, Cady refuses to be bribed or bullied out of town. Desperate, Sam decides to take the law into his hands and lay a trap for Cady. After hiding his wife and daughter in a houseboat on the Cape Fear River, he leaves town. He then secretly returns, hopeful that Cady has discovered the hiding place. The ruse works, and Cady arrives on the scene late one night. Following a furious struggle in the river, Sam overpowers Cady and once more is instrumental in sending him to prison.
J. Lee Thompson
Ray Gosnell Jr.
Waldon O. Watson
James R. Webb
Ernest B. Wehmeyer
Cape Fear (1962) - Cape Fear
Gregory Peck actually deserves the credit for casting Mitchum as Max Cady and taking the more low-key role of attorney Sam Bowden. After buying the rights to the John D. MacDonald novel, The Executioners, Peck reassembled several previous collaborators who had served him well in the past, namely J. Lee Thompson, who had just helmed the enormously successful war adventure, The Guns of Navarone (1961), producer Sy Bartlett and screenwriter James Webb. Initially, Rod Steiger and Telly Savalas were considered for the part of Cady but once Mitchum became a possibility, Peck pushed for his commitment. At first Mitchum didn't want to do the film but finally relented after Peck and Thompson delivered a case of bourbon to his home. His reply, "Ok, I've drunk your bourbon. I'm drunk. I'll do it."
For Mitchum, Cape Fear was a homecoming of sorts. Partially filmed in Savannah, Georgia, it marked the actor's return to a city where he had once been arrested for vagrancy and sentenced to hard labor on a chain gang. At the same time, Mitchum was still on probation from a previous charge of marijuana possession. The irony of playing an ex-con certainly wasn't lost on the actor; he had clashed with the law many times before and understood hard-bitten losers like Max Cady intimately. J. Lee Thompson recalled (in Lee Server's biography, Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care), "..when we had the violent scenes, he did work himself up. When he was playing one of those scenes he looked at you like he was going to kill you....There was a scene with Barrie Chase, where he's being very rough with her. And I had to stop filming at one or two points to let things cool down...Barrie Chase was frightened of him; I know that because she told me so. She admired him, as everyone did. But, you know, he made people frightened."
The most difficult scenes to shoot, however, were the climactic confrontations at the film's end when Cady closes in on Bowden and his family, hiding out in a houseboat on a remote part of the Cape Fear river. In Server's book, Thompson said that Mitchum "liked getting in the water and having that fight with Greg. I'm not too sure about Greg liking it, because he was on the receiving end. He had to be forced underwater, and Mitchum kept him under there for quite a long time. We devised a code so that Peck could come up if it was getting too much for him. But sometimes Mitchum overstepped the line. I mean, he was meant to be drowning Greg, and he really took it to the limit." His scenes with Polly Bergen, playing Bowden's terrorized wife, were equally intense and included one particularly disturbing bit of improvisation - Mitchum cracking raw eggs on the actress and smearing them over her breasts. The scene builds to Cady physically attacking Bowden's wife and, during the filming (according to Server), Mitchum ripped his hand open on a cabinet. Bergen recalled, "His hand was covered in blood, my back was covered in blood. We just kept going, caught up in the scene. They came over and physically stopped us."
The Production Code Administration still wielded power in the film industry in the early sixties and Cape Fear was certainly a cause for concern for them. After reviewing the film, suggestions were made to remove "1) All shots which concentrate on the middle part of the pursuer's body," 2) the line, "Nancy is getting to be almost as juicy as your wife," 3) the line, "I kept her busy for three days," and 4) the action of Cady kneeing a man in the groin." (From Gregory Peck: A Filmography by Molyneaux). The repeated use of the word "rape" was also substituted with "attack" but the film still encountered problems from the British censors who demanded 161 cuts! Cape Fear was finally released there shorn of six minutes of footage. Because of the film's disturbing nature, critical reviews were mixed. Brendan Gill of The New Yorker was especially appalled, writing, "It purports to be a thriller but is really an exercise in sadism, and everyone concerned with this repellent attempt to make a great deal of money out of a clumsy plunge into sexual pathology should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. What on earth is Gregory Peck doing in such a movie?" Yet, the film's claustrophobic sense of impending terror and Mitchum's mesmerizing performance are hard to dismiss lightly. Perhaps some critics complained because the filmmakers succeeded too well in unsettling their audience.
