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The Flannery O'Connor Repository

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Flannery is a superb documentary on the formative experiences of O'Connor's life. This is a top notch production that goes well beyond photos, letter readings, and quotes from O'Connor's fiction, to paint a portrait of O'Connor as a real human being, not just a southern writer, or a Catholic, or a sufferer of Lupus. Flannery contains a lot of material I haven't seen such as photos not available to the general public and the family's home movies, but the highlights of the film are the interviews with people closest to O'Connor including her friends Sally Fitzgerald, Erik Langkjaer, and William Sessions; cousins Frances and Louise Florencourt; and her publisher Robert Giroux. The documentary builds a picture of young O'Connor--unconventional, creative, and deeply religious, with definite plans to support her writing with work as a cartoonist--then reveals the converging events that deflected her career directly into writing fiction. Along the way we get a glimpse of the challenges she faced as a Catholic in a state where Catholics were actively persecuted, as a woman at a time when independent women were viewed with suspicion, and as a disabled person living on a fairly isolated farm in the rural south. The film makes firm connections between O'Connor's life and her fiction, illustrating where her experiences clearly influence her work, but Flannery wisely draws a distinct line between the two.

Film Adaptations

While John Huston's Wise Blood is the most widely known film made from O'Connor's fiction, there have been numerous others, some are easily accessible, while some will take a lot of effort to locate.

A Circle in The Fire
Three teenagers shatter the security of the Cope farm when they cruelly destroy what they cannot possess. 
Chicago : Perspective Films, 1976. 50 min. 
Produced and Directed by Victor Nunez. Starring Betty Miller, Ingred Schweska, Katherine Miller, Mark Hey, Casey Donovan, and Tom Horkan.

Comforts of Home
The precarious relationship between a mother and son spins out of control when a young girl arrives at their home.
St. Louis: Phoenix Films. 40 min.
Director, Jerome Shore. Starring Graham Jarvis, Kate Harrington, and Stockard Channing.
Available on DVD and VHS for $59.99 from Phoenix Learning Group.

The Displaced Person
When a Polish refugee arrives in Georgia with his family in the 1940s, their integration into southern culture does not go smoothly.
Chicago: Perspective Films, 1977. 58 min. Part of the series The American Short Story.
Produced by Robert Geller, directed by Glenn Jordan, starring John Houseman and Samuel L. Jackson.
Available on DVD from

Good Country People
When a traveling Bible salesman stops by a rural farm and woos a jaded scholar, he steals more than her kisses. A favorable review of the film can be found in Jane Archer's article "This is My Place". Made through an Independent Filmmaker's Grant from the American Film Institute the film was originally shot on 16mm film and is now available on DVD direct from the producer's studio. According to the producer, Shirley Slater, the actress who portrays Hulga in the movie, was a friend of O'Connor's.
Burbank: Valley Video, Inc., 1975. 32 min.
Produced by Andy House and Jeffrey Jackson. Director, writer, editor, Jeffrey F. Jackson. Camera, Jack Epps, Jr. Starring Johnnie Collins III, Shirley Slater, June Whitley Taylor and Sue Marrow.
Jeffrey Jackson
sells DVDs for $30 + $3 S&H, and accepts either checks or credit cards. You can contact Mr. Jackson either through his studio website or at the Taos Land and Film Co., 7062 NDCBU (US Mail) 1134 Juniper Rd. Taos, NM 87571.

The Life You Save
O'Connor said of this television adaptation in the Schlitz Playhouse of Stars series, "a story I sold [will star] a tap-dancer...the punishment always fits the crime."
Aired March 1, 1957. 30 min. 
Starring Gene Kelly, Agnes Moorehead and Janice Rule. 
Available for $24.99 + $3.05 shipping from Dee Sloan's Radio Video Archive.

The River 
A boy, neglected by his parents and left in the hands of a deeply religious Southern fundamentalist babysitter who takes him to a "healing" service on a riverbank. The boy is handed over to the preacher to be baptized in the churning waters, and as the preacher lifts him from the water, he tells him that from now on, "he counts, he is somebody." The next morning when he is home again, surrounded by the empty whiskey bottles and cigarette butts from his parents' party the night before, the boy remembers how it felt to be "somebody." He leaves the house, determined to get back to the river and relive the experience of the day before.
Beverly Hills: The Institute, 1976. 29 min.
Producer and director, Barbara Noble. Starring Robby Paris, Dran Hammilton, Shelby Leverington, James Eric, Martin Nicholson, and Tiger Jo Marsh.
Available on DVD and VHS $59.99 from Phoenix Learning Group.

Wise Blood
In this satirical adaptation of O'Connor's most famous novel, Hazel Motes vows to fill his life with sin, only to be mistaken for a preacher, which he takes as an opportunity to found his Church Without Jesus Christ. "Hustonís translation of Flannery O'Connor's Southern Gothic novel brings OíConnorís peculiar violence and grace to life on screen." Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide (1998)
Universal Studios, 1979. 106 min. 
If you're wondering what makes this film such a big deal, read Francine Prose's film essay, Wise Blood: a Matter of Life and Death. There's also a review of the Wise Blood DVD at Slant.
Directed by John Huston. Starring Brad Dourif, Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stanton, Dan Shor, and Amy Wright.
Recently re-released on a Criterion Collection DVD $29.99 from

Galley Proof
Mostly an interview with a short live-action dramatization of the opening of "The Life You Save May be Your Own". Hosted by Paul Breit, the book editor for the New York Times, O'Connor described it in her letters as "mildly ghastly".
New York : WRCA-TV, May 31, 1955. 30 min. 
Host: Harvey Breit. Guest: Flannery O'Connor. Produced by Ann Keeley, directed by James Elson. Starring Sandy Kenyon, Mary Perry and Mildred Cook. 
Transcript available in Conversations with Flannery O'Connor.


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