Conrack (1974) - full transcript

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 classical music, art, baseball, movies, swimming (despite living on an island, the islanders live in fear of the river because they don't know how to swim) and Halloween. He does so with compassion and without being patronizing. His teaching methods come under question by both Mrs. Scott and the Beauford School District administration led by its superintendent, Mr. Skeffington. These differences in viewpoint may place Conrack's tenure at the school in jeopardy.

Good morning!

Looks like we got us a nice day, huh?

Are you, by any chance,
the welcoming committee?

I ain't no committee.

Still, it was nice of you to get
up so early and come down here.

I always gets up early.

Me, too. I'm afraid
I'll miss somethin'.

I guess I oughta
introduce myself.

I knows who you are.

Think it's gonna rain?

Don't rain much this time of year.

Well, I'm beginning to
run out of pleasantries.

So if you'll just point me
in the direction to town...

Good morning!

Good morning.

- I'm the new schoolteacher.
- Your hair is pretty long.

- I'm a let it grow 'til the war's over.
- It's liable to reach your ass, son.

Let's hope not.
Which way is the school, mister?

If you're here to teach,
I reckon you can read.

Welcome to Yamacraw Island.

Welcome overseas.

Thank you, ma'am.
It's great to be here.

Don't speak too quickly.

You're in a snake pit, son.

And them snakes are gonna
start snappin' at your toes.

I'm Mrs. Scott.
I'm the principal.

- Pat Conroy.
- Do you mind working for a woman?

No, ma'am. My father did it before
me and his father before him.

Do you mind working
for a black woman?

I'm here.

Treat your babies stern,
treat 'em tough.

Step on 'em. Step on 'em every
day when they get out of line.

Put your foot on them
and keep it there.

I know colored people
better than you do.

If you have any trouble,
Mama Scott will be right next door.

I'll holler.

Here are the babies now.
Yours is the fifth grade to eighth.

- Good morning, babies.
- Good morning.

Uh, babies.
I know you got vocal cords.

Let me hear you use 'em.

Let me hear you say, "Good
morning", like you mean it.

Good morning!

Most of you are slow.
All of us know that.

You don't think good.

That's because you're just lazy.


And lazy people
can't get ahead in life.

But you can learn if you work.

Work, work, work,
work, work!

I now have the privilege of
introducing Mr. Patroy to the class.

Mr. Patroy is so good to
come over here this spring

and take the place
of our Mrs. Frost

who's gone to have her
gall bladder taken out.

We are thankful that the Lord
brought Mr. Patroy to us.

That's enough!
Now, I don't wanna hear no more!

I said, quiet!

I'm now going to turn you
babies over to Mr. Patroy.

You're his

and he's yours.

I want y'all to take a
real long look at me.

That shouldn’t be any hardship

'cause I'm handsome.


A thousand years of Irish inbreeding
have produced these fine features.

This pug nose,
this pugnacious jaw.

Moreover, I have a penetrating wit,
a fanciful imagination,

and my eyes are almost
as blue as Paul Newman's.

I am your teacher!

- He crazy.
- Crazy.

As a loon.

- What're you talkin' about?
- What're you sayin'?

Never mind.

Haul your chairs up
around me right over here.

Just set 'em up around me here.

Here, I'll get that for you.

Let's get close.

Everybody move, now. C'mon.

Get as close as you can.
Hey, what're you talkin' about?

That's good.

You wanna sit on
that table there?

Young man, go ahead.

That's better.

Let's start with my name.

Various people are screwin' it up.
It's a swell name.

It belonged to a bartender, a minister,
a classic scholar, and a Burlesque queen.

It's Conroy.

Not Patroy. Pat Conroy.
Let me hear it!


- Me?
- Yeah, you.




Close, but not close enough.

Boy, ploy, toy, joy.

You try.


Take a big bite out of it.
Try to get your mouth around it.

Pretend you got a tennis
ball stuck in there.


C'mon, everybody try it.

Oy, oy. C'mon.
Oy, oy.

Oy, oy.

All right, you try it.



You know somethin'?
I'm beginning to like the sound of it.

What country do we live in, gang?
Everybody tell me at once.


What is the name of this grand old
red, white and blue country of ours?

The place where we live, land of the
free and the home of the brave?

Does anyone know what
country we live in?

Honey, how much is two and two?

How many fingers have
I got raised up here?


You only missed it by two.
Try again.


I'll tell you what. Start at this first
finger and count to the last one.


Mrs. Scott!

I just now completed my
first day in your school.

The hair on the back of
my neck is standing up.

Mrs. Scott, seven of my students
cannot recite the alphabet.

Three children cannot
spell their names.

Eighteen children do not know we're
fighting a war in Southeast Asia!

Eighteen children never heard of Asia.

One child thinks the Earth is flat.
The seventeen others agreed with him.

Two children don't know how old they are,
five children don't know their birthdays.

Four children can't count to ten.
The four oldest in the class

think the Civil War was fought
between the Germans and the Japanese!

None of them know who Willie Mays or
George Washington or Sidney Poitier is.

Not one of them's ever been to a movie or stood
on top of the hill or ridden on a city bus.

Those kids don't know crap!

Remember what I told you
about colored children?

They are slow. They need the whip.
They understand the whip.

We're off the old plantation, Mrs. Scott.

And I'll be goddamned if you're
gonna turn me into an overseer.

How's it goin' today?
Caught any big ones?

You've gotta stick with it.

You the new schoolteacher?

Yes, ma'am.

- I'm the midwife over here.
- Oh.

All these children on
this island my children.

I take 'em out of their mothers.
I see 'em when they first be born.

I bring 'em into this Earth.

- Now you got 'em.
- Yes, ma'am.

Treat 'em right,
and they'll do good for you.

- Yes, ma'am.
- Treat 'em right, and they'll do good for you.




Sit down.

Top Cat Jones!

Are you out of your mind?

Are you darin' to lift a finger
and lay it on our Mr. Patroy?

Conroy, goddammit!

Conrack hurts!

It wa- It wasn't him. It was me.
I felt like a little wrestling this morning.

Mr. Patroy, you have already lost
the respect of these children.

