Cape Fear appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the transfer largely held up well.
For the most part, sharpness looked solid. A few slightly soft images materialized, but not a lot. Instead, I thought the majority of the flick boasted nice clarity and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but moderate edge haloes crept into the picture at times.
Black levels were pretty strong. At times they could seem a little inky, but usually they presented good depth and dimensionality along with nice contrast. Shadows were also fine, and the image lacked notable print flaws; a small speck or two popped up but nothing much. In the end, the movie looked good.
Cape Fear featured a perfectly adequate monaural sound mix, one that seemed typical of efforts from the era. The audio was somewhat dull and lacked detail, but I found it to also be clear and easily comprehensible.
Music lacked much punch, as dynamic range appeared limited. Speech was a little flat – and held back by some lackluster looping – but seemed intelligible and without edginess. I was pleased to note that no substantial distortion occurred during the track. The soundtrack delivered little spark or life, but it's more than acceptable based on the age of the movie.
A few extras round out the disc, and we get a featurette called The Making of Cape Fear. It runs 27 minutes, 59 seconds and includes comments from producer/actor Gregory Peck and director J. Lee Thompson.
“Making” covers the source novel and its path to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, Peck’s dual role as actor and producer, Thompson’s approach to the material and Hitchcock’s influence, shooting black and white and art direction, sets and locations, score, censorship issues and the 1991 remake.
On the surface, the inclusion of only two participants sounds like a weakness, but “Making” overcomes potential pitfalls. Both Peck and Thompson prove to be chatty and informative, so they cover a nice array of topics. It’s too bad they didn’t sit for a commentary, as they add a lot of good notes about the movie.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of production photos. This gives us a four-minute, 49-second montage that mixes stills with film clips. The inclusion of the movie snippets perplexes me, and the photos themselves don’t seem especially great.
Led by excellent lead performances and taut direction, the 1962 Cape Fear works as a strong thriller. It delivers an involving tale with enough twists to keep the viewer on edge. The DVD offers mostly positive picture and audio as well as supplements led by an engaging featurette. Expect a solid drama here.