CLOSE
YouTube
YouTube

15 Intense Facts About Cape Fear

YouTube
YouTube

In 1991—long before the term "gritty reboot" came into this world and lost all of its meaning—Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro teamed up to make a gritty reboot of J. Lee Thompson's 1962 thriller Cape Fear. De Niro played Max Cady, a vengeful sex offender who, once out of jail, attempts to torture his lawyer, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who he blames for his 14-year imprisonment. Juliette Lewis made what was for many a first impression for the ages as Sam's daughter, Danielle. The impressive supporting cast included Jessica Lange as Leigh, Sam's wife, and cameos from actors who were in the original, including Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck (in what would be his final film). Here are 15 facts about Cape Fear in honor of its 25th anniversary.

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG TRADED THE MOVIE TO MARTIN SCORSESE FOR THE RIGHTS TO SCHINDLER'S LIST.

Martin Scorsese was apprehensive about making Schindler's List after the controversy surrounding his previous two films, Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ. Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, said he "wasn't in the mood" to make a movie about a "maniac." So, once Scorsese promised Spielberg that the Bowdens would survive in the end, they traded. Spielberg had Bill Murray in mind to play Max Cady. Scorsese had other ideas.

2. THE SCREENWRITER PASSED ON THE PROJECT, BUT SPIELBERG DIDN'T NOTICE.

Spielberg had originally contacted screenwriter Wesley Strick (Arachnophobia) about adapting the original 1962 screenplay by James R. Webb, which was based on John D. MacDonald's 1958 novel The Executioners, but Strick wasn't interested. "They sent me the original movie and I watched it and didn't like it very much," Strick admitted. "It seemed like sort of a failed Hitchcock, which doesn't really turn me on. And also I didn't like the vigilante implications of the story—you know, there comes a point when a man's gotta be a man with a gun and shoot this guy down. It's not a message I ever wanted to send in a movie."

Strick planned to pass on the project, but found himself unable to say no to Spielberg when they met in person. "I didn't want to insult him and tell him I didn't think it was a good movie idea, but I wanted to convince him that I wasn't the writer for it, in a sort of polite [way]," Strick explained. "So we sat there and we talked. Actually I did most of the talking; I kind of explained what aspects of the story bothered me, and he listened, and then when it was all over he stood up and said, 'Well, I'm really glad that you're coming aboard.' And he shook my hand, and as I shook his hand back my mouth moved, my lips moved and I said 'Me, too.' It was like, in person, I was unable to say no to him, and I remember driving home thinking, What have I done?"

3. SCORSESE MADE THE SCREENWRITER TAKE OUT THE PARTS THAT WERE "TOO CLEVER."

When Scorsese took over, he kept Strick, but made him take out all of the overly clever dialogue. "Anything that smacked of television, all the dialogue he perceived as being 'clever,' everything that was too well reasoned, too neat, too clean, with ideas that were somewhat predigested—he wanted it gone," Strick told The New York Times. Strick's new boss insisted on 24 drafts before filming began.

4. IT COULD HAVE STARRED HARRISON FORD AND ROBERT DE NIRO.

Scorsese asked De Niro to ask Harrison Ford to play Sam. Ford told De Niro he would only be interested in working on the film if he played Cady and De Niro played Sam. De Niro said no to that.

5. NICK NOLTE REALLY WANTED THE PART.

Nick Nolte wore a blazer and tie to the Goodfellas premiere, with the hope that Scorsese would see he could play the part of Sam Bowden. "He had played this bear-like man, very big and rough, and I didn't think he would be right for Cape Fear," Scorsese admitted. Only after "several" discussions between the two did Nolte win the role. For research, the actor spent many weeks in public defenders' offices. For the climatic scenes in Cape Fear, he channeled the primates in the opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey because, according to Nolte, the cast and crew were "all trying for a very primal image."

6. REESE WITHERSPOON BLEW HER AUDITION TO PLAY DANIELLE. SO DID DREW BARRYMORE.

"It was my second audition ever," Witherspoon said in 1999. "My agent told me I'd be meeting Martin Scorsese. I said, 'Who is he?' Then he mentioned the name Robert De Niro. I said, 'Never heard of him.' When I walked in I did recognize De Niro, and I just lost it. My hand was shaking and I was a blubbering idiot.''

Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role, too, but believed she overacted for one of Scorsese's assistants. In 2000, she called the audition "the biggest disaster" of her life and said that Scorsese thinks she's "dog doo-doo" because of it.