You have lowered yourself in their eyes.
They need discipline, not fun time.

- This school isn't any fun time, you know?
- I'm enjoying myself.

Well, you take Dr. Medicine
here and you give that boy a dose.

A good one,
one he'll remember.

You got to remember we are
overseas, Mr. Patroy.

And things are tough overseas!

Okay, gang, everybody sit down.

Y'all listen up now.

That little horseplay was designed
to get those old eyelids open,

get your blood pressure up,
get that gray matter perkin'.


we're gonna have a filibuster.

That's somethin' we do very
well here in the South.

It means a talkathon.
I'm gonna talk, and you're gonna listen.

Anybody has to go pee, do it now,
'cause we're gonna be at it all day.

All right.

I was born in Beaufort, South Carolina,
where I grew up and went to school.

I was a bigoted little boy.

Bigot, that's somebody with
a red neck and a small brain.

And I went to an all-white,
male military college

where I wore a uniform even
when I went to the latrine.

That's the toilet.

I ate a lotta grits,
smelled a lotta magnolias in my time.

I went to the movies twice a week.
My favorite actor was Humphrey Bogart.

He was my favorite 'cause he
never took any shit from anybody.

I learned about books

from the third baseman on my college
baseball team who read Milton.

And I learned about sex

from the girl next door to my house

who read Havelock Ellis.

I'm gonna be readin'
both of them to you.

I drive a small yellow car called a Volkswagen,
manufactured in a country called Germany

on a continent called Europe.

I write bad poetry, I write great
letters to newspaper editors.

I'm a hypochondriac, that's somebody who's
afraid he's dyin' every time he sneezes.

I believe in love of all kinds.
Carnal, platonic,




Goofin' off?

Just gettin' my supper.

How'd you like to get mine?

What you mean?

I need somebody to cook for me,
do the dishes, wash my clothes.

I need a little lookin' after.

- How much you gonna pay?
- How much you want?

A dollar.

- A week?
- No, man. A day.

I guess I can afford that,
if I cut down on my beer.

- All right, I'll give you a try.
- I take home the leftovers?

If you're a good cook,
there won't be any.

- You awake?
- I is now.

- What did you eat for breakfast?
- Piece o' bread, Coca-Cola.

Tomorrow, eat an egg. Eat two.
Protein gives you a slug of energy.

I want everybody here slugged.

What's all that racket?

Reveille, Mrs. Scott.
Just a small reveille.

Okay, gang.

I'd like to have a word with your
babies, Mr. Patroy.

Last night

I found a puddle on one
of the seats in here.

Now, babies, everybody has got to u-ri-nate.
Isn't that right?

And ain't nothing wrong
with a man urinating.

But you could ruin a
seat by urinating on it.

All of us know that urine
is made out of ...?


And acid can eat
right through a chair.

There's plenty of weak
bladders in the world.

The bladder is just like a muscle.
Some weak, some strong.

Now, whoever that person is who wet the
chair, and he knows who he is,

should stand up now and say,
"Mrs. Scott,

I have a weak bladder,
and I am very sorry."

Mrs. Scott, I have a weak
bladder, and I'm very sorry.

Okay. A-all right. A-all right.

What are you talking about?

I was the last person sittin'
in that chair yesterday.

Mr. Patroy, I got a right
side, and I got a wrong side.

And you are getting
on the wrong one.

Okay, gang.

Everybody's gonna look good today,
everybody's gonna shine like the sun.

Ronny, in your opinion,
who is the greatest man who ever lived?


All right, I'll buy that.
Now, somebody else.

Who's the second greatest?

Jesus Christ.

They're one and the same,
Debbie, Jesus and Jesus Christ.

Anybody wanna say a good
word for Moses or Buddha?

- No!
- No? Okay.

Let's go on.

Who can name me an ocean?

I'm gonna give you a hint:

One of the oceans of the
world washes right up against

the shores of our own
scenic Yamacraw Island.

Oh, he mean the beach!

What's beyond the beach? What's the name
given to that whole ocean out there?

It's just the beach, man.

Okay, it's the beach.

But just for the record,
it's also called the Atlantic Ocean.

- Have you ever heard it called that?
- No, we ain't, Conrack.

Well, don't worry about it.
That kinda stuff is easy to learn.

Just by rappin' about it,
we'll learn which ocean is off Yamacraw.

All right. Veola!
What is the name of the ocean?

Lantic Ocean.

- Atlantic Ocean.
- Atlantic Ocean.

- What ocean, everybody?
- Atlantic Ocean!

- Are you sure it's the Atlantic Ocean?
- Yeah, we sure.

Well, it's not. The real name of
the ocean is the Conroy Ocean.

Oh, no.

Yeah! Yeah, it's the truth!

My great-great grandfather was Ferdinand
Conroy, a Spanish soldier of fortune

who swam from Europe to North America,
a distance of fifteen million miles.

Because of this singular and
extraordinary feat, from that day forward,

it's been called the Conroy Ocean.

- No.
- How do you know?

Just think.
You said it was the Atlantic.

- I'm a liar.
- Can't be. You's a teacher.

Teachers lie all the time.

All right now.

The Lotus position of Yoga.

Yoga is a discipline aimed at the
state of perfect spiritual insight

and tranquility.

- Lord, look at him.
- Hey!

It's said to clear the mind

and drain... drain the sinus.

Gravity. A law first stated by Isaac Newton
and elaborated on by Johannes Kepler.

- Isaac Newton!
- Isaac Newton!

- Johannes Kepler!
- Johannes Kepler!

- Gravity!
- Gravity!

- Isaac Gravity!
- Isaac Gravity!

All right now.

Everybody brush down from the gum.
Down... down from the gum.

Now up... up from the bottom,
up from the gum, from the bottom.

Good. And now everybody...

Try not to spit on the teacher!

These are the worst biscuits I ever ate.

And I've been in the army!

You don't like 'em, don't eat 'em.

- What's in 'em?
- Done my own recipe.

So have I.
Come on in here.


- I don't cook fancy.
- You don't read fancy, either, do you?

All right.
This word is "cup."

"Two cups of flour."

