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"Literary Cinema" presents a John D.MacDonald classic - CinemaDave

Oct. 20th, 2006 07:16 am "Literary Cinema" presents a John D.MacDonald classic

Based on a novel, originally titled "The Executioners" by John D. MacDonald, this thriller pits Robert Mitchum against Gregory Peck with a showdown that takes place in "Cape Fear," North Carolina. Remade in 1991 with Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange featuring gratuitous sex and violence, this original film is actually creepier and scarier than the overblown remake.

Gregory Peck was originally approached to play the role of Max Cady , but he said he did not want to play the villain and instead asked for (and received) the role of the hero, Sam Bowden.

When approached to play the villain, Mitchum declined the role. Thompson and Gregory Peck send him bourbon. Mitchum replied: "OK, I'll do it. I've drunk your bourbon. I'm drunk. I'll do it".

The scene where Mitchum attacks Polly Bergan's character on the houseboat was almost completely improvised. Before the scene was filmed, the director suddenly asked a crew member: "Bring me a dish of eggs!" Mitchum rubbing the eggs on Bergan was not scripted and Bergan's reactions were real. She also suffered back injuries from being knocked around so much. She felt the impact of the 'attack' for days.

Hayley Mills was originally considered to play the daughter, but she was on a contract with Disney and was unable to do so. Lori Martin was cast as Bowdon's daughter and reported having nightmares for weeks after filming the scenes where she is menaced by Cady at school, and when he confronts her in a cabin. The word 'rape' was entirely removed from the script.

The outdoor Savannah scenes were filmed first.
The indoor scenes and Cape Fear scenes were done at Universal studios. Robert Mitchum had a real-life aversion to Savannah, Georgia . As a teenager Mitchum worked in a chain-gang there before escaping.

The remake directed by Martin Scorcese was Gregory Peck's final appearance in a theatrical film release. The climactic scene in Cape Fear in the swamp was filmed in John U. Lloyd State Park, in the middle of a Fort Lauderdale mangrove swamp. A few blocks away, one could see the same scenery where they filmed both versions of "Where the Boys Are." A tropical depression set over the set for four days, so the film crew had to wait for the storm to stop, so that they could make their own rain.

A free screening will be held this Saturday afternoon 1PM at the Main Library 300 seat auditorium, located at 100 South andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, 33304.

A pass for 2 will be given away for the Floprida Supercon http://www.floridasupercon.com/ after the screening of the John D.MacDonald classic.

4 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry


Date:October 21st, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
I liked both versions of "Cape Fear", but I think the first one was a bit better than the remake. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I had seen the remake first and the older version later on. When a good film is remade it can sometimes be a burden for the remake no matter how well done to compete with the original.

It's interesting to learn that Gregory Peck was first approached to play the villain and that he preferred and won the heroic part. I do not have an exact list but if memory serves it seems that Peck played more good guys than villains and made an effective villain when he chose to play one.

Might have beens of this nature make for fascinating speculation.

North Star
Date:October 21st, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
Had Peck played the villian, would he have played Atticus Finch in his next starring role? Or could the public ever get Gregory Peck as Max Cady out of their minds in the early sixties?

Ever see Peck in "The Boys from Brazil?"
Date:October 23rd, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
I have never had much luck when it comes to correctly guessing what the movie going public will accept, but Gregory Peck was an actor who could convince me most of the time in the roles he played, be they good guys, bad guys or something in between. I liked some of what he did as the evil Nazi Dr. Mengele in "The Boys from Brazil", but other portions of his performance seemed over the top. The character was a very unstable individual and that is how people like that behave at times so perhaps it made some sense to play it that way.

I am not sure if everyone thinks of it as a villainous role, but Peck in my opinion was a convincing villain as the deranged Captain Ahab in "Moby Dick". Some film buffs feel he also went over the top at times in this role, but Ahab was a crazy over the top kind of guy.

The only other effective Peck villain I can think of at the moment was the robber who reforms at the movie's end in the western "Yellow Sky".

In "The Gunfighter" western, Peck brilliantly played a 35 year old gunman with nothing to show for his misguided life who came to his senses late in the day in an attempt to quit the business and lead a conventional life. He was not villainous in the role but the part suggested he had a wicked past that he wished to escape.

North Star
Date:October 23rd, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)

..pretty good choices..

I had forgotten about "Moby Dick." I remember seeing Mr. Magoo as Captain Ahab and I had sympathy for the character. It was not until I became an adult that I saw Ahab as a madman.

Peck could be a bad boy!