7. JULIETTE LEWIS WAS THE FIRST ACTRESS TO BE INTERVIEWED BY DE NIRO FOR THE ROLE OF DANIELLE.

Juliette Lewis first met De Niro for an interview in a room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "It was to my advantage because I knew that was not a normal situation for [De Niro], interviewing young girls," Lewis said. "I could tell he was a little uncomfortable. I mean, all the other girls came in with their moms." Lewis had herself declared as an adult at 14 to be free of child actor labor laws. "So I said something to put him at ease. I summed everything up very quickly, meaning I didn't tell him an elaborate story of all the pieces of [crap] work I'd done. I said, 'If you want to see if I can act, just look at this movie-of-the-week I've done.'" Moira Kelly, Fairuza Balk, and Martha Plimpton also auditioned, but Lewis won out.

8. DE NIRO BECAME A GYM RAT.

To prepare for the role, six months before shooting began De Niro and his longtime trainer began hitting the gym six days a week, for two to three hours per day. Once filming started, he worked out for five hours a night. De Niro suggested that Scorsese hold off on shooting any scenes that showed off the actor's muscles until the very end of production, so that he could be as fit as possible, and the director agreed.

De Niro also reportedly paid a dentist $5000 to grind down his teeth, then another $20,000 after filming wrapped to have them fixed.

9. DE NIRO AND LEWIS DIDN'T REHEARSE THEIR MOST FAMOUS SCENE.

Scorsese put one camera on De Niro and one on Lewis for the long scene, which was filmed three times. The first take was the one used in the final cut. Lewis did not know De Niro was going to stick his thumb into her mouth before kissing her. She only received a nonchalant warning from her director that De Niro was "going to do something."

10. ILLEANA DOUGLAS BASED HER CHARACTER ON THE PREPPY KILLER'S VICTIM.

In the early morning hours of August 26, 1986, 18-year-old Jennifer Levin was murdered in Central Park by Robert Chambers, who came to be known as the "Preppy Killer." Illeana Douglas had that infamous crime in mind when preparing to play the role of Lori Davis. "I was the one who suggested my part," Douglas said of her role in Cape Fear. "The original part was called 'The Drifter.' She didn’t even have a name. I was in school when Jennifer Levin was murdered in Central Park by Robert Chambers, and I was profoundly affected by that ... In the back of my mind, 100 percent it was based on Jennifer Levin. I tried to put myself in the position of somebody who’s new to New York, who’s young, who doesn’t see anything bad coming."

11. DOUGLAS'S TORTURE SCENE TOOK TWO VERY LONG DAYS TO SHOOT.

Filming the scene in which Cady tortures Douglas's Davis was no small task. It took two days to complete the scene, and the first day lasted 17 hours. "It really hurt," Douglas told The AV Club. "My arms really were quite banged up. At one point, De Niro hopped off the bed and started whispering to Marty, and I thought, 'Oh my God, they’re going to fire me! I’m terrible!' I’d been crying for hours on end; I’ve never cried so much in my life. Then De Niro hopped back on, and Marty came and said, 'Bob says you’re done.'” It was like Stephen Boyd in Ben-Hur—like, 'Just take him off. He’s done.' I could barely walk, and my arms were all cut up from thrashing around, and then De Niro complimented me. He said that Charles Grodin was a p*ssy, because he couldn’t take the handcuffs when they did Midnight Run. I thought that was a supreme compliment."

12. GEORGE C. SCOTT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN IT.

George C. Scott was scheduled to appear in Cape Fear, but ended up needing an angioplasty after a heart scare while shooting another movie. He never made it to the Fort Lauderdale set.

13. THE HOUSEBOAT SCENES WERE SHOT INDOORS.

Cape Fear's houseboat scenes were shot indoors, on a soundstage made just for the production, and featuring a 90-foot water tank. Rain and wind machines helped capture the torrential storm. "It was hard making that commitment to build something so big," producer Barbara de Fina said. "In the overview, I guess the amount of money we spent to build the tank we'll save by not having to worry about things like weather and tides and alligators." In post-production, miniatures of the houseboat were shot in England.

14. ELMER BERNSTEIN RECYCLED SOME MUSIC.

Composer Elmer Bernstein adapted Bernard Herrmann's 1962 score from the original Cape Fear, even though Bernstein admitted that Herrmann probably would have hated the idea. "He would have killed me," Bernstein said. "He would have yelled and screamed with no question." Bernstein said he was in a state of depression for weeks working on the score because the movie was "so depressing." When Bernstein needed music for scenes not from the original, he "did something else which Herrmann would have hated. As part of the music for scenes for we which didn’t have ... appropriate music in the original, we used some of [Herrmann's] rejected music to Torn Curtain in the score, which was also very effective.”