This word is "teaspoon".
One teaspoon of baking powder.

This word is "pound".
A quarter pound of shortenin'.

Which word is "cup"?

I wanna talk to you!

You're standin' between me and my
pants, Mrs. Scott!

Salt water is good
for my mosquito bites.

Mr. Patroy.

We've got young
girls on this island.

Oh, you can't go scamperin'
around without your pants on.

- This ain't the Garden of Eden.
- Sure ain't, Mrs. Scott.

I can't allow a white boy and my colored
girls to go rubbin' elbows too much.

You're a young bull, Mr. Patroy, with no
cows on this island except colored cows.

But I can't afford to have no
half-breed cows on this island.

Please don't feel any anxiety, ma'am.
I was raised in the utmost strictness.

Besides, I'm shacked up with
a young actress in Beaufort.

I'm not an old maid, Mr. Patroy.

I was married once,
for twelve years.

He was a good little man.

A good little man,
I have to say so.

And after he died,
his brother wanted to marry me, too.

Put baking soda on your bites.

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying"

"And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying."

Robert Herrick.

Pretty good country poet.

Here we got

Sultana. Right here.

What's this one?

- Foxfire!
- Foxfire.

How about this here?

- Baby's breath.
- Right. Baby's breath.

This one?

Queen Anne's lace.

Queen Anne's lace.

"When gardens only had their towers,
And all the garrisons were flowers"

"When roses only arms might bear,
And men did rosy garlands wear?"

That means they were all flower children.
They had time write pretty words like that.

Who wrote that one down, Conrack?

Andrew Marvell.
Born 1621, died in 1678.

- What's this one?
- That's Everlasting.

Why'd they call it that?
Do it last forever?

Forever and ever. Amen.

I'll keep it and see.

Get off my land, white folks!

Actually, we're mostly black, mister.

Did you hear what I said?
I said, clear off my land, now!

We're just pickin' a few wildflowers
here, no harm... Ugh!

- Who the hell was that?
- That's Mad Billy.

What's he mad about?

- His wife died on him.
- Yeah, Sookie take the crook and die.

Her ghost come around and carry
on every night to spook him.

Oh God. I so scared,
I wouldn't want no ghost to get me.

Me, neither.
Let's get outta here. C'mon.

- Conrack?
- Yeah.

Come on, let's go!

Well, hello there!

I just brought your lunch.
Forgot it.

Stick around.
See what's goin' on.

Take a seat there,
next to your little brother.

I ain't sittin' next to him.
He don't never take no bath.

Sit next to me.
I do.

I got things to do.

We're talkin' about the human body.

You got one. Why not hang around
and find out how it works?

So here we have nature
at the top of her form.

Efficient, awe-inspiring,
the source of a lot of human happiness.

This is what the uterus
looks like, sort of.

It receives and holds
a fertilized ovum.

I don't believe I'm doin' justice to
what is probably the greatest design

since the rotary engine.

Why can't I get you in
school and keep you there?

Why are you the toughest
nut I got to crack?

Cause I hates her, that's why.

Mrs. Scott is not your
teacher, I am.

Well, a teacher oughta act like
she likes you even if she don't.

She shouldn't go round
knockin' you on your head

and talkin' back atcha in front of
folks tryin' to make you look small.

God made all of us. He ain't made
a few and somebody else made some.

No, he made all of us!

All right, get away from that window!

So very nice!

So very nice!

So pleased to make your acquaintance.

I'm so pleased to tell you that the chillun
seem to think you are a fine gentleman.

A fine gentleman.

So very nice.

- So pleased to make your acquaintance.
- Same here.

The name's Quickfellow.

I believe there'll be a storm.

Temperature: 93 degrees
and slightly falling.

Relative humidity: 87% and rising.

Scattered thundershowers
early this evening.

Winds out of the East
at 15 miles an hour.

Small boat warnings
out for small boats.

Big boats okay.
Don't have to worry about nutting.

"Lift every voice and sing
'Til earth and heaven ring"

"Ring with the
harmony of Liberty"

"Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies"

"Let it resound loud
as the rolling sea"

"Sing a song full of the faith
that the dark past has taught us"

"Sing a song full of the hope
that the present has brought us"

"Facing the rising sun"

"Of our new day..."

Better late than never.
Take a chair.

Hey, where ya goin'?
Wait a minute.

I comin' into school,
everybody's got shoes on 'cept me.

I think that's trashy,
goin' round barefooted.

All right, everybody
peel outta their shoes!

Let's liberate our bunions, let's aerate our
corns and calluses, let's wiggle our toes!

Wiggle your toes!
C'mon, lemme see 'em.

Lemme see those toes!

Come on, get on that table
and wiggle those toes!

C'mon, Ronnie, get up!

How many toes you got?

- Mac Arthur!
- Ten toes.

Wiggle 'em! Wiggle them toes!

Where's your half of the rent?

We have the pleasure today of
a visit from Mr. Skeffington.

Come all the way from the mainland
to spend some time with us.

Mr. Skeffington breathes the
pure air of Mount Parnassus.

He's our school superintendent.

He hires and fires,
tells the Board of Education what's what

and reminds teachers of the
nobility of their calling.

He's my boss.

For God's sake, do good.

All right.
Up here.

What is this?

I don't know, Conrack.

That's a pyramid, Rosemary.

They used to bury kings in those
things thousands of years ago.

In a country called Egypt.

All right, John!
Who is this?

I don't know, Conrack.

You guys are gonna put me
in the unemployment line.

That's Babe Ruth, one of the greatest
ball players that ever lived.

He used to play for the New York
Yankees, he hit 714 home runs

in his career, more than anybody
in the history of baseball.

He playin' now?

No, he's dead now.

Yeah, stupid, he dead.

That man live!

Johnny think that man live!

Shut your yaps and listen to me!

There ain't gonna be no more fights
in Yamacraw Elementary School.


I'm gonna tell you why.

Cause I got a method that can render
Samson hairless and Goliath helpless.

I'm now gonna demonstrate.

This is called "milkin' the rat".

You press the fingernail of your
opponent's finger with your thumb.

