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Elmer Gantry Photos

Movie Info

When hedonistic but charming con man Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) meets the beautiful Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons), a roadside revivalist, he feigns piousness to join her act as a passionate preacher. The two make a successful onstage pair, and their chemistry extends to romance. Both the show and their relationship are threatened, however, when one of Gantry's ex-lovers (Shirley Jones) decides that she has a score to settle with the charismatic performer.

Cast & Crew

Burt Lancaster
Elmer Gantry
Jean Simmons
Sister Sharon Falconer
Dean Jagger
William L. Morgan
Arthur Kennedy
Jim Lefferts
Patti Page
Sister Rachel
Edward Andrews
George F. Babbitt (as Ed Andrews)
John McIntire
Rev. John Pengilly
Joe Maross
Pete (Lulu'sman)
Everett Glass
Rev. Brown (uncredited)
André Previn
Original Music
John Alton
Cinematographer
Edward Carrere
Art Direction
William F. Calvert
Set Decoration
Frank Tuttle
Set Decoration
Dorothy Jeakins
Costume Designer
Show all Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Elmer Gantry

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (2)

  • 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 | Rating: 80/100 | Full Review…
  • 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…
  • This gets progressively nastier and winds up with an impressive hellfire finish.

    April 8, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Brooks was the ultimate vulgarizer of serious literature.

    April 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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…
  • 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Elmer Gantry

  • Jan 05, 2017
    A great film with fine work from Lancaster and Simmons. The awards were deserved.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • May 21, 2014
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2013
    Elmer Gantry opens with a short shot of chapter 1 of the novel, I'm not sure if this implies a loyal reproduction, but since one of the criticisms I heard of this film is that it vulgarizes the novel, than it's probably not. And this film vulgar, especially for the time. There was a lengthy warning at the beginning that the content may offend. The film, while perverted, is usually colorful and light filled. An early is where Elmer goes into a black church, even as the farthest thing from a spiritual man, or a singer, I wanted to stand up and sing with them. That was a well done scene. Everywhere the salesman Elmer Gantry goes people think he's a preacher, and really he always was. It's clear to see how much this film inspired. During Gantry's ramblings, I always saw the resemblance to Network. Elmer also reminds me of John Candy's character in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The preaching is Wise Blood is highly similar, and the cult like setting in The Master. The script is filled with wit and the dialogue keeps moving. The church at the end is highly remarkable and realistic. A 150 minute delight.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 13, 2013
    Lancaster's Gantry is top notch and keeps the overall picture together. No doubt this was used for the prototype of flawed preachers ranging from The Apostle to Father Damian in The Exorcist.
    John B Super Reviewer

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