15. PREVIEW AUDIENCES WERE CONFUSED.

After Scorsese noticed a lot of preview screening audience members wrote that the movie "skips around a lot" on their comment cards, he added shots to connect some of the dots, including one of Max's arm grasping a rope off of the houseboat. Originally, Cady fell off the boat and got back on with no explanation as to how.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
arrow
entertainment
15 Festive Facts About Jingle All the Way
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In all of Arnold Schwarzenegger's film oeuvre, Jingle All the Way might just be the one that most exhibits the ugliness of humanity. Set on a fevered Christmas Eve brimming with desperate last-minute shoppers, Schwarzenegger's Howard Langston and Sinbad's postal worker character Myron Larabee find themselves battling one another to make themselves look good to their sons by getting their hands on the elusive Turbo Man action figure. The comedic genius Phil Hartman; Rita Wilson; future young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd; Laraine Newman; Harvey Korman; Martin Mull; Curtis Armstrong; and Chris Parnell were the other willing participants in this cult comedy, directed by Brian Levant. Here are some things you might not have known about the contemporary holiday classic.

1. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WAS ABLE TO PLAY THE LEAD BECAUSE OF A DELAY ON A PLANET OF THE APES REMAKE.

Arnold Schwarzenegger signed up to star in the Apes remake in March of 1994, but 20th Century Fox rejected multiple scripts for the movie, including one co-written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies). Columbus left the project in late 1995, and Schwarzenegger followed him soon after, freeing him to sign up for Jingle All the Way, produced by Columbus, in February 1996. Fox's Planet of the Apes reboot found its way into theaters in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Tim Burton.

2. SINBAD THOUGHT HE SCREWED UP THE AUDITION.

Sinbad in 'Jingle All the Way' (1996)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Filming was delayed so that Sinbad could follow through on his commitment to travel to Bosnia with Hillary Clinton. Even though Columbus agreed to wait for him, the comedian still thought he "messed up" his audition and told his manager-brother he was going to quit show business.

3. OFFICER HUMMELL WAS INITIALLY WRITTEN AS A WOMAN.

Though the role of Officer Hummell was written for a woman, the part went to Robert Conrad. Conrad's explanation was that the producers "wanted someone who could pull up next to Arnold and tell him to pull over and he pulls over."

4. IT WAS CHRIS PARNELL'S FIRST MOVIE.

The future SNL star played the toy store clerk. "Well, it was my first movie role, and I didn't know how they typically shot scenes," Parnell admitted in a Reddit AMA. "So I had to laugh a lot, and I sort of spent all of my laughing energy in the wider takes, so by the time we got to the close-up shots, it was a real struggle to keep that going."

5. MARTIN MULL STAYED ON SET FOR OVER TWO WEEKS LONGER THAN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO.

Mull (KQRS D.J. a.k.a. Mr. Ponytail Man) was told it would just be a one- to two-day shoot for him. Unfortunately, his part had to be shot on a rainy day, and it didn't rain in Minneapolis for two and a half weeks.

6. PHIL HARTMAN MADE UP A BACKSTORY FOR HIS CHARACTER.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Hartman (Ted Maltin) was probably joking for the film's official production notes, but you never know. "Ted is a guy who sued his employer for headaches caused by toner fumes and now hangs around the neighborhood and helps all the housewives," Hartman said. He also offered a take on how he was kind of being pigeonholed in Hollywood when he added, "Ted's another weasel to add my list of weasels."

7. HARTMAN ENTERTAINED HIS BORED YOUNG CO-STARS.

To keep young E.J. De la Pena (Johnny Maltin) and Jake Lloyd (Jamie Langston) from getting bored shooting a car scene all day, Hartman improvised songs designed to bring kids to hysterics. One tune contained the lyrics “You make my butt shine, the more you kiss it, the more it shines! The clock is ticking, so keep on licking, oh how you make my buttocks shine!”

"When you’re an 8 year old hearing that kind of potty humor, it was hilarious!" De la Pena remembered. "And we had a lot of fun."

8. JAMES BELUSHI HAD EXPERIENCE PLAYING SANTA BEFORE.

Belushi sort of trained to portray the Mall of America Santa in the movie by playing Kris Kringle for four years in "about 20" different homes, according to his estimation.