Your index finger squeezes the back
of the top joint of his finger.

Your thumb mashes his fingernail,
causing considerable consternation and pain.

Yes, sir.
"Milkin' the rat".

Guaranteed to break up fights, rebellions
and mutinies in any classroom anywhere.

Go on with your lesson, Pat.

We're all listenin' now.

In the light of that demonstration, it seems
appropriate to talk about Atilla the Hun.

Where can we get ourselves a
nice, long, cold beer?

We can get a short, warm,
dusty one at the grocery store.

"Many of these people arrived
in Washington last night..."

There's a bunch o' nans!

And that's Dr. Spock! I recognize him.

Look at those long-haired freaks.

Can't tell if they're boys or girls.


Look at that hippie with the
flag sewed to his behind.


All the others are lice.

Huntley and Brinkley
are lice, too.

They ain't supportin'
our boys in Vietnam.

Naw, they're lice.
All communists, sure as hell.

Look at those long-haired lice.

I wouldn't give those lice a drink
of piss if they were dying of thirst.

God Almighty!

I think that's my own son!

It is! He's right there,
with the beard!

Yeah, he is.

It's Ralphie.

I suppose I sounded a little
overheated back there.

Well, it's just that
I love this country.

I love the glory of
Fort Sumter and Bull Run.

I never in my...

I never in my heart
accepted Appomatox.

Dammit, Pat! Aren't the important
things order and control?

Obedience and smooth sailin'?!

Camelot is beleaguered,
Mr. Skeffington!

Hey, I ain't gonna hurt you none!

I ain't gonna give
you the chance.

Aw, listen, I-I, like I was outta my
head last time. I'd hurt about my Libby.

I heard about your wife.
I'm sorry.


She wasn't more than
twenty years old.

You drink whiskey?

If it's cheap enough.

I makes it.

I makes it, and I sells it.

I sells it out of my shirt front
in these half-pint bottles.

Oh, people rather see me
comin' than the milkman.

You wanna taste?

You that new
schoolteacher, ain't you?

That's right.

You know your business.

You teach me to read 'n' write,
and I'll trade that whiskey for it.

I makes it with that copper tubin'.

That way your ass don't get
blind at drinkin' this stuff.

I never seen anything so brutal,
so dangerous or so insane in my whole life!

Goddammit, this is football!

It's a game of rules,
fair play and sportsmanship!

It is a noble game

in which gentlemen and athletes
conduct themselves in a proper manner

on a field of honor.

It is a... ballet!

A clash of wills, a test of strength!
It partakes of elegance,

courage and discipline!
And that's the way we're gonna play it!

Now, you mothers get your
knees out of each other's groins

and your teeth out
of each other's butts

and do what I tell ya!


All right. This is where you get the
words, like Moses comin' down from Sinai.

It's holy writ, and nobody does
any talkin' but the quarterback.

Break! Hop! Go!

You come at me,
do as good as you can!

All right, you're the Maginot line!

You're the Great Wall of China!

You're a brick shithouse!

Even if your crotch
itches, you don't scratch.

Nobody moves 'til
the ball is snapped.

That's it! It's over!
Gimme the ball!

That's it.
It's over.

You guys are unteachable!


Sit down.

I helped myself to some of your buttermilk.
This is the end of it.

- Make yourself at home, sir.
- This visit ain't social.

It's a pain in the ass.
Took me off the golf course.

- Oh, what do you go a round in?
- Under 80. Never mind about that.

I'm up at five,
I'm shaved at six,

I'm at my desk at seven with
all my pencils sharpened.

Why ain't you?

- Who says I'm not?
- I've been informed.

Who informed ya?

Well, let's just say I've been
informed and leave it at that.

No, just tell me who informed
ya and leave it at that.

Are you late for
class or aren'tcha?

I was once. My toilet overflowed, and I
spent the morning using the plunger on it.

- Does it work now?
- No, it doesn't.

Use some plumber's friend on
it, it'll open it right up.

Thanks anyway, but I dug a slit trench.


Heard you stuck a feather in your hair and
wahooped round your class.

Heard you come in there barefoot.
Heard you drew private parts on the blackboard.

You call that teachin'?

- Yes, sir.
- Well, I don't. I call it fartin' around.

Something's happening on this
island, Mr. Skeffington.

And compared to that,
you're nothing, and neither am I.

I don't wanna have to
come over here again, Pat.

I get seasick making that crossin'.

"A little red hen once"

"f-f-found a grain of wheat."

"'Who will plant this
wheat?' she asked."

"'I won't,' said the dog.
'I won't,' said the cat."

"'And I won't', said the pig."

- Good.
- That right?

You'll be readin'
Playboy by next week.

And I sure hope it got
more to it than this.

It has.

- What you doin' here, Conrack?
- Fishin'.

I know. I mean, what you
doin' here on this island?

You the only white man here.

I mean, except for Ryder,
he's only here 'cause his store is.

Well, I'll tell ya.

I used to

chuck watermelons at black
kids, call them "niggerheads".

Then I did a 180-degree turn,

and if a black man handed me a bucket
of cow piss and told me to drink it,

to rid my soul of the stench of
racism, I'd only ask him for a straw.

Now I'm just teachin' school.



- You ever been off this island?
- No.

You ever wanna get off it?


You don't wanna see
the rest of the world?

The porno pics, used-car lots,
Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried?


I can get my shoelaces here.
Tobacco and combs and...

linen and cheap candy.

Shit, and now I can read.

Look like you got somethin', huh?

There ain't a family on this island that hasn't
pulled somebody - somebody - from that river.

They fall in that river,
they go down, like a stone.

Well, I can't swim neither.

Ain't nobody 'round here can.

Hell, what're you doin'?
I can't swim!

You know, I could drown in that river?
Let me go!

Fuckin' hell! Please help me!

- You're goin' in that water.
- No!

You're gonna kick your feet,
you're gonna pound your hands,

you're gonna suck in air,
and you're gonna swim.

- No!
- Okay. Hold your breath now!

All right. C'mere.

C'mon. Come towards me.

Kick your feet. Kick your feet.
Now clap your hands.

