White Pat Conroy was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. In March, 1969 under the Beaufort School District, he starts a job teaching at a small poor school located on Daufuskie ... See full summary »
White Pat Conroy was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. In March, 1969 under the Beaufort School District, he starts a job teaching at a small poor school located on Daufuskie Island, an island in a South Carolina river delta, the island accessible only by boat. The island is inhabited exclusively by blacks. He quickly learns that his students, who have never left the island, lack not only a basic understanding of academic items such as the alphabet and simple arithmetic, but also of other basic necessities of life such as personal hygiene. They can't even pronounce his name, they who call him Conrack. The teachers before him, including the school principal Mrs. Scott, have always treated the students as being slow and basically unteachable of academics. Conrack, a free thinking man, decides to expose his students not only to the academic subjects, but also to the gamut of life skills from brushing one's teeth to human anatomy, and some of the fun things in life like ... Written by
In a 2007 interview on the Dennis Miller Radio Show, Jon Voight recalled a reunion that was held 20 years after the release of the movie, with all of the available actors. Of the 21 actors who portrayed students, at the time of the reunion, 3 were teachers. See more »
Pat Conroy is one of our most elegant writers, and his first book, a memoir of his adventure teaching a group of heart-breakingly neglected and ignorant black children on an island off the coast of South Carolina should be required upper-class reading for kids who have To Kill a Mockingbird under their belts.
Now, the movie: If you read the book, the movie will seem so Hollywoodized that you'll wonder who "cuted-up" Conrack (the kids' pronunciation for Conroy). Jon Voight is earnest and sweaty, and pulls off Conroy's youthful self-righteousness to a T, but Hume Cronyn is miscast as the evil, bigoted superintendent. The kids are strangely ignored here, although they are complex and fascinating in their own right in the book. Voight's teaching is the best part of this film, but Conroy's explanation to the white citizenry of why he should be retained--after annoying the county school administration for the last time--is destroyed by the ridiculous scene with Voight driving the streets of Buford, using a P.A. system on his hippiemobile to bludgeon bewildered suburbanites.
Hell, watch it anyway.
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