Apocalyptic Dread: American Film at the Turn of the by Kirsten Moana Thompson

By Kirsten Moana Thompson

The ability and presence of dread in contemporary American cinema.

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And yet it is but a Thought, although one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. And this fall— this rushing annihilation—for the very reason that it involves that one most ghastly and loathsome to all the most ghastly and loathsome images of death and suffering which have ever presented themselves to our imagination—for this very cause do we now the most impetuously desire it.

Bowden is Cady’s defense attorney. ” Cady rapes sixteen-year-old, in Atlanta in 1977. Imprisoned for fourteen years. 1. Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) and Peggy Bowden (Polly Bergen) in Cape Fear (1962). © Universal Pictures/Photofest In 1962, the first cinematic Cape Fear was released amid the desegregation struggles in the South, and only six months later, its star Gregory Peck would play the defense attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962),3 an important film that directly addressed the question of race in the South.

The film’s opening bracket in which Danny suggests that the “lovely” Cape Fear River is mystifying in its ominous name self-reflexively begs the narrative question of just what did happen in Danny’s childhood. We recall that mystifying can mean something that is designed to be mysterious or obscure, and like a biblical prophecy offers signs that must be decoded. We are prompted to ask, Was Danny’s childhood the “magical world” she so lovingly recalls? ” Sam’s response is a terse “Oh, the houseboat,” as he continues striking a piano key that will not sound.

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