C'mon. You wanna sock me?
Come get me. C'mon.


There. Wasn't that fun?

You dirty son of a bitch!

No profanity!

Just proficiency.

All right.

Keep tryin'.

Let's go. C'mon, everybody in!

You can stand there.

Okay. C'mon.
Come on in the water.

Ronnie, come here.
Stay in that water.

Mary, stay in that water.

You reach out and you grab a
cup of water like that

and push it back behind you and then
throw it out behind you like that.

Throw it out behind you like that.
Then you reach with your other arm

and grab another cup of water. See?
And push it out behind like that.

Another cup of water. See?

Yeah, that's good, pal.

Kick your feet! C'mon!

Attaboy, Mac.

All right.

"Black, black, black is the
color of my true love's hair"

"Her lips like some rosy fair"

"The prettiest face
and the neatest hands"

"I love the ground
whereon she stands"

"I love the ground
whereon she stands"

Yo, man, you sing like a frog!

Oh, that boy say Conrack
sing like a frog.

No, I sing good.
What're you talkin' about?

You sing so bad, Conrack,
man, you hurt my ear.

- Everybody warm now?
- Yeah, we warm.


If you think you're rid of me
for the summer, you're not.

Summer school starts
Monday morning.

How many of you
are gonna show up?

Only three, huh?

I believe in democracy.
We're gonna vote again.

However, any arm I will see raised in
the air this time is gonna get broken.

Now, how many of you
come to summer school?

That is unanimous, and I must say,

it's extremely gratifyin' for me to find that
my students share my enthusiasm for learning.

This hunk o' orange on the
map is the country of Brazil.

Now, what bright, young scholar can tell
me what product we drink from Brazil?

Some people drink it black,
some people drink it with cream.

Some people drink it with sugar,
and some people...

don't drink it at all.


Mr. Patroy!
Mr. Patroy!

Where are you?

Right over here, Mrs. Scott.
Eatin' popcorn.

What's happenin' in here?

Well, Mr. George Sanders is just about to
be run through the gut by Mr. Tyrone Power.

Where'd you find
all this equipment?

In the back of a
closet, getting dusty.

I don't hold with machine education,
Mr. Patroy. You're wasting valuable time.

Your job is to see that these children
learn their lessons and do their duty.

The smell in here would drive
a preacher outta church.

Smellin' bad in school will not be tolerated.
I'm tired of people stinking in this school.

Mrs. Scott, your tact is only
exceeded by your delicacy.

We thank you for makin' us
all aware of our armpits

and now, if you don't mind,
we'd like to see how the movie ends.

Just remember that I'm the principal here,
Mr. Patroy. I'm the principal.

She ain't got no right
to say things like that.

She sure don't.

- Don't listen.
- She ain't talkin' 'bout you.

Good point.

But I don't like to see you get your
feelings hurt, believe me. It pisses me off.

- Bitch woman.
- Yeah, bitch woman.

How about you call me
"bitch man" behind my back?

No, Conrack.

Who are you?
I got a gun pointed at your head.

It's me, Conroy! Goddammit!

I keep fire handy all the
time, Mr. Patroy.

Never know who's gonna come
up to your house at night.

And if you're smart,
you get some fire, too.

I'd rather have a cup of coffee, Mrs. Scott.

- You make these with molasses?
- Yes.

And a pinch of cinammon
and a pinch of nutmeg.

I use a little ginger myself.

I don't like ginger.

That was a lousy thing
you did this afternoon.

I'm makin' 'em tough, Mr. Patroy.
Cause it is tough.

You're trompin' on 'em.

What do you know about it?

They are going out into a world
where they gotta go by the man.

They gotta please the
man and see him smile.

That's a crock o' shit, Mrs. Scott.

You're young, and you're cocky,
and you got that thin white skin.

Well that's just fine for you.
I don't have your advantages.

I've always known I was colored.

When I was a negro,
I knew I was colored.

And now that I'm black,
I know which color that is.

So I just try to please the man,
and everything rolls along just fine.

Thank you.

That's called "The Flight of the Bumble-Bee",
by Rimsky-Korsakov.

- Did you hear them bees in it?
- Just like a honey tree.

Any honey trees on Yamacraw?

Yeah, there are honey trees.
On the beach, too.

- Bees sting.
- Bees sting bad.

Who wrote this song
about a lotta bees?

Ricky Horse-a-cop!

Yeah, that's ol' Ricky, all right.

Gang, we're gonna learn
all these records.

We're gonna look like geniuses
when we know all these songs.

Visitors are gonna come here,
expecting nothing but stupidity and poverty.

I'm gonna switch on
this record player.

You're gonna look those
people right in the eye

and exclaim, "Are you perchance...

familiar with the works
of Rimsky-Korsakov?"

We'll knock their behinds off.
Now... here we got something very sweet.

Brahms' "Lullaby".

You don't need any Seconal,
any Phenobarb, or any Miltown.

You just drop this on,
and the Sandman's got you.

Go to sleep.

You gonna remember
this sleepy-time cat?

- He Brahm.
- Yeah, he Brahms.


We'll get back to him later.

Here we got the big
daddy of 'em all.

On the top ten 'til
the end of time.

He's a long-haired
cat named Beethoven.

- Let me hear his name.
- Beetcloven.

- Cloven?
- Yeah, cloven.

That's close enough.

Now, one of Beethoven's
most famous songs

was the 5th Symphony.

It was written about death.

Death knockin' at the door.

Death, that grim, grim reaper

comin' to the house and
rappin' at the door.

Does death come to
everybody's door sometime?

Yeah, death come knockin' at
Mad Billy's door last winter.

Well, Beethoven thought
a little bit about death

and then decided

that if death
were really knockin' at the door,

he'd sound somethin' like this.


I'm gonna put the
needle on this record.

And we're all gonna hear death

knockin' at Beetcloven's door.

Do you hear that rotten death?

Do you hear old bloodsucker
Death, that son of a bitch?

- Yeah, I hear him.
- Me, too.

That ol' Beetcloven is furious.

Beetcloven would be proud of you,
Willie Mays would be proud of you.

