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Elmer Gantry (1960)


No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 3,176

My Rating

Movie Info

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


Drama, Classics

Richard Brooks I

Sep 23, 2014

MGM Home Entertainment



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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

Brooks honors the spirit of Lewis' cynical commentary on circus-type primitive exhortation with pictorial imagery that is always pungent. He also has written dialog that is frank and biting.

April 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brooks was the ultimate vulgarizer of serious literature.

April 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With a host of fine performances, and a strong sense of period and place conveyed by John Alton's lush camerawork, there's still plenty to enjoy.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The briskly paced drama of a religious opportunist, his colleagues and his times utilizes the tools of the motion picture in expert fashion.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If not for the amazing performance of Burt Lancaster, the film would collapse under its own self-righteousness.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Greatly enhanced by the spirited Oscar performance by Burt Lancaster.

July 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The film 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

August 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Lancaster pulls out all the stops in one of his most memorable roles as the lustful, ambitious charlatan of Sinclair Lewis's powerful novel.

April 8, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This gets progressively nastier and winds up with an impressive hellfire finish.

April 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Burt Lancaster gives one of his most memorable and zestiest performances as the lustful, charismatic evangelist charlatan in Richard Brooks' loose adaptation of Sinclair Lewis 1927 powerful novel.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Hypocrisy and religion exploited! Lancaster and Shirley Jones are terrific.

October 15, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Still powerful expose of evangelism.

July 19, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Lancaster puts in a thrilling, Oscar-winning performance in this cynical satire on religious evangelism which was considered extremely controversial at the time of its release.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Film4

(No quote available.)

January 30, 2004

Lancaster and Simmons are scorching as the con artist and the evangelist who join forces in the 1920s Midwest.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The most interesting part of this movie is its use of broad strokes to mask subtle sketches and careful characterizations.

July 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Highly recommended for fans of Lancaster or Jean Simmons, who plays the earnest young preacher who gets caught up in Gantry's web.

March 22, 2001 Full Review Source:

With a strong message, excellent satire, and even some heart, Elmer Gantry is an excellent film, and even a tad underrated.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

An entertaining melodrama with memorable performances.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Audience Reviews for Elmer Gantry

A snake-oil preacher woos a revivalist, and together they build a following, but will his dishonesty hurt their partnership more than his charisma helps their cause?
Burt Lancaster's finest performance showcases his over-the-top antics and his remarkably seductive charm and his ability to convey a soulful depth of character. He rises to the challenge of the perfect part for his talents. Jean Simmons, always demure, also gives a strong, subtle performance as Sister Sharon Falconer, a well-meaning but manipulated revivalist.
The film's satire pillories ignorance and theft more than it levels its glass at religious fervor. It doesn't suggest that religion is bullshit because we see a proper refutation in the person of well-meaning religious people, but it does say that people are no more easily manipulated than when they are are pushed by either faith or their genitals. Seems like apt criticism to me.
Overall, your patience with this film will depend on your reaction to Lancaster's antics and the film's thesis.
May 21, 2014
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Richard Brooks mesmeriising adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's book (--- what's killing Christianity is not unbelievers on the outside but rather the phony piety of those professing belief---) is chock full of noteworthy performances and riveting scenes as a silky smooth talking con man joins a Christian tent revivalist across America's Bible Belt. The film actually begins with a printed warning to keep youngsters away ... nuff said.
September 7, 2011

Super Reviewer

This movie has a good story and actors, I didn't get to see the end, though, so I should watch this movie again.
November 22, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Elmer Gantry: Well, as long as I got a foot, I'll kick booze. And as long as I got a fist, I'll punch it. And as long as I got a tooth, I'll bite it.
    2. Elmer Gantry: And when I'm old and gray and toothless and bootless, I'll gum it till I go to heaven and booze goes to hell.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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