Cape Fear [1962]

Superior to Martin Scorsese's punishing 1991 remake, this 1962 thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone) stars Robert Mitchum as a creepy ex-con angry at the attorney (Gregory Peck) whom he believes is responsible for his incarceration. After Mitchum makes clear his plans to harm Peck's family, a fascinating game of crisscrossing ethics and morality takes place. Where the more recent version seemed trapped in its explicitness, Thompson's film accomplishes a lot with a more economical and telling use of violence. The result is a richer character study with some Hitchcockian overtones regarding the nature of guilt. --Tom Keogh

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