Conrack (1974)

Conrack (1974)

Blu-ray Company Release: Twilight Time

Starring: Jon Voight, Paul Winfield, Madge Sinclair, Antonio Fargas, Hume Cronyn

Plot: The story follows a young teacher, Pat Conroy, 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. The school has only two rooms for all grades combined, with the Principal teaching grades one through fourth 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 and so he wishes to change that.

My Review and Thoughts:

Film (5/5)

This is a wonderful powerful film of extraordinary performances, direction, storytelling and most of all meaning. A must see film of a landmark truth and a brilliant cinematic piece of cinema history.

This stars the amazing wonderful actor Jon Voight. He is a true acting Pioneer.  He has always been a cinema figure to me throughout the movie world. Being in some of the greatest films of all time. He starred in my true personal favorite Midnight Cowboy. He is truly a gifted actor and award worthy performer. Many of his films such as the wonderful amazing awesome disturbing Deliverance (1972), Coming Home (1978) which won him his Academy award for best actor and his wonderful performance in 1979's The Champ. He is a master talent at acting.

This was directed by a truly wonderful director that we lost in 1990, Martin Ritt, he was truly a gifted man. A playwright, an actor but most of all a director is what he's remembered for. He mastered such greats as HUD, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Great White Hope, Sounder, Norma Rae, among many priceless others. What’s interested in reality is he directed the 1964 film The Outrage which is the American retelling of the classic masterpiece of Kurosawa's Rashomon. Sadly that crazy house of un-American activities committee in the 1950's started looking at this wonderful director and he became blacklisted by supporting supposedly the Communist Party. This was during a time that too many wonderful directors, actors, got that tag and destroyed them because of the stupidity of these lynch mob type people. He was blacklisted from television, he was not able to do anything on television again because of that blacklisting and so he returned to theater. Thankfully after the stupidity of the red scare movement in Hollywood which started to die down he was able to direct again.

When he started out his first directed movie was 1957's The Edge of the City which is an amazing film and after that he would go on to direct many, many more, including this powerhouse of a film. Now interesting is he directed 1976's The Front starring Woody Allen. This was the first feature film to talk about the blacklist. It was about how people would put their names on blacklisted writer’s screenplays so that the movies could be made.

This movie Conrack is based on the 1972 autobiographical book The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy. Conroy is possibly one of the greatest living writers of all time. He created such beautiful novels and memoirs from The Prince of Tides to The Great Santini, which both were created into award-winning Oscar-nominated films. What's interesting to note about Conroy is his stories are always emotionally charged and he states that the reason most of his stories involve this, is, it's because of his upbringing. His father was physically and emotionally abusive and so a lot of his pain goes into the characters and into the stories that he creates. The Water is Wide would go on to win Conroy a humanitarian award from the National Education Association and it was wonderful to see his book become this thought-provoking amazing wonderful and emotionally charged and touchy-film. If you have a chance pick up his books. He is truly possibly one of the greatest, existing, personal, and emotional storytellers ever. Many of his books contain his personal thoughts, his upbringing, and his childhood. You can see a lot of himself and a lot of his reality in his stories, specifically The Great Santini which is considered one of his greats. This book also caused a lot of friction in his family. His family felt that he spoke too much and the characters were based a lot on reality.

Now the story of Conrack talks about a small little island off of South Carolina. It's a poor island. There your character Conrack tries to communicate with the Islanders. They all are speaking basically in a dialect. All of them are descended from slaves and have no contact to the mainland of people. He wants to and tries and struggles to find a way to reach these people to teach them. Many of them are illiterate, many of them have no idea what's beyond their small little community. Conrack does battles with the principal because he uses unconventional methods. He believes the school and the principal don't wish to educate or help these individuals become educated. The administrator and principle basically ignore the problem of the school.

The book is categorized as nonfiction and sometimes categorized as a novel of fiction. More or less it’s autobiographical and talks about basically Conroy's struggle during his time there.

This movie also stars some wonderful African-American actors such as Paul Winfield. He started acting in the 1960's. He has done television and movies. He was always a wonderful character actor, always one of those characters in the background or the secondary character but also created very memorable performances throughout his career. I will always remember him as Terrell in Star Trek the Wrath of Khan. He was a master talent at acting in such greats like 1978's King where he played Rev. Martin Luther King in the wonderful miniseries. He captures perfectly his parts in, 72's Sounder, The Blue and the Grey Miniseries. Always a gifted character in many TV shows such as Wiseguy, 227, L.A. Law, Touched by an Angel and so many others. Sadly he passed away in 2004. He crafted the character of Mad Billy in Conrack in a wonderful detailed performance.

