[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Cape_fear_91_9159.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[[SeanConneryIsAboutToShootYou Robert De Niro Is Staring Into Your Soul.]]]]

'''''Cape Fear''''' is a 1962 film directed by J. Lee Thompson. It tells the story of Sam Bowden (GregoryPeck), a lawyer whose family is threatened by a convicted rapist. The rapist, Max Cady (Robert Mitchum), wants vengeance for having been imprisoned on Bowden's testimony after the latter witnessed him attempting to rape a woman. After a lengthy game of cat and mouse between the two, Bowden takes his family to their houseboat on Cape Fear, hoping to set a trap for Cady that will lead to his re-imprisonment. Needless to say, this does not go as planned.

The film was remade in 1991 by director Creator/MartinScorsese, with Nick Nolte and Creator/RobertDeNiro portraying Bowden and Cady. De Niro and Creator/JulietteLewis received AcademyAward and Golden Globe nominations for their performances. In this version, Cady is out to get Bowden because the latter, while defending Cady on a rape charge, allowed possibly-exculpatory evidence about the victim to remain secret, leading to Cady's conviction.

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!! Both films contain examples of:
* AdultFear: Rape in both versions, moral corruption (Cady seducing Danielle and basically trying to get Sam to kill him) in the remake.
* AxCrazy: Max Cady.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: The novel was written by John D. [=MacDonald=].
* IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace: [[TitleDrop Cape Fear]].
* RageAgainstTheLegalSystem: Cady's vendetta against Bowden is because he was responsible to put him in jail (because he was a key witness in the 1962 version, and because he decided ([[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil somewhat justifiably]] morally, if not ''legally'') to commit some slip-ups on the defence in the remake).
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil
* RemakeCameo: GregoryPeck and Robert Mitchum both play supporting roles in the remake.
* ScarpiaUltimatum
* SocietyMarchesOn: Today, stalking laws would go a long way to hinder someone like Cady. Rape laws now ban the use of the victims' sexual history in court.
* WouldHitAGirl: Max Cady.

