The best of the films made from Pat Conroy novels, Conrack is missing much of the overwrought melodrama that characterized adaptations such as The Prince of Tides or The Lords of Discipline. Jon Voight's convincing performance prevents the amiable Conrack (based on the author's memoir The Water is Wide) from succumbing to the sentimentality of the other films. Voight's work as the young Conroy was a departure from the more offbeat, challenging roles the actor had chosen up to that time, including his Oscar-nominated work in 1969's Midnight Cowboy. Director Martin Ritt gives the film a gentle, easygoing feel that helps capture the mood of rural South Carolina; the film's rhythms may seem dated to modern audiences. Conrack fits into the rather overstuffed Hollywood tradition of "inspirational teacher" movies, including Blackboard Jungle and Stand and Deliver.