Elmer Gantry

Overview

Elmer Gantry Burt Lancaster, a drunken, dishonest street preacher allegedly patterned on Billy Sunday, wrangles a job with the travelling tent ministry conducted by Sister Sharon Falconer Jean Simmons. Thanks to Gantry's enthusiastic hellfire-and-brimstone sermons, Sister Sharon's operation rises to fame and fortune, enough so that Sharon realizes her dream of building her own enormous tabernacle. These ambitions are put in jeopardy when a prostitute Oscar-winning Shirley Jones, a former minister's daughter who'd...
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Overview

Elmer Gantry Burt Lancaster, a drunken, dishonest street preacher allegedly patterned on Billy Sunday, wrangles a job with the travelling tent ministry conducted by Sister Sharon Falconer Jean Simmons. Thanks to Gantry's enthusiastic hellfire-and-brimstone sermons, Sister Sharon's operation rises to fame and fortune, enough so that Sharon realizes her dream of building her own enormous tabernacle. These ambitions are put in jeopardy when a prostitute Oscar-winning Shirley Jones, a former minister's daughter who'd been deflowered by Gantry years earlier, lures Gantry into a compromising situation and has photographs taken. It took several years for any Hollywood studio to take a chance with Sinclair Lewis' novel, and when it finally did arrive on the screen, producer/director Richard Brooks was compelled to downplay some of the more "sacrilegious" passages in the original. Also appearing in Elmer Gantry are Arthur Kennedy as an H.L. Mencken-style atheistic journalist, and Edward Andrews as George Babbitt, a character borrowed from another Sinclair Lewis novel.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
This once scandalous adaptation of the trenchant Sinclair Lewis novel may now seem a little dated, but it still has much to recommend it. It pulls few punches in its story of the hypocrisy, materialism, and opportunism at the heart of the evangelical world of Bible-thumping barnstorming revival troupes, an industry that professes to be about spiritual salvation. In the title role, Burt Lancaster moves like a powerful steam engine through the rustic countryside: there's no stopping this man. Gantry is charismatic and enigmatically complex, even if Lancaster is occasionally too much a bull in a china shop to convey his character's subtler motivations. Still, there's no denying his magnetism, which helped Lancaster earn his first and only Academy Award. Jean Simmons offers a more quietly sophisticated portrayal as Sister Sharon Falconer, but it is Shirley Jones, in the flashier role of Gantry's ex-flame and prostitute Lulu, who garnered the Best Supporting Actress nod from the Academy. Some questionable character development in the film's latter stages is overcome by writer/director Richard Brooks's barbed and darkly satirical Oscar-winning script, which also keeps the film from getting bogged down in obvious moralizing, as we are encouraged to love, loathe, and forgive the characters. Brooks' sharp editing and quick pacing are also an important asset in this dialogue-driven 2 1/2-hour film.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/23/2014
  • UPC: 738329139629
  • Original Release: 1960
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kl Studio Classics
  • Presentation: Subtitled
  • Time: 2:26:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 5,797

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Burt Lancaster Elmer Gantry
Jean Simmons Sister Sharon Falconer
Dean Jagger William L. Morgan
Arthur Kennedy Jim Lefferts
Shirley Jones Lulu Bains
Edward Andrews George Babbitt
Patti Page Sister Rachel
John McIntire Rev. Pengilly
Joe Maross Pete
Everett Glass Rev. Brown
Michael Whalen Rev. Phillips
Hugh Marlowe Rev. Garrison
Philip Ober Rev. Planck
Wendell Holmes Rev. Ulrick
Rex Ingram Preacher
Sally Fraser Prostitute
Barry Kelley Capt. Holt
Dayton Lummis
Milton Parsons Revivalist
John Qualen Storekeeper Sam
Max Showalter Deaf Man
Jean Willes Prostitute
Technical Credits
Richard Brooks Director, Screenwriter
John Alton Cinematographer
William F. Calvert Set Decoration/Design
Edward Carrere Art Director
Marjorie Fowler Editor
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Gilbert Kurland Production Manager
Harry Maret Makeup
Harry D. Mills Sound/Sound Designer
André Previn Score Composer
Robert J. Schiffer Makeup
Bernard Smith Producer
Frank A. Tuttle Set Decoration/Design
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