9. SHOOTING BEGAN IN MID-APRIL.

The Minneapolis/St.Paul areas were chosen because the producers figured they had the longest winter. But they also filmed in Los Angeles' Universal Studios for the big parade over a three week span, where it was typical hot California weather on the verge of summer. Sinbad remembered it was 100 degrees on the days when he wore the Dementor costume, and the water in his helmet had started to boil.

10. THE REAL TURBO MAN DIDN'T SWEAT.

Daniel Riordan's Turbo Man suit ensured he wouldn't have trouble with the scorching heat. He was wearing a vest underneath used by race car drivers. "They're very thin membrane vests that are filled with small, plastic tubing that's tightly coiled, back and forth, and they run cold water through it," Riordan explained. "So when they run it, it's like this cold water right up against your body and it was amazing. The sensation was fantastic."

11. TURBO MAN FIGURES WERE SOLD AT WAL-MART.

200,000 were originally produced and sold at 2,300 Wal-Mart shops for $25. They would have made more but, as Fox’s president of licensing and merchandising explained to Entertainment Weekly, there were only six and a half months to produce and promote Turbo Man toys, and it usually takes "well over a year."

12. THEY ALMOST SOLD DEMENTOR DOLLS TOO.

Sinbad recalled that the studio didn't sell Dementor action figures even though they tested high during research. "I had a prototype of the doll but they said 'give it back, we'll get you the real one when it comes out,'" Sinbad said." ...And dude, it NEVER came out!" Sinbad told Redditers his theory: "I think that they didn't want the competition between Turbo Man and my doll."

13. SOME PARENTS HAD ALCOHOL-RELATED COMPLAINTS AFTER TEST SCREENINGS.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Schwarzenegger and Sinbad talking at a bar over some alcohol, and the fact that reindeer also imbibed in beer, were among some of the problems mothers and other early viewers took issue with.

14. THE FILMMAKERS WERE SUED FOR PLAGIARISM, AND LOST.

Randy Kornfield penned the official script, but high school teacher Brian Alan Webster alleged his Could This Be Christmas? script was very similar. The publishing firm that had the rights to Webster's script won a $19 million lawsuit from 20th Century Fox, but the ruling was overturned in 2004. Webster's screenplay was about “the quest of a Caucasian mother attempting to obtain a hard-to-get action figure toy as a Christmas gift for her son. In the course of this pursuit, she competes with an African-American woman, similarly seeking to give the action figure doll as a Christmas gift.”

15. THERE WAS A SEQUEL STARRING LARRY THE CABLE GUY.

None of the original cast members nor characters returned in the straight-to-DVD Jingle All the Way 2 (2014). It was produced by 20th Century Fox and WWE Studios and featured wrestler Santino Marella. Sinbad expressed incredulity when a Redditer inquired if he was asked to return for it. "What they are doing a new version without me! Ain't gonna work!"

Additional Sources:

Schaefer, Stephen: "Sinbad leaps at the chance to go postal in Jingle All the Way," December 6, 1996; Des Moines Register

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Twentieth Century Fox
arrow
entertainment
10 Rich Facts About Wall Street
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

It’s often said that the love of money is the root of all evil. Wall Street could have easily turned this sentiment into a tagline. A gripping financial thriller, the Oliver Stone classic is a cautionary tale whose message is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was released 30 years ago today.

1. OLIVER STONE WOULD DELIBERATELY TICK OFF MICHAEL DOUGLAS BETWEEN TAKES.

“As a director, he really tests you,” Douglas said of Stone. Around two weeks after shooting had started, Stone showed up at the actor’s trailer and asked “Are you on drugs? Because you look like you’ve never acted before in your life.” Mortified, Douglas took a look at some footage they’d already shot. Yet, after diligently reviewing it, he could find nothing wrong with his performance. “I came back to Oliver and said … ‘I think it’s okay,” Douglas remembers. “Yeah, it is, isn’t it?” Stone replied.

Eventually, Douglas wised up to his boss’s overly critical act. “Basically, what he wanted was to ratchet up that much more nastiness in Gordon Gekko,” Douglas explained. “And he was willing … for me to hate him for the rest of that movie just to bring it up a little more.” 

2. WALL STREET WON BOTH AN OSCAR AND A RAZZIE.


Getty Images

Douglas’s cold portrayal of the unscrupulous Gekko netted him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1988. On the other hand, critics were thoroughly unimpressed by leading lady Daryl Hannah, who took home a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie.

