Robert Mitchum: Max Cady vs. Harry Powell

Robert Mitchum Characters: Max Cady vs. Harry Powell

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for 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!” Yikes! Those are the words of one Max Cady vowing revenge upon the man who helped send him to prison. Mitchum’s diabolical villain may be a brute but he’s a sly devil, never getting caught for any wrongdoing while stalking and terrorizing lawyer Sam Bowden and his family. Cady and Bowden’s showdown at the family houseboat on Cape Fear is a classic.

The case for Harry Powell

In The Night of the Hunter, woman-hating religious fanatic Harry Powell seduces widows with his sermons about LOVE and HATE (famously tattooed across the knuckles of his right and left hands), marries the susceptible women, then murders them for their money. While in prison for auto theft Powell learns of another widow-to-be who unknowingly has $10,000 of stolen money. After being released he sets his treacherous sights on the gullible woman and kills her too, but her children (who know where the money is hid) are not deceived by the psychotic preacher’s charms. “Chilll-dren!”

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!