Favorite crime movie of the past thirty years?
Oh, how I love Cape Fear – the remake, not the 1962 original. (Yeah, everyone tells me the original is better. Know what? I’m not going to find out. I love the 1991 version and I don’t want to dilute my experience of it.)
As you might guess if you’ve been reading my posts, I like to experience things in an undiluted fashion. It’s not that I can’t appreciate subtlety – oh wait, maybe it is, actually.
Cape Fear is undiluted from go. Whatever the mood of the scene - smoldering, giddy, furious, resentful, ripe (and that's just in the first few minutes) - that mood is so big that it takes up every corner of the room.
This movie contains the single creepiest scene I’ve ever seen – when the terrifying psycho played by Robert DeNiro confronts an unsuspecting fourteen-year-old Danielle (played by Juliette Lewis) into the empty high school band room and engages her in a twisted seduction. The contrast of all that concentrated evil and Danielle’s pre-erotic innocence is absolutely chilling – and get this: that scene was totally ad-libbed by De Niro and Lewis, and done on the first take.
But even without that scene, this movie’s off-the-charts terrifying:
1. There’s that score. Evidently it borrows heavily from the original. Hell, if I had that to work with, I'd borrow heavily too. Those few aggressive french-horn-note (I think it's horns anyway) bars lay it out plain - trouble ahead.
2. Robert DeNiro…enough said, almost, except even I had forgotten how he prepared his body for that role...the hard-guy muscles that have nothing in common with pretty-boy posturing. He also did his own research...did he get into the role? Well, he's the one who suggested the biting scene, so I guess he did.
3. Jessica Lange doing her soft angsty southern chick thing…she perfectly captures a mature woman's rage sublimated under layers of frustrated ennui.
4. Really creative harassment techniques. The things DeNiro does to his targets are truly remarkable.
5. Dialog: raw. Unapologetic, even when it's heavy-handed.
Best part of the movie: DeNiro laughing and then speaking in tongues and then drowning - how can you argue that this isn't his finest role?
Worst part: Nolte. Can't stand that guy. Actor? Uh, if you say so.