Cape Fear is a classic film about a lawyer that must defend a convicted rapist. When he makes sure the man ends up behind bars, the criminal seeks revenge on the lawyer and his family. They try to escape on a boat trip but he follows them.
The original 1962 film stars Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Polly Bergen. The 1991 remake stars Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, and Juliette Lewis.
Both films used locations in the region. In the 1962 film, the majority of filming took place in Savannah and at the studio lot in California. Grove Point Plantation served as the Bowden home, but it’s a private event facility.
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Cape Fear (1962) Locations
Johnson Square was featured in exterior scenes in the movie. It is the oldest and largest of Savannah‘s many squares, dating back to 1733. It’s named for Robert Johnson, the Royal Governor of South Carolina. But despite its name, it contains a monument is to Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War hero,
Savannah City Hall
In the first film, Max Cady walks to court, played by Savannah’s iconic city hall building. Constructed with a gold dome, the current version was built in 1906 and sits on East Bay Street. There are free monthly tours of the historic city hall, which include the grand rotunda and artwork displays.
Isle of Hope Marina
The docks featured in the first Cape Fear, where the family escapes to a houseboat, are located at the real-life Isle of Hope Marina. The community is located outside of downtown Savannah and was settled by the British during the colonial era. Plantations like nearby Wormsloe were created and many of the structures still exist.
Visit this area on the Wormsloe Plantation and Isle of Hope Tour.
The Armstrong Kessler Mansion
The Armstrong Kessler Mansion served as the site of Nancy’s school in the original Cape Fear. It’s located at 447 Bull Street, across the street from the Oglethorpe Club. The Italian Renaissance Revival building was built around 1917 for George Ferguson Armstrong, whose family lived there until 1935.
It was later the campus of Armstrong Junior College and then sold to preservationist Jim Williams, of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame. Hotelier Richard Kessler purchased it in 2017, just down the street from his Mansion on Forsyth Park.
Max Cady walks through the iconic Forsyth Park, which has been featured heavily in countless films including The Longest Yard. The 30-acre city park was built in the 1830s and named for Governor John Forsyth. The layout and fountain are inspired by Place de la Concorde in Cusco, Peru and the fountain is dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day every year.
Cape Fear (1991) Locations
Everglades National Park
Many of the water scenes in the second Cape Fear version were in Everglades National Park, which spans over 1 million acres through South Florida. It contains some of the most unique species of animals and plants in the world like Florida panthers and manatees.
Visit the Florida Everglades on a Full Day Kayak Adventure in the Everglades.
The public college in Fort Lauderdale stands in as Danielle’s high school where Cady seduces her. It was established in 1959 as a two-year college. Downtown Hollywood, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, was used as the setting for the town of “New Essex.” And Seminole Indian Truck Stop in Weston, closer to the Everglades, is where Cady holds onto the truck.
Visit locations from other Savannah films on the Movie Tour of Savannah’s Historic District. Looking for a place to stay during your trip? Check out one of the historic inns like the Kehoe Inn, Mansion on Forsyth, and the President’s Quarters Inn.