Monday, 13 August 2012

CAPE FEAR (THE EXECUTIONERS) – John D Macdonald, 1957

I must admit that I bought this not realising that Cape Fear was a novel. I thought it was always a screenplay. After further research, it seems that it was originally published as The Executioners, although there is no mention of that in the copy I have.

There is a happy little family with three children. The young girl is in no way precocious and does exactly as her parents say. The father, Sam Bowden, has testified against Cady in a rape trial. The vendetta is purely one of unjustifiable vengeance; after losing years of his life in prison, Cady wants what Bowden has. Two of the kids are packed off to camp where he takes a shot at one of the boys. He is killed by Bowden on his own property. There is no Cape Fear.
All this seems pretty tame in comparison to both films, yet Macdonald still evokes the same air of heat and malice which we see on the screen.

I always enjoy finding something different. I came across this in Newark last week and was so glad I did. This is one of those cases where the story, especially if filmed, takes on a life of its own. So: Well done John D Macdonald; I’ll be thinking of you when I watch Scorsese.

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