A bait for the beast

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German title A bait for the beast
Original title Cape Fear
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1962
length 105 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director J. Lee Thompson
script James R. Webb
production Sy Bartlett
music Bernard Herrmann
camera Sam Leavitt
cut George Tomasini

A bait for the beast (original title: Cape Fear ) is an American psychological thriller in black and white from 1962, in which Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck played the lead roles under the direction of J. Lee Thompson . It is based on the novel Cape of Fear (formerly also A Bait for the Beast ; original title: The Executioners , 1957) by John D. MacDonald .


Former prisoner Max Cady was sentenced to eight years in prison after attorney Sam Bowden caught red-handed rape and testified against him in court. After his release, Cady moves to the small town where Sam Bowden lives with his family. Cady blames the lawyer personally for his eight years in prison and seeks revenge. He begins to harass the Bowden family through subtle terror: he follows the family in their activities and seems to have a particular interest in Bowden's teenage daughter Nancy. Eventually even the family dog ​​is poisoned - but Cady cannot be proven to have committed a crime, so that the police cannot help Bowden.

Bowden therefore hires the private detective Charlie Sievers. When Cady brutally abuses the young woman Diane Taylor, Sievers and Bowden try to get her to testify against Cady - but Diane refuses out of shame and fear of Cady and takes the next bus out of town. Bowden hires three thugs to beat up Cady and drive him away, but the plan goes awry because Cady can knock them down. For his part, Bowden gets into trouble over paying the thugs, and Cady's attorney, Grafton, threatens to have his judicial license withdrawn.

In the end, Bowden only knows how to protect his wife and 14-year-old daughter by luring Cady into a trap at Cape Fear , where the family owns a houseboat. Bowden makes Cady believe he flew to Atlanta , which makes Cady think he has a free run. The lawyer secretly returns to his family. Sievers goes to the Bowden's houseboat to deliberately set the track for Cady. Bowden and the local deputy Kersek hide in the bushes, but Cady discovers Kersek and kills him. Cady first unties the houseboat and attacks Mrs. Bowden on it, whereupon Bowden follows him to save his wife. But Cady swims back and tries to rape Nancy. Bowden realizes that Cady set him up and swims back to Nancy. After an exciting showdown on the bank, he finally overpowers Cady, but refuses to kill him because it would be too easy for Cady and he should spend the rest of his life locked up in prison.


A bait for the beast was only the second film that British director J. Lee Thompson made for a Hollywood studio after the successful war strip The Guns of Navarone . Thompson later stated that he owed a lot to Alfred Hitchcock for this film : he studied Hitchcock's films carefully and often wondered how Hitchcock would have shot the scene. Thompson also hired composer Bernard Herrmann , production designer Robert F. Boyle and editor George Tomasini to create a Hitchcock-like feel for Ein Baeder für die Beast - all three of whom had made several films with Hitchcock. In order to create a gloomy mood in the exposure, Thompson shot the film in black and white, which was already considered old-fashioned in the early 1960s.

Many scenes were shot in the Universal studios in Hollywood, but some also outside. In the state of Georgia , many city scenes were filmed in Savannah , as well as the battle scene in the pavilion on Tybee Island . The final scenes at Cape Fear were actually staged in Ladds Marina, California near Stockton . The original houseboat from the film is still anchored in Ladds Marina to this day. Another connection to Hitchcock is that the set of Mrs. Bates' house in Psycho was reused as a hotel for that film where Diane is raped by Max Cady. Interestingly, Martin Balsam, who is stabbed to death on the steps of the house in his role as a private detective in Psycho , plays the chief of police in A Bait for the Beast .

Even Rod Steiger had sought the role of Max Cady, but the film through his company Melville Productions mitproduzierende Gregory Peck saw Robert Mitchum as a compelling choice. In fact, Mitchum later received excellent reviews, but Peck was disappointed that Mitchum wanted all the attention in the film: “I gave him the role and paid him a great amount of money. It was obvious that he had the better role. I thought he understood, but apparently he was thinking of acting me from the big screen. ” A bait for the beast also turned into a financial disaster for Peck, as he was not very successful at the box office at the time and he had to run his production company Melville Productions close a little later.


The German dubbed version was created in 1962 at Berliner Synchron , directed by Klaus von Wahl, based on a dialogue book by Fritz A. Koeniger .

role actor Voice actor
Sam Bowden Gregory Peck Wolfgang Lukschy
Max Cady Robert Mitchum Arnold Marquis
Peggy Bowden Polly Mountains Agi Prandhoff
Nancy Bowden Lori Martin Angela Pirsch
Police Chief Mark Dutton Martin Balsam Siegmar Schneider
Detective Charles Sievers Telly Savalas Alexander Welbat
Dave Grafton, Cady's attorney Jack Kruschen Fritz Tillmann
Diane Taylor Barrie Chase Brigitte Grothum
Deputy Sheriff Kersek Page slattery Joachim Nottke


"Sensational suspense film that cleverly operates with the audience's emotions."

"Absolutely exciting, Hitchcock- like thriller (the music is interestingly by Hitchcock resident composer Bernard Herrmann) with a terrifying, psychopathic Mitchum as a" wild beast "."

"(...) well-played but conventional didactic piece about sadistic violence and civic self-righteousness."

- Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz in the dictionary "Films on TV"

"Top class thrills."

- TV magazine TV Guide


1991 staged Martin Scorsese a remake under the German title Cape Fear . Here are Robert De Niro in the role of Max Cady and Nick Nolte to see in the role of Sam Bowden. Mitchum, Peck and Martin Balsam took on small supporting roles in the new version. The music from the original Bernard Herrmann film was used for the remake (only slightly edited by Elmer Bernstein and supplemented by action sequences from Torn Curtain ).

The makers of the US cartoon series The Simpsons dedicated a separate episode to the film under - almost - the same title ( Cape Feare , second episode of the fifth season). The episode satirizes the plot of the new edition and contains allusions to other classics of the psychological thriller.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gershon Reiter: The Shadow Self in Film: Projecting the Unconscious Other . McFarland, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4766-1247-8 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  2. Cape Fear (1962) - IMDb Locations. Retrieved February 9, 2019 .
  3. KikoandRazi: CAPE FEAR houseboat 1962 movie with Gregory Peck / Robert Mitchum. Retrieved February 9, 2019 .
  4. Freedland, Michael: Gregory Peck. A biography . Ed .: W. Morrow. 1980, p. 172 .
  5. Cape Fear (1962). Retrieved February 9, 2019 .
  6. Film title Casts Film Cast list Movie Cast Characters - synchrondatenbank.de. Retrieved February 8, 2019 .
  7. A bait for the beast. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  8. A bait for the beast on prisma.de
  9. (Extended new edition) Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , p. 458 (Rating: 2½ stars = above average)
  10. ^ Bernard Herrmann's compositions . In: Uwe Sperlich (ed.): Herrmann - Hitchcock. A Partnership in Terror. The meaning of Bernard Herrmann's music for "Vertigo", "North By Northwest" and "Psycho" . GRIN Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-640-53683-2 , pp. 14 ( limited preview in Google Book search).