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Cape Fear is a 1962 film about an attorney whose family is stalked by a criminal whom he helped to send to jail. It stars Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum as Max Cady, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas, Paul Comi and Barrie Chase. It was adapted by James R. Webb from the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson, and released on April 12, 1961.

Peck acquired the rights to Cape Fear, he was originally attached to the project as a producer, not an actor. However, he was sought for the role of antagonist Max Cady by the studios. Peck, who initially did not consider acting in the film, agreed to appear but was so against playing a villain at the time that he steadfastly refused the part. He went on to say that he felt audiences would not accept him playing a ruthless character so he instead sought the role of the hero.

When approached to play the villain, Mitchum turned down the role. Convinced Mitchum would still make the perfect Cady, Thompson and Peck sent him a bottle of bourbon. A couple of days later, Mitchum sent a telegraph to Thompson, which read: "I've had your bourbon. I'm drunk. I'll do it."

Thompson had always envisioned the film in black and white prior to production. Being a Hitchcock fan, he wanted to have Hitchcockean elements in the film, such as unusual lighting angles, an eerie musical score, closeups of serious faces, and indicating very little of the violence that Cady has in mind for the family.

The outdoor scenes were filmed first on location in Savannah, Georgia. The indoor scenes and Cape Fear, North Carolina scenes were done at Universal studios. Robert Mitchum had a real-life aversion to Savannah, where as a teenager he had been charged with vagrancy and put on a chain-gang.

The scene where Mitchum attacks Polly Bergen's character on the houseboat was almost completely improvised. Before the scene was filmed, the director suddenly asked a crew member: "Bring me a dish of eggs!" Mitchum rubbing the eggs on Bergen was not scripted and Bergen's reactions were real. She also suffered back injuries from being knocked around so much. She felt the impact of the 'attack' for days.

there was a continuous threat of sexual assault on a child". In order to be accepted, British censors required extensive editing and deleting of specific scenes. After making 161 cuts, it still nearly garnered an X rating.

In April 2007, Newsweek selected Robert Mitchum's character as one of the ten best villains in cinema history. Cape Fear was also #36 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its famous scene where Max Cady attacks Sam's family.

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review by . December 20, 2008
posted in Screen Gems
Robert Mitchum in his unforgettable role as ex-con Max Cady.
The original 1962 version of "Cape Fear" just has to be one of the creepiest films I have ever seen.  An ex-con by the name of Max Cady (portrayed by Robert Mitchum) turns up to wreak havoc for the man who testified against him and sent him to prison for eight and a half years.  Cady is no dummy.   No sir.   He spent virtually all of his time in prison learning the law and plotting to get even with his accuser Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck).  He begins turning …
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