3. GORDON GEKKO’S FAMOUS PHONE WEIGHED TWO POUNDS.

In one pivotal scene, Gekko rings Bud with a state-of-the-art mobile communication device. Specifically, it’s a Motorola DynaTac 8000X. Released in 1983, this brick-shaped cell phone was 13 inches long, weighed two pounds, and cost the equivalent of $8,806 in modern dollars. During the 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the anachronistic gadget returned for a quick sight gag.

4. CHARLIE SHEEN CHOSE TO HAVE HIS REAL FATHER PORTRAY HIS FICTIONAL ONE.

“It was interesting having my dad play my dad,” Sheen said on the DVD's “making of” documentary. Wall Street’s most dramatic arc revolves around Bud and Carl Fox, who were played by Charlie and Martin Sheen, respectively. Stone had built a strong working relationship with the former on the set of 1986’s Platoon. So when the time came to cast Carl, he had the younger Sheen make the call, asking “Do you want Jack Lemmon or do you want your father?” “Oh, Jack Lemmon’s a genius,” the actor said, “but my dad’s my dad and he’s kind of a genius, too.”

5. SCREENWRITER STANLEY WEISER COULDN'T FIND INSPIRATION IN EITHER CRIME AND PUNISHMENT OR THE GREAT GATSBY.

Before the writer could get started, Stone gave him a little homework. Originally, the film was conceived as “Crime and Punishment on Wall Street.” When Weiser was brought aboard one fateful Friday, Stone told him to read Dostoyevsky’s novel over the weekend. “Not having taken an Evelyn Wood Speed Reading class, I went to UCLA and purchased the Cliffs Notes,” Weiser wrote in 2008.

But the literary exercise proved futile. “On Monday, I explained to Oliver that the paradigm for that masterwork would not mesh well with the story we wanted to tell.” In a flash, Stone hit him with another assignment. “Okay,” he ordered, “read The Great Gatsby tonight, and see if we can mine something out of it.” This time, Weiser simply rented the 1974 movie adaptation. Once again, though, inspiration eluded him.

Wall Street as we know it didn’t really start to take shape until after a change in tactic: When Gatsby led him nowhere, Weiser read everything about finance that he could track down and, along with Stone, “spent three weeks visiting brokerage houses, interviewing investors and getting a feel for the Weltanschauung of Wall Street.”

6. PARTS OF THE MOVIE WERE SHOT AT THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE DURING WORKING HOURS.


Getty Images

Permission was secured with the help of Kenneth Lipper, a longtime Wall Street insider who also served as New York City's deputy mayor from 1982 to 1985. For the film, Stone brought him on board as the chief technical advisor.

7. TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE FILM’S RELEASE, THERE WAS A MAJOR WALL STREET CRASH IN REAL LIFE.

Historians now call it “Black Monday.” On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by a staggering 22.6 percent. It was the largest single-day stock market decline of all time, with $500 billion suddenly going up in smoke. Wall Street would hit theaters on December 11, leading conspiracy theorists to wonder if Stone had seen the crisis coming and made his movie to exploit it. 

“I did not foresee the crash, as some people say, because if I had, I would have made a lot of money,” Stone quipped.

8. GEKKO WAS BASED ON THREE BIG-NAME FINANCIERS. 


Getty Images

“If you need a friend, get a dog,” Gekko advises his young protégé. This quote was adapted from a remark that corporate raider Carl Icahn once made (which he had cribbed from Harry Truman). In 1985, Icahn became a notorious figure by taking over TWA airlines under the pretense of making it more profitable only to sell off its assets for his own gain. Gekko, no doubt, would’ve approved.

Wall Street’s charismatic antagonist also took cues from Asher Edelman, a financier and major league art enthusiast. Another source of inspiration was arbiter Ivan Boesky, who confessed to illegal insider trading in 1986 and ended up in jail in 1988 (more about him later).

9. STONE’S FATHER WAS A STOCKBROKER.

A survivor of the Great Depression, Louis Stone had a huge influence on his cinematically-inclined son. “The main motivation to make Wall Street was my father,” the director admitted. “He always said there were no good business movies, because the businessman was always the villain.” In the end, Wall Street was dedicated to the elder Stone, who passed away two years before its release. 

10. GEKKO’S BIG LINE IS NUMBER 57 ON THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE’S TOP 100 MOVIE QUOTES LIST.

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” finished just ahead of “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” from The Godfather: Part II. Gekko might as well have been quoting Boesky: At a 1985 commencement address given at UC Berkeley, the trader said “Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

Newsweek later reported on the speech—and made a telling observation. “The strangest thing, when we come to look back,” the magazine argued, “will not just be that Ivan Boesky could say that at a business school graduation, but that it was greeted with laughter and applause.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios