Caper Fear (1962)

“Cape Fear” (1962)



old vases

Remakes, or films which were remade are a good experience by this fact alone. If you’ve seen both, you can watch to films in parallel, and the reflexive film of imagining how the second film was made, what were the re-makers thinking. This is how i watched this one. I’ve seen Scorcese’s remake, before i saw this one, so from that moment i would never be able to watch this original isolated, where it stood on its own. I can only imagine.

Yet, i thought what would Scorcese be thinking. I think his intention was no other than a matter of updating, and fulfilling the hinting that this original version opened. Everything was more graphical and visceral by 1991, of course, so Scorcese updated the violence, and showed what audiences were only prepared to be hinted at in 1960. But the big thing Scorcese did was to introduce the sexual tension between Max Cady and the daughter. Juliette Lewis really makes an impression. In this original we have the sexual lust by Mitchum’s character, but it is one sided, a pure attraction of a filthy mind to a innocent child. And this is basically the point:

in this old version everything is a matter of good-evil. It’s a poorer approach (even the reasons for the vengeance are less dubious than the Scorcese’s version). Well, even the actors are less flexible than what is required of a good modern actor. Peck and Mitchum were both artistically born to a cinema where “character” was something that was part of their public personalities as “stars” as well as of his characters. So their acting in itself is wooden, and very limited. They are there to show off their public characters. So for instance, if you take Mitchum’s character, he is not trying to convince the audience of a certain kind of sophisticated meanness. Instead he is giving us a scent of bad roughness, while he tries to be himself: the rough seductive “man”. Peck has his life more easy, we are supposed to like him so he just has to be himself.

This is a film that lost the ambiguities and moral quests of the original film-noir, but which has not yet develop to a new stage, that includes modern acting (the Brando effect didn’t apply to these fellows) and novel ways to build narrative. So to me, it sounds just outdated, and i don’t connect to it.

My opinion: 2/5

This comment on IMDb


3 Responses to “Caper Fear (1962)”

  1. 1 fozzymandias April 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    You may or not be aware of this:

  2. 2 fozzymandias April 28, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Just realized that, as a non-native English speaker, you may not be able to decipher the creator’s Liverpool accent. Here is the text version:

  3. 3 ruiresende May 2, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks a lot, very useful the links you gave me, and yes, i couldn’t decipher the accent.

    thank you

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