Cape Fear (1962)
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This 1962 thriller is better than the Scorsese remake—above all for Robert Mitchum's chilling performance as a vengeful ex-con and an overall brute force in the crude story line—though it's arguably still some distance from deserving its reputation as a classic.
Technically, it's a good job. Mr. Webb has prepared a tough, tight script and Mr. Thompson has directed in a steady and starkly sinister style. There is no waste motion, no fooling. Everything is sharp and direct. Menace quivers in the picture like a sneaky electrical charge. And Mr. Mitchum plays the villain with the cheekiest, wickedest arrogance and the most relentless aura of sadism that he has ever managed to generate...But this is really one of those shockers that provokes disgust and regret. There seems to be no reason for it but to agitate anguish and a violent, vengeful urge that is offered some animal satisfaction by that murderous fight at the end.