Also starring the wonderful beautiful and amazing Madge Sinclair as Mrs. Scott. She gives her all to this performance and creates a very memorable and truly brilliant stunning performance, as the school principal. Sadly she passed away in 1995. But if there ever was truly an actor that you should grace and should seek out, then it’s her performances. She was always stunning in just about everything she did. From small part to big part she captured and gave it her all 100% in everything. I will always remember her in the masterpiece, stunning, historical, wonderful 1977 Roots. She can also be remembered from countless television series such as Trapper John, M.D., Ohara, Gabriel's Fire, Pros and Cons and countless other TV shows and movie appearances. She also was the voice of Sarabi in Disney's Loin King. She will forever be remembered for her performances.

This also stars the one and only Antonio Fargas who has been acting since the early 60's. He will more or less be remembered as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch television series. Been in countless movies and TV series and he still is acting strong today.

But I have to mention this has one of my all-time favorite actors of any generation and it's none other than the masterpiece performer and gifted talented wonderful Hume Cronyn. He not only was one of my favorite actors of all time who sadly passed in 2003 but he was married to one of my favorite beautiful actresses and that was Jessica Tandy. He had style, such grace, and such emotions. He was structurally sound in his characters. He owned every part he did. He created every persona, every emotional trait to every character that he ever graced television or movies with. Started acting in the 40's and continued to act all the way up to 2003. His many talented performances in such awesome films as 1943's Shadow of a Doubt, 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1944's Lifeboat, 1985's Cocoon, 1987's Foxfire, 1987's Batteries not Included, 1988's Cocoon: The Return, 1993's To Dance with the White Dog. I miss his talent he was an extraordinary performer on screen.

I think what needs to be brought up about this story, about this concept of a teacher going to an unprivileged area, teaching illiterate students which society basically has given up on or basically doesn't want nothing to do with them. It shows you the beautiful nobility of a person that wants to teach, that wants to educate, and that wants to further one's future. To me there is nothing greater than a hero teacher. There is nothing greater than one who teaches. For without learning we are nothing. For we do not honor our teachers enough. Our teachers can create some of the greatest thinking minds of all time. Teachers can express love, can express the power of history, and can express the very makeup of the world into a child. Education is everything. Teaching is everything. To teach a proper education to someone, that is starving for knowledge is one of the most important, if not the important reality in life. The problem with society this day, is people aren't educated right anymore. People aren't given their full potential of knowledge anymore. We live in a society that teaches with computers and technology and yet does not teach the very fundamentals of writing one’s own signature or even counting with one's own thoughts or remembering historical education and narrative of life. We as a human race must learn, must educate and must further our reality and knowledge to grow and to succeed into a greater nation.

The character of Conrack wanted to teach his students, wanted to teach these illiterate pupils starving for truth and knowledge. He wanted to give them their full potential and that is the beauty of this film. It shows you the power of a teacher. The power of this teacher not wanting to give up on what he saw. To give up on a child, to give up on an individual starving for knowledge is wrong. He wanted to educate them to let them experience knowledge and not be denied it.

Martin Ritt creates a flawless atmosphere. The grand story telling of Pat Conroy is a thought provoking, mind numbing and it pulls at your emotions and your heartstrings. The beauty of this book is it's mixed with many genera's of writing, drama, history, reality and so much more that it creates its own little world of amazement. That amazing story is captured in this wonderful film.

This is a powerful movie that after watching it again after 20 years it still works in all its original ways. A flawless story of characters, situations and the struggle of a teachers dream. A pure tour-de-force of written quality that only a master storyteller can create and a master director who brought it to screen.

Rating the quality of the new limited edition Twilight Time Blu-Ray: Production of only 3,000 Units:

Audio/Video: (5/5)

Beautiful and new and fresh for this generation. A crisp vibrant colorful beauty once again. It’s an older filmed movie but the modern clarity worked in fixing many of the old style film. Audio is superb as always with these special edition Twilight Time Blu-rays.

Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.37:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Music: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Extras: (5/5)

Isolated Score Track also includes effects and is delivered via DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.

Theatrical Trailer (480p; 2:41)

Commentary with Paul Seydor and Nick Redman.

Isolated Music Track.

Overall Blu-ray Product: (5/5)

This is brought out by Twilight Time Special Edition 3,000 Unit Blu-ray. They have done it once again creating a masterful print and masterful audio. A wonderful and truly stunning film that should be owned by everyone if you get a chance to pick up this special edition by Twilight Time it should set with honors on your movie shelf. Twilight Time does such a fantastic job in isolating the music track and creating it beautifully on Blu-ray.

Wonderful movie, wonderful special edition Blu-ray.


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