And from now on,
we're gonna be proud of ourselves.

We're going up the hill, gang!

A foot may slip here or there,
but nobody's gonna fall!

Whatcha doin'?


That's sewin'.

That's right.

- Women sew.
- Well, there's a whole new thing goin' on.

Men do things women do,
and women do things men do.

I'm makin' a pillow.

You know that Mr. Quickfellow?

Yeah, I know him.
What about him?

Why, he say I wake
up the devil in him,

and that there ain't but one
way to lay that down again,

and that's for me to go up there
to his house and live with him.

- Does he know you're thirteen years old?
- Yeah, he know.

Say he gonna get my daddy a new plough.
Fix up my brother's teeth.

What's he gonna do for you?

He'll give me a new red dress.

He'd be gettin'
you pretty cheap.

Well, it ain't no
bidness of yours nohow.

All right, go ahead. Throw your books in the
river, go back to countin' on your fingers.

Have fourteen kids in a row,
look sixty when you're thirty.

- Let your brain rotten in your skull.
- Why do you always pick on me?

Because the gospel according to Conrack is "I
will". Higher, stronger, faster, better!

Not a floor scrubber but Wanda Lendowska,
not a diaper changer but Marian Anderson.

Not a pig slopper but Mary McLeod Bethune.

Not a fry cook but Eleanor Roosevelt.

"Aut Caesar aut nullus" - that's Latin -
"Either a Caesar or a nobody."

"Grandma, Grandma, you ain't sick,
All you need is a hickory stick!"

"Hands up, shake, shake, shake, shake,
Hands down, shake, shake, shake, shake."

That's the littlest pinky I ever seen.

Yeah, that pinky's about as
big as a dried-up raisin.

How do you find that little pinky
when you go lookin' for it?

All right, you little skunks, knock it off!
Everybody shut up!

On the outside of every men's room
in the world is the word "Gentlemen".

I'll tell you what that means.

A gentleman treats his fellow man with
respect for his person and for his dignity.

He doesn't slander his religion,
his color or his pecker.

And if he does any of these things around me,
I'm gonna lay this fist 'longside his jaw.

Now get outta here!

Button up, Mac Arthur.

And listen to me.

I been in a lot of locker rooms.

And I can tell you that for your age and size,
what you got there is a baseball bat.

What's the longest stinkin' river in the
whole wide world?

The Nile!

- What continent is it on?
- Africa!

- Who comes from Africa?
- Black people!

- I came from Africa!
- No!

Yeah, I came from Africa 'cause
I'm white with blue eyes!

- Ireland is a country in Africa!
- No!

- James Brown came from Ireland!
- No!

- What's the largest planet in the universe?
- Jupiter!

- Second largest?
- Saturn!

- Nearest star?
- The sun!

- The largest country in the world?
- Russia!

- Country with the most people!
- China!

- James Brown came from China!
- No!

- Who was the first president?
- George Washington!

- The second president was Pat Conroy!
- You crazy!

- Who crazy?
- You crazy!

- What country do we live in, gang?
- The United States of America!

- What state do we live in?
- South Carolina!

- You sure?
- Yeah, we sure!

- Where are we fightin' a war?
- Vietnam!

- Who's the president of Vietnam?
- Ho Chi Minh!

- Who?
- Ho Chi Minh!

- What's James Brown's greatest song?
- "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud"!

No, it's not! His greatest song is
"Say It Loud, I'm White and I'm Proud!"

No, it's not!

You see?

He's tuckin' away for winter.

Hey, gang! See this fella over here?
We got a visitor.

We got an armadillo.
A genuine armadillo.

This is a good time of year.

Things slow down.
Shadow begins to stretch longer and longer.

Trees lose their leaves.
You begin to see the skeleton of nature.

And that reminds me.
Hey, gang!

What are we doin'
on October 31st?

- Nuttin'.
- October 31st?

Come on, man!
Something's goin' on on October 31st.

- What's that?
- A holiday.

A holiday?

Yeah, where you go from door to door
with bags in your grubby little hands.

- What you talkin' about, Conrack?
- Yeah, what you talkin about?

Haven't you guys ever
heard of Halloween?

- Halloween?
- No, we ain't heard.

You mean to tell me

that you never dressed up like Frankenstein
and went out trick-or-treatin'?

Man crazy.

- Trick-or-treatin'?
- Frankenstein?

You have never gone out and rung bells and
been handed Candy Corn and all-day suckers,

peanut butter cups and
bubblegum and Fig Newtons?

- Bubblegum? No!
- No, we ain't had that.


That is ridiculous!

That is completely ridiculous.
That is un-American!

And completely ridiculous.

Halloween is one of the truly
great parts of bein' a kid.

I never heard of it.

- We're going to Beaufort.
- Beaufort?


Yeah, we're gonna go there!
And we're gonna ring... Hey!

We're gonna ring
every bell in town.

And we're gonna rot our
teeth and stuff our guts

and we're gonna participate
in this great celebration,

or my name isn't
Patroy Conrack Conroy!

Which it isn't.

- How we goin'?
- Yeah, how we goin'?

We are goin' in a balloon.

Okay. We're goin' in
my private submarine.

What's a submarine?

A submarine is a boat
that goes under the water.

Just like, you see, Veola's hair?

That little periscope she
got stickin' up there?

We're gonna go under the water, take a
deep breath, and we're on to Beaufort.

- Pat Conroy!
- Hello, Mr. Spaulding.

- Haven't seen you in some time, Pat.
- I've been away, teachin'.

That's splendid.

I'm bringing' my kids
to Beaufort for Halloween.

I gotta sleep 'em someplace.

Could you and Mrs. Spaulding find
room for two of 'em just for one night?

It's a big house.
I should think so.

They're black.

- You say these little children are black?
- As the ace of spades, Mrs. Webster.

Well, I s'pose it would
be the right thing to do.

Then do it.

I couldn't do it on my own.
I'd have to consult my husband.

I'll call back.

They can sleep in Freddy's room. He's gone
off on a commune in Oregon somewhere.

Thank you, Mrs. Sellers.

Uh... they don't wet their
beds, do they?

