Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cape Fear (1962)

Starring Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
(actor & director credits courtesy

A dangerous ex-convict stalks the lawyer whose testimony sent him to prison, driving him and his family on edge, convinced he's planning a violent revenge. 

Thompson delivers a great suspenseful thriller, with Mitchum echoing his psychopathic turn in The Night Of The Hunter in another memorable performance, as the clever and villainous Max Cady.  Based on John D. McDonald's novel, The Executioners, the film is not only well-directed by Thompson, but is highlighted by terrific photography by Samuel Leavitt and excellent editing by George Tomasini, augmenting Mitchum's creepy performance.  Bernard Herrmann's score is dark and atmospheric, and so cleverly used throughout the film.  A highlight is the scene in which Lori Martin, as Peck's young daughter, flees from Cady through an abandoned schoolhouse, and Herrmann's score fades in and out to showcase the sound of footfalls echoing closer and closer to her.  The unsettling undertones of the story are captured with palpable tension in this nightmarish film which for me is far more effective than Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake.

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