In 1991, Cape Fear was remade by director Martin Scorsese who scored a box-office hit with it. Luckily, Gregory Peck, who owned the property, finally made good on his initial investment (the 1961 version was only a modest success) plus he got to appear in a cameo role as a sleazy Southern lawyer (one critic wrote, "Mr. Peck might have been Atticus Finch's evil twin thirty years later.") Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, who also appeared in the 1961 version, also had bit parts. Although many people were impressed by Robert De Niro's portrayal of Max Cady as a Bible-quoting, Pentecostal lunatic - he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar - Mitchum's performance is still hard to top in terms of his imposing physicality and reptilian-like menace. Whereas De Niro's Cady is flamboyantly crazy, dressing up in drag or quoting from Popeye cartoons, Mitchum's killer is a more quietly unpredictable predator, suggesting countless, untold perversions lurking just beneath the surface, ready to erupt.
Producer: Sy Bartlett
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Screenplay: James R. Webb, John D. MacDonald (novel)
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Film Editing: George Tomasini
Art Direction: Robert Boyle, Alexander Golitzen
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Gregory Peck (Sam Bowden), Robert Mitchum (Max Cady), Polly Bergen (Peggy Bowden), Lori Martin (Nancy Bowden), Martin Balsam (Police Chief Dutton), Jack Kruschen (Dave Grafton).
BW-106m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jeff Stafford
Cape Fear (1962) - Cape Fear
TCM Remembers - J. Lee Thompson
TCM REMEMBERS J. LEE THOMPSON, 1914 - 2002
Oscar-nominated director J. Lee Thompson died August 30th at the age of 88. Though he worked in several genres, Thompson was best-known for his action films. Thompson was born in Bristol England on August 1, 1914. After graduating from college he became a playwright and it was the appearance of one of his plays on London's famous West End that got him noticed by the British film studio, Elstree. His first filmed script was The Pride of Folly in 1937 and others appeared sporadically until his career was side-tracked during the war when Thompson served in the RAF as a B-29 tail gunner. (He also reportedly worked as a dialogue coach on Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, 1939.) Thompson's directorial debut came in 1950 when he adapted his own play Double Error to the screen as Murder Without Crime. Throughout the decade he directed a variety of dramas and comedies until hitting it big in 1958 with Ice Cold in Alex (released in the US minus 50 minutes under the title Desert Attack). It was nominated for three BAFTAs and was enough of a commercial success that Thompson landed the film that made his career: The Guns of Navarone (1961). This enormous international hit snagged Thompson an Oscar nomination for Best Director. He immediately followed that with the original Cape Fear (1962) and his reputation was set. Though Thompson remained active almost three more decades he didn't reach that level again. He worked on Westerns (Mackenna's Gold, 1969), horror films (Eye of the Devil, 1967), literary adaptations (Huckleberry Finn, 1974) and others. During this time, Thompson directed two Planet of the Apes sequels but was kept most busy working with Charles Bronson, for whom he directed nine films. Thompson's last film was in 1989.
KATRIN CARTLIDGE, 1961 - 2002
The news of actress Katrin Cartlidge's death at the age of 41 has come as a shock. It's not just the age but the thought that even though Cartlidge was already a major actress--despite a slender filmography--she held out the promise of even greater work, a promise that so few artists of any type can make. "Fearless" is perhaps the word most often used to describe Cartlidge but emotions are never enough for an actor; much more is required. Director Mike Leigh said she had "the objective eye of an artist" while remarking on her "her deep-seated suspicion of all forms of woolly thinking and received ideas."
Cartlidge was born in London on May 15, 1961. Her first acting work was on the stage, in tiny independent theatres before she was selected by Peter Gill for the National Theatre. Cartlidge also worked as a dresser at the Royal Court where she later made one of her final stage appearances. She began appearing in the popular British TV series Brookside before making her first film in 1985, Sacred Hearts. A small role in the Robbie Coltrane-Rik Mayall vehicle Eat the Rich (1987) followed before Cartlidge had her first leading role in Mike Leigh's scathing Naked (1993).
