This essay is Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s contribution to The Best Hitchcock Movies (That Hitchcock Never Made) Blogathon, currently underway from July 7-12 and jointly hosted by Tales of the Easily Distracted and ClassicBecky’s Brain Food. For a complete list of the participants and films covered, check it all out here.
The Making of Cape Fear, a featurette on the 2001 DVD release of the classic 1962 movie, actor Gregory Peck recalled that adapting John D. MacDonald’s The Executioners to the silver screen was a project instituted by his production company, Melville-Talbot Productions (the “Melville” being a nod to Peck’s role as Captain Ahab in the 1956 film version of Moby Dick, no doubt). But Peck didn’t care for MacDonald’s title, and after seeing “
Cape Fear River” on
a map he decided to dub the film . Peck actually hadn’t planned on starring in
the film; the role of attorney Sam Bowden had been intended for Charlton Heston
(other actors considered included Jack Palance, John Wayne, James Coburn, and
Charles Bronson) but Peck stepped in at the last minute. As for antagonist Cady, the late Ernest
Borgnine had been offered the part but he declined…and Rod Steiger wanted the
part but backed off when he heard the smart money was on Big Bad Bob. I’m no casting director (nor do I play one on
TV), but in retrospect it’s hard to believe that anyone besides Mitchum was
considered…for me it’s his signature film role, even though many folks would
probably argue in favor of Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. Powell is a little too cartoonish for my
tastes…Max Cady is just plain bad news, with a countenance in which evil not
only lurks, it gloats. Cape
A little visual evidence of the Hitchcock influence: the motel where Mitchum’s Cady takes Barrie Chase’s Diane Taylor is actually the Bates house from Psycho (wisely, the chief of police played by Martin Balsam does not go near that stairway).
Peck’s Bowden stops momentarily outside the U.S. Customs House in downtown
Um…it’s not that beautiful.