Elmer Gantry
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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… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The briskly paced drama of a religious opportunist, his colleagues and his times utilizes the tools of the motion picture in expert fashion."
‑ A.H. Weiler, New York Times
"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"
‑ Dan Jardine, Slant 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."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"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."
‑ , Film4
"Brooks was the ultimate vulgarizer of serious literature."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"If not for the amazing performance of Burt Lancaster, the film would collapse under its own self-righteousness."
‑ Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight
"Lancaster pulls out all the stops in one of his most memorable roles as the lustful, ambitious charlatan of Sinclair Lewis's powerful novel."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Hypocrisy and religion exploited! Lancaster and Shirley Jones are terrific."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
"(No quote available.)"
‑ Daniel M. Kimmel, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
"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."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Greatly enhanced by the spirited Oscar performance by Burt Lancaster."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"This gets progressively nastier and winds up with an impressive hellfire finish."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"Still powerful expose of evangelism."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Lancaster and Simmons are scorching as the con artist and the evangelist who join forces in the 1920s Midwest."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
More reviews for Elmer Gantry on Rotten Tomatoes