1974 Promotional Poster for "Conrack"
|Directed by||Martin Ritt|
Harriet Frank Jr.|
The Water Is Wide|
by Pat Conroy
|Music by||John Williams|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Edited by||Frank Bracht|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$2 million (US/ Canada)|
Conrack is a 1974 DeLuxe Color film in Panavision based on the 1972 autobiographical book The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy, directed by Martin Ritt and starring Jon Voight in the title role, alongside Paul Winfield, Madge Sinclair, Hume Cronyn and Antonio Fargas. The film was released by 20th Century Fox on March 27, 1974.
The story follows a young teacher, Pat Conroy (played by Jon Voight), in 1969 assigned to isolated "Yamacraw Island" off the coast of South Carolina and populated mostly by poor black families. He finds out that the children as well as the adults have been isolated from the rest of the world and speak a dialect called Gullah, with "Conrack" of the novel's title being the best they can do to pronounce his last name. The school has only two rooms for all grades combined, with the Principal (Madge Sinclair) teaching grades one through four and Conroy teaching the higher grades. Conroy discovers that the students aren't taught much and will have little hope of making a life in the larger world.
Conroy tries to teach them about the outside world but comes into conflict both with the principal and Mr. Skeffington (Hume Cronyn), the superintendent. This comes to a head when he takes them to Beaufort on the mainland to go trick-or-treating, which the superintendent has forbidden. He also must overcome parental fears of "the river." As a result, he's fired. As he leaves the island for the last time, the children come out to see him leave, bringing along a record player on which they play the beginning movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as he leaves.
- Jon Voight as Pat Conroy
- Paul Winfield as Mad Billy
- Madge Sinclair as Mrs. Scott (school principal)
- Tina Andrews as Mary
- Antonio Fargas as Quickfellow
- Ruth Attaway as Edna
- James O'Rear as Postman
- Gracia Lee as Mrs. Sellers
- C.P. MacDonald as Mr. Ryder
- Jane Moreland as Mrs. Webster
- Thomas Horton as Judge
- Nancy Butler as Mrs. Ryder
- Robert W. Page as Mr. Spaulding
- Hume Cronyn as Mr. Skeffington (school superintendent)
- Mac Arthur Nelson as Mac
- Kathyrn Turner as Katt
The film received a primarily positive response upon its release and currently has a "Fresh" score of 88% on reviewing site, Rotten Tomatoes. It has never been released on DVD though it remains available through other means, such as VHS as well as online streaming. Twilight Time released a limited edition (3,000 copies) Blu-ray version of the film in 2014.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Tommy Tedesco played guitar on the introduction theme.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
- Solomon p 232. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
- "Conrack: Limited Edition (Blu-ray): DVDTalk Review".
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.