Cape Fear

1991

Cape Fear

Critics Consensus

Smart and stylish, Cape Fear is a gleefully mainstream shocker from Martin Scorsese, with a terrifying Robert De Niro peformance.

73%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 49

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 68,635
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Cape Fear Photos

Movie Info

A remake of the 1962 version, this nail-biting and brutal thriller tells the story of a vengeful ex-con who sets out to ruin the lawyer who sent him to prison for committing a series of rapes 14 years before. The plot is based on a story by John D. MacDonald. Look carefully and see cameo appearances by a few stars from the original version.

Cast

Nick Nolte
as Sam Bowden
Jessica Lange
as Leigh Bowden
Juliette Lewis
as Danielle Bowden
Joe Don Baker
as Claude Kersek
Robert Mitchum
as Lt. Elgart
Gregory Peck
as Lee Heller
Illeana Douglas
as Lori Davis
Fred Dalton Thompson
as Tom Broadbent
Zully Montero
as Graciella
Craig Henne
as Prisoner
Forest Burton
as Prisoner
Rod Ball
as Prisoner
W. Paul Bodie
as Prisoner
Joel Kolker
as Corrections Officer
Antoni Corone
as Corrections Officer
Tamara Jones
as Ice Cream Cashier
Roger Pretto
as Racquetball Colleague
Parris Buckner
as Racquetball Colleague
Margot Moreland
as Secretary
Robert L. Gerlach
as Arresting Officer
Bruce E. Holdstein
as Arresting Officer
Richard Wasserman
as Parade Watcher
Paul Nagle Jr.
as Parade Watcher
Paul Froehler
as Parade Watcher
Mary Ellen O'Brien
as Parade Watcher
Jody Wilson
as Parade Watcher
Jodie Wilson
as Parade Watcher
Kate Colburn
as Waitress
Domenica Cameron-Scorsese
as Dani's Girlfriend
Garr Stevens
as 1st Big Man
Billy Lucas
as 2nd Big Man
Ken Collins
as 3rd Big Man
Linda Perri
as Ticket Agent
Elizabeth Moyer
as Ticket Agent
Catherine Scorsese
as Fruit Stand Customer
Charles Scorsese
as Fruit Stand Customer
Chad Dowdell
as Jim (uncredited)
Jackie Davis
as Jimmy the Dockmaster
View All

News & Interviews for Cape Fear

Critic Reviews for Cape Fear

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (13)

  • The wrath of De Niro, especially when pitched to the level of a jangle-brained Jehovah, is a mighty thing, but, in this case, its inherent cartoonery capsizes this film's small-story frame.

    Nov 18, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It gives you a pumped-up, thrill-happy ride (assuming you have a stomach for violent pulp) but it doesn't linger in the mind as Scorsese's richest movies do. It's a swell B movie dressed in haute cinematic couture.

    Feb 7, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • It's hard to understand why Martin Scorsese wanted to remake a nasty, formulaic 1962 thriller whose only "classic" credentials are a terrifying performance by Robert Mitchum and a Bernard Herrmann score.

    May 24, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Smart and stylish.

    Aug 7, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Overblown horror-schlocker.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Stay away if you're squeamish but, if you do, you'll miss an essential work by one of our masters, as well as two of the year's most accomplished performances, those of Mr. De Niro and Ms. Lewis.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5

Audience Reviews for Cape Fear

  • Jul 10, 2016
    Cape Fear was a great suspense/horror film that stands the test of time. De Niro provides a very creepy performance that leaves you feeling dreadful whenever he is on screen. This is assisted by the magnificent score that really adds to the tension. Nolty gives a solid performance as well as the "Leave it to Beaver" esque role he is portraying. My only negative for the movie is the run time. The final act seems to really drag on about twenty minutes too long. All of the tension of the movie has boiled up to a big dramatic ending, and this ending starts to really take care of things, but does meander a bit. Excellent choice for fans of suspenseful movies.
    Hayden B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2016
    DeNiro plays a convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a 14 year sentence, and stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him (Nolte). DeNiro definitely earned his Oscar nomination for this one and if Silence of the Lambs hadn't been released the same year, he would have won. He turns in a haunting performance as Max Cady and definitely pushes the film along. Great film and very effective suspense all around.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 20, 2016
    I have no idea why people like this film so much. It's absolutely terrible, and De Niro does some of the most unconvincing acting of his career in this film.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • May 20, 2015
    Skin crawlingly creepy, De Niro's Max Cady is the only part that truly stands out in Scorsese's '91 remake of Cape Fear. But he stands out *so much* that it alone makes it worth watching. The couple of innovative stalking moments and supporting cast members Juliette Lewis and Jessica Lange didn't blow me away, but were still enough to kick it up another level.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer

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