Sam Bowden is the hero of the novel, The Executioners, the 1962 film adaption, Cape Fear, and the 1991 remake. He was played by Gregory Peck in the 1962 movie and Nick Nolte in the remake.
The villain, Max Cady, is able to hunt Sam, an attorney who Cady believes to be responsible for him being convicted and imprisoned and Bowden interrupted Cady's attack and testified against him you know, down. Then Max Cady begins to stalk and threaten Bowden and his family and murders their dog but Bowden doesn't have evidence that Cady actually killed their dog. Bowden's friend, who's a cop, helps Bowden but can't get Cady for any crime. Then Bowden hires a private detective and at the same time Cady attacks a young promiscuous woman, who takes Cady home and yet the private detective and Bowden can get her, becoming so scared of Max Cady, to testify.
Bowden then hires 3 thugs to beat up Cady, which results in Cady beating all 3 of them up instead and then Cady's lawyer promises Bowden to have him disbarred. Bowden then takes his fam to their houseboat in Cape Fear, to trick Cady, and Bowden knows Cady will follow them and plans to kill Cady. Bowden and a cop hide near the houseboat and yet Cady finds the cop and kills him. Cady escapes Bowden and attacks his wife, which Bowden soon comes to her rescue and then Cady attempts to go after his daughter but is stopped by Bowden.
The 2 engage in a fight that ends with Cady being defeated and Bowden chooses not to kill him but allow Cady to live so he can spend the rest of his life in jail.
In the remake, Sam Bowden, is a lawyer, who lives with his family in the town of New Essex, North Carolina, and Max Cady is an ex cilent of Bowden's, who was defended by Bowden years ago when Bowden was a public defender in Atlanta. Max Cady was being tried for violent rape and battery of a promiscuous woman and Bowden, who was disgusted by his crime buried that part og the report, which could have shortened Cady's prison sentence or got him acquitted.
He also says to Bowden that he knows that he buried the evidence. Cady then attacks Bowden's life by killing their dog with poison and viciously attacking Bowden's colleague and friend, to the point she's too humiliated and frightened to testify that the police can't convict nor arrest Cady. Then Cady approaches Bowden's daughter and kisses her and then later Bowden confronts Cady and gives him a warning to leave town or he's to really going pay.
Cady tapes their conversation and later uses the recording and the 3 men, who try and beat Cady up against Bowden, which results in a restraining order and Cady's lawyer then files a complaint to have Bowden disbarred. Kersek, a private investigator, and Bowden then set in motion a plan to fake Bowden's leaving so Cady will break in and be killed in self-defense. But Cady is onto their plan and kills their maid and then Kersek. Scared Bowden and his family go and hide at their house boat, which is along Cape Fear.
Sure enough Cady follows them and tries to rape his wife and daughter with Bowden watching. But the daughter attacks Cady, who jumps off the boat and grabs a rope, which pulls him back on board. Bowden is freed but Cady then attacks him using a mock trial and after the trial he attempts to murder Bowden but the storm causes Cady to fall down and get trapped by Bowden, who uses Cady's handcuffs to shackle Cady to the boat while Bowden's family go to the shore. Then the boat is sunk by a rock and Bowden and Cady fight and then a tide carries Max Cady away and he drowns. Bowden later rejoins his family.