Wednesday, January 15, 2014

***Out In The American Psycho 1960s Night- Robert Mitchum’s Cape Fear


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Cape Fear, starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Polly Bergen,  1962     

No question over the past year or so I have been on something of a Robert Mitchum tear. Something about his abilities as a strong male actor of the old type who could also be gentle struck a chord. Of course it all started with a look at his classic noir film, Out Of The Past, where trigger-happy Jane Greer was leading him around by the nose, and gangster Kirk Douglas too. In that one he was trying to do the right thing at the end although all it got him was a couple of slugs, maybe more, who knows when dear Jane had her shooting habits on, for his efforts. In the film under review, 1962s Cape Fear, Brother Mitchum is the antithesis of that early role and nothing but a stone-cold killer bad guy and killer if anything got in his way.

And it did. Seems good old boy Max Cady (Mitchum) had some scores to settle with one Attorney Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck)  whom had been central in sending Max up for eight years after foiling a rape attempt committed and being the prime witness against him in court. Max also had a long and vicious memory, had spent his time up in stir plotting night and day the “appropriate” way to gain revenge against Sam. So Max became Sam’s biggest nightmare since his plan was to wreck Sam’s family, attempt to violate his wife and barely teenage daughter-actually in the end just the daughter- to atone for the loss of his own family and his own sense of manhood once he got sent to stir.

The plot revolved around the psychological terror Max tried to create to make Sam do something rash and to strike fear into that daughter victim. And Max was aware that his actions, which fell just calculatedly short of illegal, would have that effect. This is one hombre that you do not want to mess around with-like somebody said Max was “an animal.” This portrayal of human evil by Mitchum is light years more scary than his devilish role in The Night Of The Hunter. This black and white film with its menacing shadows is the standard for this film filled with more suspense than the 1991 remake when the violence dominated the plot.                 



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