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A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.
Max Cady: I ain't no white trash piece of shit. I'm better than you all! I can out-learn you. I can out-read you. I can out-think you. And I can out-philosophize you. And I'm gonna outlast you. You think a couple whacks to my guts is gonna get me down? It's gonna take a hell of a lot more than that, Counselor, to prove you're better than me!
Max Cady: "I am like God, and God like me. I am as large as God, He is as small as I. He cannot above me, nor I beneath Him be." Silesius, 17th Century.
Danielle: If you hold on to the past, you die a little each day...
Max Cady: I'm Virgil and I'm guidin' you through the gates of Hell. We are now in the Ninth Circle, the Circle of Traitors. Traitors to country! Traitors to fellow man! Traitors to GOD! You, sir, are charged with betrayin' the principles of all three! Quote for me the American Bar Association's Rules of Professional Conduct, Canon Seven. Sam Bowden: "A lawyer should represent his client... " Max Cady: "Should ZEALOUSLY represent his client within the bounds of the law." I find you guilty, counselor! Guilty of betrayin' your fellow man! Guilty of betrayin' your country and abrogatin' your oath! Guilty of judgin' me and sellin' me out! With the power vested in me by the kingdom of God, I sentence you to the Ninth Circle of Hell! Now you will learn about loss! Loss of freedom! Loss of humanity! Now you and I will truly be the same...
[last lines] Danielle: [voiceover] We never spoke about what happened, at least not to each other. Fear, I suppose, that to remember his name and what he did would mean letting him into our dreams. And me, I hardly dream about him anymore. Still, things won't ever be the way they were before he came. But that's alright because if you hang onto the past you die a little every day. And for myself, I know I'd rather live. [whispers] Danielle: The end.
Max Cady: It's not necessary to lay a foul tongue on me my friend. I could get upset. Things could get out of hand. Then in self defense, I could do something to you that you would not like, right here.
Max Cady: Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!
Max Cady: Are you a cop? Or were you a cop? Or were you not good enough to remain on the force? Cause you know what? That's the feeling I'm getting here.
Max Cady: I understand, I'm not your type, too many tattoos. Thing is, there isn't much to do in prison except desecrate your flesh.
Max Cady: Every man... every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.
Sam Bowden: [the first meet - about to start his car when suddenly a hand reaches in and snatches the keys. It's Max Caddy!] Max Cady: [smiling] Free as a bird. You go wherever you want with whomever. Sam Bowden: I'd like my keys back please. Max Cady: Could it be you don't remember me? Sam Bowden: I remember you. You were at the movies the other night. Max Cady: I'm disappointed. I'm hurt. Sam Bowden: I would like my keys. Max Cady: Max Cady. You look the same. Maybe 15 pounds heavier. But they say the average man gains a pound a year till he's about... Come on. Gains a pound a year till he's about 60. Me? I dropped a pound every year in my sentence. Sam Bowden: Atlanta. July 1977? Max Cady: You got it. [looks at keys and adds] Max Cady: Fourteen years since I held a set of keys.
[first lines] Danielle: My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: "Cape Fear". When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.
[Max Cady bares his heavily tattooed body] Lieutenant Elgart: I don't know whether to look at him or read him.
Max Cady: Are you my friend? Are you my friend? Claude Kersek: No I'm not your friend. Max Cady: Well, see, I like to plan my comings and goings with friends, so if you're planning my comings and goings I'd call that presumptuous, in fact I'd call it downright rude.
Lieutenant Elgart: Well, pardon me all over the place.
Claude Kersek: You're scared. But that's Ok. I want you to savor that fear. The south was born in fear. Fear of the Indian, fear of the slave, fear of the damn Union. The south has a fine tradition of savoring fear.
[Max Cady stares at Mrs Bowden] Max Cady: Mmm mmm, hot as a fire cracker on the fourth of July.
[repeated phrase] Max Cady: Counselor.
Max Cady: You learn about loss.
Claude Kersek: Well, gee golly gosh. I sure am sorry I offended you, you white trash piece of shit.
Max Cady: So, here we are, two lawyers for all practical purposes talking shop. Sam Bowden: How much do you want Mr. Cady? Max Cady: How much do I want what? Sam Bowden: How much money do you want? Max Cady: Money? Counselor, do I look destitute you. Sam Bowden: Well I'm open to discussion within reasonable limits. Max Cady: You ever been a woman. Sam Bowden: What? Max Cady: A woman... some fat, hairy hillbilly's wet dream.
Sam Bowden: I know how the dog died. Leigh Bowden: Sam, are you dreaming? Sam Bowden: No, no, I just had the weirdest feeling that he [Cady] Sam Bowden: was already in the house.
Max Cady: [to Lori] Maybe I could chop you into 40 pieces.