Not to my knowledge, ma'am.

That's good.


What do you want, Pat?

How did you know it was me?

You're the only one I know who'd
get up to such foolishness.

It's for Halloween.
I'm bringin' my kids over here.

A trip like that ain't
worth a pound of cow dung.

Those kids don't need trips.
They need fundamentals.

They need drill, and more drill.

That's what you think they need.
It's not what I think they need.

Now, listen here.

Last Christmas I sent two big turkeys out of
my freezer over to those children on Yamacraw.

And I'm willin' to send ten pounds
of penny candy for Halloween.

But I don't want 'em
shovin' and pushin' and...

runnin' wild in Beaufort.

That clear to you?

Mr. Skeffington,
those kids are my responsibility.

And it's up to me to decide
how best to educate them.

Now look, boy.

This is my bailiwick.

This is my cotton patch,
and you're my hired hand.

You stay on the other
side of that river,

or by God you're gonna see a
side of me you never seen before.


Those kids are gonna spend Halloween the
way the rest of the kids in America spend it.

And if you want to raise hell about it,

then raise it.

Thank you, Frieda.

- What's happenin' with you guys?
- Can't go.

- What're you talkin' about?
- Ain't goin'.

What do you mean, "ain't goin"?

We're all goin'.
It's all planned.

- Not goin' nowhere.
- Be right here.

What happened?

My grandmother just laugh
when I say we goin'.

My mama just say no.

They ain't gonna let you go trick-or-treatin'?
That's just crap.

My mama tell me
not to bother her.

Go home tonight,

sit down in the
middle of the kitchen

beat your fists on the
floor, kick your feet,

hold your breath 'til your eyes pop
out and refuse all food and drink.

My mama kill me if I
do somethin' like that.

- You go tell 'em, Conrack.
- Yeah, you go tell 'em.

We're goin'.

Don't worry.



Hey! Hey! Back in the house!
Come on! Go on back in.

Go on back.
Go on back.

Hey! Go on back into the house.
Come on. Come on.

Come on. Back in. Back in.

You all right now, man.
Come on down.

What do you want from Edna?

I wanna talk to you about your
grandchildren who are in my class at school.


God Almighty!
You Mr. Conrack!

- Yes, ma'am.
- Oh God, Mr. Conrack.

My grands love Mr. Conrack!
So that's who you are.

- The white schoolteacher.
- Yes, ma'am. That's who I am.

- People say you a wonderful teacher.
- Thank you very much, Mrs. Graves.

- God, you a good-lookin' teacher.
- I'm delighted you think so.

Yes, you a fine-lookin' teacher.
You a fine-lookin' man.

You got a nice face
for a white teacher.

Actually, some people think
I got a nose like a pig.

Oh, no, you got a beautiful nose.

Pig nose look so bad.

Yes, I'm certified good-lookin'.
Are you g-

Are you gonna let me take your
grandchildren to Beaufort for Halloween?

No, I ain't.

You are the queen bee around
here, Mrs. Graves.

If you say yes,
they'll all say yes.

I say no.

Mrs. Graves...

Beaufort's got a public library,

a county courthouse,

a movin' picture show, and a park.

I'm afraid of the river.

I lose three family in the river.

I ain't gonna lose no
grands to that river.

Nothin' will happen to 'em.

I'll watch 'em night and day.

May God take my left testicle if I
don't bring 'em back safe and sound.

You a good-lookin' white man.

- Are you startin' that again?
- Yes, you sure good-lookin'.

Well... Edna. I'm sure glad you like my
looks, 'cause I sure do like yours.

- How about...
- Look out!

Here come them dogs again!

What's them old lines for?

What old lines?

Those old lines
all over the road.

Oh, you mean the lines
that divide the highway?

They tell the driver which side
of the road he can stay on.

Lines with spaces between 'em tell
the driver he can pass another car.

Somebody had to walk a
long way to paint 'em on.

- This sure is a fine town.
- This the best town I ever seen.

This the only town you ever
see, you big fool.

You call me a fool,
I bust your head.

All right. Ready!



You can do that again, son.


Who can tell me what that means?

Come on.

We does what you tells us, Conrack,
and when we's old, we still does it.


Either you're one of the great ass-kissers
of the world or you finally learned to read.

Who has to use the bathroom?

this is as good a place as any.

Boys to the right,
girls to the left.

There you go.

- Everybody wash your hands!
- Okay!

You look terrific.

The girls are beautiful,
and the boys are groovy.

Now, listen.

Be nice to everybody,
be polite and say thank you.

But if they turn you
away empty-handed,

we're gonna soap their windows
and dump their garbage.

Okay, gang. Good luck.

Say thank you to Mrs.
Sellers on your way out.

- Thank you, Mrs. Sellers.
- Thank you.

- Thank you, Mrs. Sellers.
- You're welcome!

- Trick or treat, trick or treat...
- Trick or treat, trick or treat...

- Thank you!
- Thank you!

- Trick or treat...
- Trick or treat...

Trick or treat! Trick or treat!

My, my, my,
what do we have here?

I don't know whether to be scared out
of my wits or charmed out of my shoes.

I guess I just have to pass out
chocolate kisses and sugar cookies.

Good evenin', Pat.

Evening, Mr. Skeffington.

Don't let 'em eat too much.

They'll get a tummy ache.


All right.

"On the good ship Lollipop
It’s a sweet trip to the candy shop"

"Where the bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay."

"Lemonade stands everywhere,
Crackerjack bands fill the air."

"And there you are
Happy landin' on a chocolate bar."

"On the good ship Lollipop
It’s a sweet trip to the candy shop"

- I'm fired.
- Tsk, tsk, that's a shame.

Buddy, you don't get
a tip for this one.

Only one thing to do!

What's that? We listenin'!

- We gonna strike the school!
- Yeah!

Ain't no children gonna go
to that schoolhouse door!


That ol' schoolhouse is gonna look
mighty empty with no children in it.

Anybody... anybody send
their children to school,

- they get beat up!
- Right!

We beat up anyone
who break the strike!

We beat 'em...
we beat 'em with sticks!

I got a big stick, too!
Don't you worry!

