J. Lee Thompson
A man (Robert Mitchum) enters a courthouse and asks for Sam Bowden. He watches Sam (Gregory Peck) in a trial, then follows him to his car, re-introducing himself as Max Cady. Max makes vaguely threatening comments as Sam drives off. Later, Max watches Sam and his family bowling, and makes a pass at the waitress.
Sam calls police chief Dutton (Martin Balsam) and tells him that Max is being creepy. He explains that Max is an ex-convict who may have a grudge against Sam, and that Sam's family may be at risk. Dutton calls his deputies and tells them to pick up Max for vagrancy. Max cooperates and obviously knows the law, so they release him. The next day, Sam finds their dog, poisoned. Sam suspects Max but cannot prove it.
His wife Peggy (Polly Bergen) and daughter Nancy (Lori Martin) are distraught, and Sam explains about Max. Max hires a fiery lawyer, Dave Grafton (Jack Kruschen), who accuses the police of harassing Max. Dutton tells Sam he cannot do anything until Max commits a crime, but advises Sam to hire private detective Charles Sievers. Sievers (Telly Savalas) starts following Max. He calls the police to have Max picked up for lewd vagrancy, but by the time they arrive, Max is gone, and the woman he was with (Barrie Chase) is beaten up. She refuses to help them and leaves town, fearful of Max's revenge. Sievers suggests Sam hire a dock thug, but he refuses.
The next day, Sam catches Max leering at his daughter and takes a swing at him. Max doesn't punch back. Coming out from school, Nancy sees Max and flees, eventually running in front of a car. She's ok, but anger builds in Sam, and he gets a gun. Peggy convinces him not to go after Max.
Sam meets Max in a bar and tries to pay him off. Max says he prefers "death by a thousand cuts", and turns him down. Sam hires the thugs to beat up Max, but he fights them off. Max calls Sam and tells him that he has the law on his side. Sam and Peggy discuss a plan to use Nancy as bait. San tells Dutton that he will "hide" his family in a boat on the Cape Fear River, then asks for a deputy to help him catch Max. Sam and Deputy Kersek (Page Slattery) stake out the boat. Max arrives and sneaks up on Kersek, killing him.
He sets the boat with Peggy on it adrift, and Sam chases after. Nancy calls the sheriff from the dock. Max attacks Peggy, but leaves for Nancy when Sam arrives. Sam and Max fight; Sam shoots Max, and Max begs Sam to finish him off.
Sam declines, saying Max will rot in jail. The family leaves together..