References to Charleston in Popular Culture and Film

Charleston, South Carolina is the oldest city in South Carolina and is one of the oldest cities in the American.  It is famous for its well preserved 18th century architecture and also is the home of the Military College of South Carolina, better known as The Citadel.  Because of these factors and its gentle climate Charleston is the home for many film and TV productions. Also Charleston has been the setting of many books, films and TV shows.

“The Carolinian” is a Novel by Rafael Sabatini, the author of “Captain Blood” and “The Seahawk”, published in 1924,  tells the story Charleston, then known as Charles Town during the American Revolution.

Porgy and Bess, first performed in 1935 is a Gullah Opera which is set in the fictional “Catfish Row” based on the real “Rainbow Row” as street in Charleston known for its colorfully painted homes. The Opera is based on DuBose Heyward’s novel “Porgy”. Gulluh also called Geechee, is a unique dialect of English from the low country of Georgia and South Carolina which preserves many African language structures and has loan words from African languages, French and the Caribbean islands

Several works by Citadel graduate Pat Conroy used the Citadel and the city as background. These include 1979’s “The Great Santini”, 1980’s “The Lords of Discipline” based on Conroy’s time as a student at the Citadel.  The memories’ “My Losing Season” (2002) tells Conroy’s story of the Citadel’s basketball team in 1966-67.   In 2009 Conroy returned to Charleston with “South of Broad”, tells the life story of Leopold Bloom King.

Alexandra Ripley in her “authorized’ sequel to “Gone with the Wind”, “Scarlett” (1991) used Charleston as a setting for much of the novel. In Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” Charleston is the hometown of Rhett Butler. Ripley’s subsequent works: “Charleston” and “On Leaving Charleson” also are largely set in the city.

Clive Barker’s 1998 novel “Galilee” is partly set in Charleston.


The 1979 movie “The Great Santini” based on the Pat Conroy novel of the same name tells the story of Lt. Col. Wilbur “Bull” Meechum, self referred to as  “The Great Santini,” and his difficult and semi abusive relationship with his family.  The character is based on Conroy’s own father.

The Lords of Discipline (1983) based on the novel of the same name by Pat Conroy tells the story of Will McLean and his life in the South Carolina Military Institute at thinly disguised version of the Citadel.  Ironically, the movie was shot in England at Wellington College.

Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” from 2000 was not shot in Charleston, but part is also set there.


Parts of the “North and South”, “Love and War” and Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III” trilogy of mini-series was partly shot in Charleston and also partly set there.

“Scarlett” the 1994 TV mini-series based on the Ripley book is set in Charleston.


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