Edna, I appreciate the support,
but if you strike the school,

you're gonna have the sheriff comin' over
here and threatenin' to put you in jail.

I tell that sheriff

- to get his ass outta my yard!
- Yeah!

I tell him he can put Edna under
the jail for ninety-nine years!

Our children don't go to no
schoolhouse 'til Conrack in it!



I'm not scolding, Mr. Patroy.

But you did go swimming naked
where everybody could see you.

You did cuss in
front of your babies.

You bought moonshine whiskey.

And you tacked up a picture of a
woman's bare vagina in your classroom.

- That was a Picasso, Mrs. Scott!
- It was a woman's bare vagina.

You'll get on someplace else.

I don't wanna be anyplace else.

Then why don't you fight
them, Mr. Patroy? I would.

I thought you'd be glad
to see me go, Mrs. Scott.

Oh... you's all right.

We had our... ups and downs.

But I know you love the babies.


This little fella could eat four
heads of lettuce if I let him.

Mr. Skeffington,
I want my job back.

I know you do, son.

You could bawl me out.

You could put it on my record that
I'm an incorrigible son of a bitch.

You can cut off my teacher's
pension, but I want my job back.

Don't shout around these little bunnies.
It scares 'em.

I got some testimonials here.

I'd like to read 'em to you.

Let me see 'em.

Spelling's terrible!

But the sentiments, Mr. Skeffington.

- The sentiments.
- Oh, they like ya.

I like you, too.
Never said I didn't.

Look, Mr. Skeffington. One of these
days, you're gonna sink into old age.

Well, I'll be a comfort
to that old age.

I'll get married, bring a baby by to dandle on
your knee and spit on your vest.

Come by every Sunday for dinner.
Help you weed the lawn.

When you take to a wheelchair,
tuck a blanket round your knees.

Push you down the road.

Cry like hell at your funeral.
Just give me back my job.


I'm gonna replace you just as
easy as I would a lightbulb.

With what?

Well, it won't be with
no outside agitator.

Or no communist
trained in Atlanta.

What're you talkin' about?
I never even been to Miami!

You think rules and regulations are all
bullcrap, so you just go your own way.

But if you're gonna survive
in this world, young man,

you're gonna have to accept bullcrap.

Well, sir...

As long as you’re
prepared to accept crap,

I think I oughta tell you that that
rabbit has just done it in your lap.

I didn't have this young man's privileges.
I came up the hard way.

I worked in a mill.

One night I stepped outside.

I fell to my knees,
and I prayed to Jesus

and asked him what he
wanted me to do with my life.

And he said, "Teach."

And so I did.
For forty years.

Now, along comes this youngster.

He doesn't work with the chain of command.
He doesn't communicate.

He wants to denounce the old values,
he wants to erode the old values.

He wants to change everything,
with a quick chop to the gonads.

I'm not gonna let him.

You have no lesser
punishment than a dismissal?

You mean, if he's late to
school a couple of times,

you have no punishment like docking
his pay or reducing his leave time?

Our teachers all obey the rules, sir.

We never have to discipline.

Well, son...

I'm sorry.

The superintendent has the right to fire
any teacher that he considers undesirable.

And that's the law.
It's very simple.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I don't mean to take you
away from your daily routine.

I know you got stores to open, clothes to
wash, marketing to do and other chores.

But I just lost my
job, and I wanna talk.

My name is Pat Conroy.

I was paid $510 a month

to teach a bunch of kids on a little island
off this coast how to read and write.

I also tried to teach 'em to...

embrace life openly, to reflect upon its
mysteries and to reject its cruelties.

The school board of this fast city

thinks that if they ruled
out troublemakers like me,

the system will hold up
and perpetuate itself.

They think as long as blacks
and whites are kept apart,

with the whites gettin' scholarships

and the blacks gettin' jobs
pickin' cotton and tomatoes,

with the whites goin' to college and the
blacks eating moon pies and drinkin' Coca-Cola,

that they can weather in the
storm and survive any threat.

Well, they're wrong.

Their day is ending.

They're the captains of a doomed army
retreating in the snow.

They're old men,

and they can't accept a new sun
rising out of strange waters.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the world is very different now.

It's true this town still has
its die-hards and nigger haters,

but they grow older and
crankier with each passing day.

When Beaufort digs another four hundred
holes in her plentiful graveyards,

deposits there the rouged and elderly corpses
and covers them with the sandy low country soil,

then the Old South will be silenced

and not heard from again.

As for my kids,

I don't think I changed the quality
of their lives significantly,

or altered the fact that they have no
share in the country that claimed them,

the country that's failed them.

All I know is I felt much
beauty in my time with them.

I told Quickfellow no.

What'd he say?

Say he'll go off to
Fenella Jackson instead.

What about your daddy's plough?

He can use the old one.

What about your red dress?

I don't need it.

When the time is right

and you take up with a man,

it should be somebody who
appreciates the honor you confer.

I see everybody got
up before breakfast.

Come to say goodbye, Conrack.


My boat will be
ready any minute.


Who's the greatest baseball
player of all time?

Jackie Robinson.

- What's the largest desert in the world?
- Sahara.

- Closest planet to the sun.
- Mercury.

That's right, Anthony.
You got it there, kiddo.

What's the capital of our nation,
the good ol' United States?

Washington, D.C.

You remember a poem about
a man who robbed people?

"The Highwayman".

- And what happened to the Highwayman?
- Shot him down.

Right, shot him down like
a dog on the highway.

Another poem 'bout a man: "Listen,
my children, and you shall hear"?

Paul Revere.

What did ol' Paul do?

He rode around, saying "The British are comin'!
The British are comin'!"

So what if the British were comin'?
What were the people supposed to do?

- Gettin' ready for the British.
- Right. Gettin' ready for the British.

- But who was gettin' ready for the British?
- Minutemen.

- And why would they call 'em Minutemen?
- They was ready in a minute.

Okay. In what state is
Yamacraw Island located?

South Carolina.

Gang, what is the state
capital of South Carolina?


It hurts very
badly to leave you.

My prayer for you

is that the river is good
to you in the crossing.