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!! The 1991 remake contains examples of:
* AmoralAttorney: Gregory Peck's cameo as Cady's lawyer. Also Bowden dipped his toe into the pool in the backstory, purposefully bungling Cady's defence.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: Cady is a fundamentalist Pentecostal Christian and often quotes the Bible with wide-eyed furor.
* BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon: When Sam sees the bodies of [[spoiler:Kersek and the maid]], he loses it and totally messes up the crime scene including touching the murder weapon (gun).
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Sure, Cady is a convicted rapist, but Bowden is corrupt and philandering. Bowden's slide into HeWhoFightsMonsters is brought on in part because he tries to bend the law fighting Cady.
* CastingGag: Gregory Peck in his aforementioned role.
* ChekhovsGun: [[spoiler:The piano wire, the gun, and the lighter fuel. Also, Cady's handcuffs.]]
* CompositeCharacter: Robert De Niro's Cady combines the original with another famous villain played by Robert Mitchum; SinisterMinister [[Film/TheNightOfTheHunter Harry Powell.]]
* ComeOutComeOutWhereverYouAre
* DateRape: Cady's encounter with Lori ends up this way.
* ExiledToTheCouch: Presented as a GilliganCut. After a quarrel with his wife about his infidelity, Sam invokes their team work. Zoom upon his wife's face. Cut. Sam with a blanket on the couch.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Cady.
* FeetFirstIntroduction: Used for the introduction of the latin maid.
* ForgottenTrope: Viewers can be somewhat mystified by the premise for why antagonist Max Cady (RobertDeNiro) felt slighted by protagonist Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). At the time of release, the prior sexual history of a rape victim was a valid defense that would have lessened Cady's sentence, or might have even kept him out of jail. Nowadays, prior sexual history is inadmissable in rape cases.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: From an illiterate rube rapist to a buff, law-degree-holding, DangerouslyGenreSavvy homicidal bastard with a liking for teenage girls.
* TheFundamentalist: Cady and Heller (Cady's attorney)
* GeniusBruiser: Cady is both in exceptionally good shape and terrifyingly smart.
** He studied law in prison, becoming a lawyer, even acting as his own defense during his appeals, so he knew when and how to harass the Bowdens.
* HellholePrison: Cady doesn't stop telling Sam all about it.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: In the end this was what Cady was counting on Sam to do, whether he succeeded in hurting his family or not. To make it even more scary, we see Sam growling and snarling at Cady when he fights him.
* HumanNotepad: Cady has lines from the bible tattooed all over his body.
* {{Improv}}: Robert De Niro and Illeana Douglas's (Sam's collegue) scenes were improvised.
* IronicEcho: In a meta-sense; where Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum played the upstanding lawyer and the sadistic rapist in the original, their cameo roles in the remake essentially place them on the opposite sides, with Mitchum playing a police detective sympathetic to Bowden's plight and Peck playing Cady's attorney.
** Peck stated in an interview that he was offered a few different roles to make a cameo as, and immediately asked for the least sympathetic one.
* JerkassHasAPoint: Though a wholly unpleasant character, Cady does have a point about Sam, who violated his professional and ethical duty as a defense attorney by burying crucial evidence which may have earned his client a lesser sentence or even acquittal.
* JumpScare: One of them happens when the phone rings during dinner. Actually, the ringer was loud...
* LargeHam: De Niro, in fine form. It's taken UpToEleven after [[spoiler: Cady is set on fire.]]
* MadeOfIron: Max gets beaten on for quite a while by some thugs, but as soon as he gets a weapon away from one of them, he takes them all down with ease. Later, Danielle throws some boiling water in his face, and he doesn't even blink. Grasping a lit roman candle didn't faze him, either.
* MenacingStroll: Cady, even when he's released from prison, even walking into the camera.
* MoodWhiplash: One minute, Lori (Bowden's friend, may have been an ex-lover) is giddy and flirtatious, she's screaming in terror the next.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Bowden should have never consented to the thugs beating Cady up. That only made Cady go off the rails.
* NoodleIncident: [[YourCheatingHeart Both Bowdens' past infidelities]], requiring therapy and forcing them to move. Leigh suspected Lori and Sam were having an affair, thus explaining some phone conversation in hushed tones (actually, he was checking on her after Cady attacked her).
* ObfuscatingDisability: When the judge granted the restraining order against Bowden, Cady hobbled right out of court in crutches.
* OfficeGolf: Kersek is shortly seen golfing in his office.
* PoliceAreUseless: When Bowden suspects that Cady is stalking him, the first thing he does is go to the police, but they can't do anything because they lack any evidence of wrongdoing. The one [[GenreSavvy helpful cop]] (played by Robert Mitchum) suggests using his family as bait. Bowden doesn't care for the implications.
* PrisonsAreGymnasiums: Cady leaves prison well-shaped.
* PrisonRape: Cady's quip about "being a woman" and getting in touch with his own "soft, nurturing side, his feminine side" when Sam Bowden tried to buy him off.
* ProfessionalWrestling: There wasn't any of it in the movie, but Wrestling/{{WWE}} based the short lived Waylon Mercy character on De Niro's portrayal of Cady, and over a decade later Bray Wyatt.
* RemakeCameo: The remake featured cameos by Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, the hero and antagonist (respectively) of the original.
** Also, Martin Balsam, who played the sympathetic cop role in the original, plays a judge in the remake.
* {{Revenge}}: Cady's lust for revenge against Bowden fuels the plot and hits a lot of RevengeTropes.
** BestServedCold
** BuyThemOff: Bowden offers Cady $10,000 in cash to leave him alone. He doesn't take it.
** RevengeByProxy: Bowden's MO is to brutalize and/or kill people close to Bowden to teach him the meaning of loss.
*** ForcedToWatch
*** RevengeThroughCorruption: Cady gets his hooks in Bowden's daughter, almost seducing her. Furthermore, his end goal was to turn Bowden into a killer.
*** Brought up by Cady in discussion with Sam about how his PrisonRape past could be properly retaliated.
* TattooedCrook: Max Cady.
* UndersideRide: Max Cady ties himself to the bottom Sam Bowden's car, causing the Bowden family to take him directly to the houseboat. This probably the most parodied element of the film.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: While it was highly unprofessional for Bowden to withhold evidence from the trial, it didn't excuse the fact that Cady had actually performed a brutal rape so Bowden felt Cady needed to serve the maximum sentence. Bowden defiantly points this out to Cady during the final confrontation. The nature of the evidence--the rape victim's sexual history--also helps with this, "shaming the victim" in such a sense being a particularly controversial defence in rape trials.
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!! The 1962 film contains examples of:
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Diane Taylor, who pays for it heavily.
* AmbulanceChaser: Cady's lawyer.
* AsYouKnow / LetMeGetThisStraight: Sam Bowden's plan to deal with Cady is helpfully exposited by his wife.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: The original film portrayed Robert Mitchum as pure evil, with absolutely no legitimate reason to begrudge his conviction and Gregory Peck as perfectly virtuous, not deserving of any retribution.
* BloodFromTheMouth
* CruelMercy: [[spoiler: Sam is in a position where he could easily kill Cady and get away with it, justifying it as being in fear for his life and that of his family. He instead lets him live, explaining in great detail how much Cady will enjoy his inevitable life sentence, being forced to wait for death in the prison he hated so much.]]
* DeliberatelyMonochrome
* DisproportionateRetribution
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Despite the overwhelming theme of sexual violence, the word "rape" is never used, nor does the dialogue get explicit. The closest the script comes is "attacked". This last case is fully justified, as the parents are discussing the possibility of Cady going after their daughter, and their tone makes it clear that they are consciously using a euphemism because they are trying to avoid thinking about their daughter getting raped.
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: Cady smokes Evil Cigars.
* GoryDiscretionShot / NothingIsScarier: When Cady attacks the girl at the hotel, her frantic grab at the door just pulls it shut, leaving only a narrow crack for the camera to see through.
* IronicEcho: Cady mentions that when he "visited" his ex-wife, she tried to hit him with a poker. Nancy later attempts to hold Cady off with a poker the same way.
* ManInWhite: Cady.
* NeverMyFault: Cady wants revenge because Bowden got him convicted, and seems completely oblivious to the fact that he fully deserved it. Also had this reaction when his life left him; not only was it cruel and unfair to him, but she only left him because Sam testified and got him in prison, not because he was caught raping someone.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Savalas' character hires three thugs to deal one out to Cady. It turns out to be a case of MuggingTheMonster.
* PrivateDetective: Telly Savalas.
* RulesLawyer: As in ''Film/ToKillAMockingbird'', Gregory Peck plays one of these. He still manages to be the good guy.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: Diane Taylor.
* ShirtlessScene: Cady has several, all played for the same kind of menace as a FullFrontalAssault.
* SmugSnake: Mitchum, to a T. That relaxed drawl of his is terrifying.
* [[spoiler: ThouShaltNotKill: Bowden decides life in prison is better than death for Cady.]]
* TranquilFury: Mitchum has this quiet but insistent animal terror underlying everything he does.
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