Elmer Gantry (1960)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Elmer Gantry Videos & Photos

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 … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Richard Brooks I, Richard Brooks
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 23, 2014
MGM Home Entertainment

Watch it now


as Elmer Gantry

as Lulu Bains

as Sister Sharon Falcon...

as William L. Morgan

as Jim Lefferts

as Sister Rachel

as George Babbit

as Rev. Pengilly

as Rev. Brown

as Rev. Phillips

as Rev. Bill Garrison

as Rev. Planck

as Rev. Ulrich

as Preacher

as Capt. Holt

as Prostitute

as Prostitute

as Eddington, Publishe...

as Bartender

as Sam, Storekeeper

as Clean-Up Man

as Revivalist

as Speaker

as Benny, Photographer

as Deaf Man

as Cheerleader

as Friend

as Friend
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Elmer Gantry

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Elmer Gantry

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (4)

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.

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Top Critic

Brooks was the ultimate vulgarizer of serious literature.

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 15, 2011
Cinema Sight

Greatly enhanced by the spirited Oscar performance by Burt Lancaster.

Full Review… | July 4, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


I find it very difficult to believe that Elmer Gantry made in to movie screens in 1960. It almost seems like a lynchpin or things to come in the decade. Religious satire mixed with the amazing performance of Burt Lancaster. Unbelievable. There's also a great performance from Jean Simmons, as well as fantastic direction from Richard Brooks. There's also some great photography and location work on display to boot. Oh, and a fantastic script from beginning to end. A brilliant little film.

Tim Salmons

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.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Elmer Gantry Quotes

– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Elmer Gantry on our Movie forum!