"CAPE FEAR" (J. Lee Thompson; 1962)
Essentially a well-shot and well-acted B-movie, Cape Fear ('62) is a suspense-thriller horror production that mostly works but contains no semblance of substance or below-the-surface intrigue.
It's the story of an upstanding lawyer, father and hubsand (Gregory Peck) who once testified against the abusive Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) eight years ago. Now, out of prison and on the prowl, Cady has vengeance on his mind and the Bowden family in his sights.
Mitchum's Max Cady is a slime, the kind that he excels in playing, but so close on the heels of Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter ('55), his Cape Fear performance is almost tame by comparison - the film a genre exercise of loose ambitions. [B-]
"ROPE" (Alfred Hitchcock; 1948)
A claustrophobic and stagey one-set film, Alfred Hitchcock's one-take gimmick provides no heightened tension, but this psychological murder-thriller eventually reveals itself to be a major postwar work of startling philosophical relevance.
More of a trip inside the psyche of a killer rather than a murder mystery, Rope tracks the outlandish sensation of the act and the thrill of potentially getting away with it as the two men responsible hold a celebratory party at the scene of the crime.
Among them is a nosy housemaster (James Stewart) who finds himself playing detective, although with the clues being dropped, a monkey could figure it out quicker. In the end, the allusions to Nietzschean superiority complex frighteningly bring the not-too-distant memory of Nazism to the doorstep of the country. [B]