CONRACK, directed by Martin Ritt; screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., based on the book "The Water is Wide" by Pat Conroy; director of photography, John Alonzo; film editor, Frank Bracht; music, John Williams...
Running time: 106 minutes. This film is classified PG.
Pat Conroy . . . . . Jon Voight
Mad Billy . . . . . Paul Winfield
Mrs. Scott . . . . . Madge Sinclair
Mary . . . . . Tina Andrews
Quickfellow . . . . . Antonio Fargas
Edna . . . . . Ruth Attaway
Little Man . . . . . James O'Reare
Skeffington . . . . . Hume Cronyn
Set in 1969, based on Pat Conroy's "The Water Is Wide," the movie details the experiences of a young teacher (Jon Voight), who takes on the fifth through eighth grades in a black school on an island off the coast of South Carolina. The picture revives the hopes and frustrations of the nineteen-sixties, including the idea that deprived people may be nourished by education...
Mr. Voight plays a teacher who is battling through the web of suspicion that confronts a white outsider. At first, he's equally shocked by his students' ignorance—the four oldest in the class think that the Civil War was fought by the Germans and the Japanese—and by the grim black woman principal, who tells him, "Treat your babies stern, treat 'em tough. . . . Put your foot on 'em and keep it there" (Madge Sinclair, in an excellent performance.)
Soon he wins over the wary children and proceeds to teach them about the pyramids and Babe Ruth, the lotus position, their own genitals, the law of gravity, swimming, Brahms and Beethoven, while building their egos and their expectations of themselves...
I personally love - love - love this movie. Find it - rent it - see it -- if you can.