A grim thriller about Max Cady, an ex-convict who seeks revenge on Sam Bowden – the meek lawyer he believes responsible for his eight-year prison sentence.
Robert Mitchum plays the cigar-chomping sadistic sex offender who threatens to rape the wife of upright Florida attorney Gregory Peck.
The wife is played by Polly Bergen, who returned to the screen after an eight-year absence to play this role.
Mitchum’s attentions soon move from poisoning the family dog to sexually assaulting Peck’s teenage daughter, Lori Martin.
Finally, the desperate Peck uses Martin and Bergen as bait in a trap he sets for Mitchum in the steamy mangrove swamps of the Everglades.
The performances are convincing. The film, based on a John D. MacDonald novel, is set in the bayous of the Deep South. Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Lori Nelson, and Telly Savalas also star.
Not since Night Of The Hunter (1955) has Mitchum revelled in such rich villainy. Martin Scorsese directed a 1991 remake with Robert DeNiro, Jessica Lange and Nick Nolte.
J. Lee Thompson