the colonial theatre marquee

Illuminating Cinema: Cape Fear

Directed by J. Lee Thompson. US. 1962. NR. 1 hour 46 minutes. Universal. Digital.
Sun., November 11, 2018
November 11, 2018
1:00 pm

Before Robert DeNiro and Nick Nolte squared off in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake, there was this original thriller with screen legends Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck. Released after an eight-year sentence for rape, Max Cady (Mitchum) sets out to wreck the life of Sam Bowden (Peck), the lawyer who put him behind bars. Fearing for his family’s safety, Bowden seeks every legal route possible to put Cady back in prison. When every effort fails and Cady’s antics grow more dangerous, Bowden realizes he may have to defend himself and his homestead the old fashioned way.

About the Talk & Conversation

Writing in, Leviathan, English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes describes human existence, without benefit of law, as “nasty, brutish and short.” Over a century later, the father of modern criminology, Cesare Beccaria (1764), concurred and stated that swift punishment to those that transgress a society’s legal code is essential if civilization is to be protected and preserved. The dynamic, therefore, is a simple one, each member of society willingly forfeits an aspect of freedom, conforming to the established legal code, as a benefit they receive the full and equal protection of the law. But what happens if that law flounders, and in doing so, fails to protect the individual and their family from a relentless and brutal killer? This is the subject matter of J. Lee Thompson’s, Cape Fear (1962), based on the novel, The Executioners (1957), by John D. MacDonald.

This talk and discussion will explore the portrayal of vigilante justice within American popular culture, from its origins amid the violence of the Western Frontier, to its manifestation in late twentieth and early twenty-first century filmmaking. Does the inclusion of such a mechanism, utilized in films such as, Cape Fear, signal the ultimate failure of civilization? A failure that will compel the civilized man to regress to that of the savage, if they are to protect their family from a deadly and malevolent threat.

About the Speaker

Andrew Owen received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Bangor University, Great Britain, and was a fulltime faculty member at Cabrini University. Andrew is also a house manager here at the Colonial.

Andrew’s main areas of interest relate to the social history of censorship within popular culture; analyzing areas related to propaganda, horror, and the societal and cultural dynamics of censorship discourse and practice. Andrew is also interested in the study of humor, especially as it pertains to its usage by subordinated social groups to attack, challenge, or draw attention to the oppressive ideologies and practices of the dominant social group.


1:00PM – Pre-Show Talk in the Garden Suite
1:30PM – Film Screening in the 1903 Theatre
3:20PM – Post-Show Conversation in the Garden Suite


Adults: $25
Members, Seniors & Students: $20
Click HERE to purchase Cape Fear, Holy Grail and It’s a Wonderful Life at a discount.
Click HERE to purchase a ticket to the Cape Fear film screening only.

In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn, a free small soda, and a complimentary theatre cup. Plus $5 beer or wine (at this event only.

A limited number of tickets are available for each Illuminating Cinema presentation so we encourage advance purchases.

Discounts are available when you purchase tickets for all current Illuminating Cinema selections during the same transaction.

Member Passes are not accepted for this program.

About Illuminating Cinema

When the credits end that’s when the conversation begins!

Illuminating Cinema connects you with film fans of all ages for fun, refreshments and engaging conversation. Each presentation begins in our beautiful Garden Suite with a pre-show introduction from a guest speaker who offers insight and observation to help sharpen your focus on the respective film. After the lights go up in the historic 1903 auditorium, we’ll gather in the Garden Suite for a convivial post-film conversation with the speaker and each other.

In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn, a free small soda, a complimentary theatre cup. Plus $5 beer or wine (at the Illuminating Cinema event only).

Focus your appreciation for film with Illuminating Cinema!