Max Cady: You ready to be born again, Miss Bowden?
Sam Bowden: He says we're fugitives! Danielle: What does that mean? Sam Bowden: That means we're doing something right!
Max Cady: [hit in the head with a rock] Forget about that restraining order, Counselor? You're well within 500 yards!
Max Cady: Granddaddy used to handle snakes in church, Granny drank strychnine. I guess you could say I had a leg up, genetically speaking.
Max Cady: [hanging upside down, on the phone with Danielle] ... well, you can trust in me 'cause I'm the "Do-Right Man".
[Cady has just killed Kersek] Max Cady: You white-trash piece of shit!
Leigh Bowden: You don't know Danny. If she finds a palmetto bug in her bedroom, she takes it outside. She could never kill anything. Claude Kersek: Even a six-foot palmetto bug?
Max Cady: I am going to teach you the meaning of commitment. Fourteen years ago I was forced to make a commitment to an eight by nine cell, now you are going to be forced to make a commitment. You could say I'm here to save you.
Claude Kersek: Anytime you feel squirrelly, you just jump.
[last lines] Max Cady: [Bowden has shot Cady and is holding the gun on him] Go ahead. I just don't give a damn. Sam Bowden: No. No! That would be letting you off too easy, too fast. Your words - do you remember? Well I do. No, we're gonna take good care of you. We're gonna nurse you back to health. And you're strong, Cady. You're gonna live a long life... in a cage! That's where you belong and that's where you're going. And this time for life! Bang your head against the walls. Count the years - the months - the hours... until the day you rot!
Lieutenant Elgart: So what happened, your wife let the dog out and Cady abducted him and... Sam Bowden: No, my wife didn't let the dog out. Lieutenant Elgart: So he came into the house? Now that's illegal entry... Sam Bowden: No, he didn't come into the house either. Now look, I'm not a cop, I don't know how he did it, all I know is that he DID it.
Leigh Bowden: [about Cady] I'd still like to kill him.
Leigh Bowden: I'd like to know just how strong we are. Or How weak. But I guess the only way we're gonna find that out is just by going through this.
Max Cady: You will now have an opportunity. "What is that opportunity?", you ask. Why, here and now, we have an opportunity to depict and dramatize... Leigh Bowden: Oh, no! Max Cady: ...both the heights and the depths of a mama's true love of her daughter, if y'all get my meaning. C'mon out, baby, let's go. C'mon darling. Get out. [shoves Danielle up onto table] Max Cady: Get up here.
Max Cady: Your mommy's not happy... your daddy's not happy, and you know what? You're not happy.
Max Cady: I got somethin' planned for your wife and kid that they ain't nevah gonna forget. They ain't nevah gonna forget it... and neither will you, Counselor! Nevah!
Sam Bowden: My wife found some marijuana in one of Danni's schoolbooks, we don't know if Cady gave it to her, but she's scared and won't talk to us, now this has gone far enough. Claude Kersek: Did you call the police? Sam Bowden: No I didn't call the police, what did you call them? Slow, slobbery, skeptical...
Max Cady: Counselor, could you be there?
Prison Guard: What about your books? Max Cady: Already read 'em.
Police Chief Mark Dutton: [Bowden has told Dutton that he's worried about Max Cady] You have a dog don't you, Sam? Sam Bowden: She couldn't bite through a doughnut; but she's a good barker. Police Chief Mark Dutton: Well, that's good enough. I'll call you when they pick him up.
Sam Bowden: [tries to pay Cady to leave town; Cady wants revenge] You shocking degenerate. I've seen the worst - the dregs - but you... you are the lowest. Makes me sick to breathe the same air. [leaves the bar]
Police Chief Mark Dutton: Let's make with the pants.
Max Cady: [to Diane Taylor] Go on, tell me some more about that time when you were Queen of the Veiled Prophet's Ball.
Sam Bowden: It's a mistake to teach women how to tell time. They always use it against you.
Diane Taylor: [Diane is cuddling with Max as he is driving] Why are we going this way? Max Cady: Better scenery. Diane Taylor: What would you know about scenery? Or beauty? Or any of the things that really make life worth living? You're just an animal: coarse, lustful, barbaric. Max Cady: Keep right on talkin', honey. I like it when you run me down like that. Diane Taylor: Max Cady, what I like about you is... you're rock bottom. I wouldn't expect you to understand this, but it's a great comfort for a girl to know she could not possibly sink any lower.
Diane Taylor: [after Cady has beaten her, she prepares to leave town] You can't help me. Charles Sievers: But I can. Now you file an assault charge and Cady'll get six months in jail. Diane Taylor: Six months! And after that... When he walked out of this room he said... he said to consider this only a sample. And from my limited knowledge of human nature, Max Cady isn't a man who makes idle threats.
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