Cartlidge never took a safe approach in her films. She told The Guardian that "I try to work with film-makers who I feel will produce something original, revealing and provoking. If something provokes a reaction, it's well worth doing." You can see this in her choice of projects. Before the Rain (1994) dramatized violence in Macedonia in the wake of the Yugoslavian break-up and made Cartlidge something of a star in the area. She appeared in Lars Von Trier's controversial look at redemption, Breaking the Waves (1996), Leigh's sharply detailed story of aging friends Career Girls (1997), as one of Jack the Ripper's victims in From Hell (2001), as a call girl trying to leave the business in Clair Dolan (1998) and in the Oscar-winning film about Bosnia-Herzegovina, No Man's Land (2001). Her last work included a BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment (2002), playing Salvador Dali's wife Gala in the BBC comedy-drama Surrealissimo (2002) and an appearance in Rosanna Arquette's directorial debut, Searching for Debra Winger (also 2002), a documentary about women in the film industry.
Cartlidge died September 7th from septicaemia brought on by pneumonia.
TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002
The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television.
Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts.
His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970).
Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said.
By Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers - J. Lee Thompson
TCM Remembers - Jack Kruschen
Jack Kruschen (1922-2002)
He may have not been a household name, yet his career consisted of over seventy-five films, spanned over six decades, and displayed a strong versatility in playing either dramatic or comic roles with equal effectiveness. He was the definitive, "I can't quite remember the name, but I remember the face" character player who enlivened many films with his robust frame, cherubic face and infectious smile. His name was Jack Kruschen, a superb performer who died on April 2, 2002 at the age of 80, leaving behind a strong body of work that was impressive as any character actor of his generation.
Kruschen was born on March 20, 1922 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The son of a watchmaker who later set up shop in Hollywood, he was performing in an operetta at Hollywood high school when a talent scout for CBS radio discovered him. Kruschen was soon doing voice characterizations on popular network programs such as Dragnet, The Danny Thomas Show and Sam Spade. With his gift for dialects (he was most adept at playing ethnic types like Greeks, Yiddish or Italians - a skill finely honed in his radio days), Kruschen was a natural for the movies and soon made his film debut with a small role in the Betty Hutton comedy Red, Hot and Blue (1949).
Kruschen's early career is peppered with a variety of roles like a comical gangster in both Abbott & Costello Go to Mars (1953) and Money from Home (1953) starring Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin; a hard-nosed police detective in Confidence Girl (1952) and Julie (1956), an underrated Doris Day thriller; or doomed victims to alien prey in Sci-fi cult classics: the 1953 version of War of the Worlds (fans remember him as Salvatore, one of the first earthlings to be killed by the invading Martians) and The Angry Red Planet (1959). The roles offered steady work, but not much critical recognition. All that changed when Billy Wilder cast him in the key role as Jack Lemmon's bemused but caring neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss in The Apartment (1960). As the man who observes the steady stream of women in and out of Lemmon's apartment and the one who saves Shirley MacLaine from a drug overdose, Kruschen offered a wonderful performance - viewing his neighbor's proceedings with a jaundiced eye, yet never letting his disdain overtake his humor and humanity. He was justly rewarded with an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
From this point on, Kruschen was seldom out of work, appearing in over 40 films (including a terrific dramatic turn in the original Cape Fear (1962) as Dave Grafton, a corrupt southern bigot) and nearly 60 guest roles on television for the next two decades. Kruschen would later find fame toward the end of his career when he was cast as Papa Papadapolis in the hit sitcom Webster (1985-1987) and would show pleasant variations of the "kindly old codger" throughout the remainder of his career - like his final role in the romantic comedy 'Til There Was You (1997). His death in April this year may have gone largely unnoticed by the movie-going public, but for those of us who treasure the art of the character player, Kruschen's passing was a loss that is fortunately compensated by his strong body of work that will be enjoyed for fans of the late show for many years to come.
By Michael T. Toole
SIGNE HASSO, 1910-2002
Actress Signe Hasso died June 7th at the age of 91. She was best-known for starring in A Double Life (1947) but played numerous Europeans in films during the 1940s. Hasso was born on August 15, 1910 in Stockholm, Sweden and began acting on stage at the age of 13. Ten years later made her first film appearance as Signe Larsson. She was married in 1936 and adopted the last name of her husband, cinematographer and later director Harry Hasso. After a dozen Swedish films, Hasso moved to Hollywood in 1940 where her first screen appearance was an uncredited role in Journey for Margaret (1942). A brief stint at RKO didn't lead to any more promising film parts so Hasso concentrated on her stage career in New York City. Eventually, her film career became more active, thanks to a quick succession of roles, most notably in Fred Zinnemann's The Seventh Cross (1944), Douglas Sirk's A Scandal in Paris (1946) and Henry Hathaway's The House on 92nd Street (1945). However it was her portrayal of Ronald Colman's wife in the Oscar-favorite A Double Life that solidified her fame. But as Hasso continued to act on the stage and TV, her film work began to taper off. She appeared in high-profile thrillers like Crisis (1950), several made-for-TV movies, a few European productions and even the cult murder mystery, Bert Gordon's Picture Mommy Dead (1966). In 1972, the king of Sweden decorated Hasso for her work. Her final appearance was in a 2001 documentary about Greta Garbo.
HERMAN COHEN, 1927-2002
One of the key producers of B-movies, Herman Cohen, died June 2nd at the age of 76. Like most producers, his name wasn't generally known outside the industry or the realms of film buffs but most people never forget the titles of his films: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) and the not-quite-immortal Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952). Cohen was a Detroit native, born August 27, 1927. He entered the film business in the smallest possible way, as a 12-year-old janitor, often accepting passes for his family and friends instead of wages. Cohen served in the Marine Corps (several articles incorrectly say the Army) before becoming a publicist at Columbia Pictures. By 1951 he was working as a producer's assistant on low-budget independent films, mostly for Realart Pictures run by another Detroit native Jack Broder. Soon Cohen was producing his own movies, including Westerns and mysteries, until hitting big with the famous I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Starring a then-unknown Michael Landon (under personal contract to Cohen who later tore it up so Landon could appear in Bonanza), the film was made for $100,000 but in just a few months grossed over $2 million. Cohen didn't hestitate to turn out I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and Blood of Dracula by Thanksgiving of that same year and before long had made several films that continued to earn money for years to come. (One TCM writer remembers Horrors of the Black Museum turning up in a small Alabama town in the early 70s, over a decade after its initial release. The film is scheduled for a DVD release with a Cohen commentary from VCI Entertainment.) Cohen also made several films in England including The Headless Ghost (1959) and the cult favorite Konga (1961) where Cohen even paid RKO $25,000 for the rights to use the title King Kong in publicity for his own film. Cohen's later movies included a spaghetti Western and Joan Crawford's final acting role Trog (1970). In the 1980s Cohen ran a company, Cobra Media, that distributed some films and licensed material such as Teenage Werewolf to Landon for use in one of his Highway to Heaven episodes.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Jack Kruschen
I'm gonna' do something to you and your family that you ain't neva' gonna' forget.- Max Cady
Polly Bergen suffered minor bruises in a scene where her character struggles with Robert Mitchum's character. He was supposed to drag her through various doors on the set, but a crewmember mistakenly left all those doors locked, so that when Mitchum forced Bergen through the doors, she was actually being used as a ram to push them open.
J. Lee Thompson originally wanted Hayley Mills to play Nancy Bowden, but Mills couldn't because she was contracted to Walt Disney.
Juliette Lewis was named 1st runner-up in the New York Film Critics Circle's voting for Best Supporting Actress of 1991. Freddie Francis was also named 1st runner-up in the category of Best Cinematography.
Released in United States 2000
Released in United States March 1979
Released in United States on Video May 14, 1996
Released in United States Spring April 12, 1962
Shown at benefit premiere for Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City November 6, 1991.
Shown at Berlin Film Festival (in competition) February 13-24, 1992.
Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Neo Noir" February 18 - April 6, 2000.
Remake of "Cape Fear" (USA/1962) directed by J Lee Thompson and written by James R Webb.
Released in United States 2000 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Neo Noir" February 18 - April 6, 2000.)
Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty MovieMarathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)
Released in United States Spring April 12, 1962
Released in United States on Video May 14, 1996
Gregory Peck, who played Sam Bowden in the 1962 original plays Lee Heller in Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake. Robert Mitchum, who played Max Cady in the original, is seen as Lieutenant Elgart. Martin Balsim, who played Mark Dutton, is seen in the role of the Judge.
Began shooting November 19, 1990.
Completed shooting March 17, 1991.
The first film in Martin Scorsese's six-film production deal with Universal Pictures, and his first project in Panavision.
Elmer Bernstein adapted and rearranged Bernard Herrmann's orginal score.
Re-made in 1992, directed by Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange in the title roles.