Elmer Gantry is a fast talking, hard drinking traveling salesman who always has a risqué story and a hip flask to entertain cronies and customers alike. He is immediately taken with Sister Sharon Falconer, a lay preacher whose hellfire and damnation revivalism has attracted quite a following. Gantry uses his own quick wit and knowledge of the bible to become an indispensable part of Sister Sharon’s roadshow but soon finds that his past catches up with him in the form of Lulu Bains, now a prostitute. While Gantry seeks and eventually gets forgiveness from Sharon, tragedy strikes when she finally manages to get out of her revivalist tent and opens a permanent church. —IMDb
After attending Philadelphia’s Temple University, Richard Brooks (1912-1992) labored away as a sports reporter for the Atlantic City Press Union, the Philadelphia Record and the New York World-Telegram. Brooks joined New York radio station WNEW as a staff writer in the late 1930s, then moved on to the NBC network writing pool. After a season as director of New York’s Mill Pond Theatre, Brooks headed to Los Angeles, where he did some more radio writing and broke into films as a scripter of “B” pictures, Maria Montez epics and serials. Following two years’ wartime service with the Marines, Brooks published his first novel, an anti-intolerance effort titled The Brick Foxhole. Brooks was contractually unable to work on the screenplay adaptation of Brick Foxhole (released in 1947 as Crossfire), but found time to pen a brace of additional novels; he also co-wrote Brute Force (1947) and Key Largo (1948). In 1950, Brooks made his directorial debut with MGM’s Crisis, an offbeat political melodrama… read more
Burt Lancaster is brilliant as Gantry and the movie is great as well but I found it too inarticulate at times, some scenes either came too abruptly or they seem completely artificial compared with the tone of the story, but those are minor complaints. The dialogue is also worth mentioning.
Only few times I have been struck by an actor's performance so profoundly. Lancaster is pure energy - take Duvall in "The APostle", multiply it with 1000 and there you have Burt praying to the sinners of rural america like God's best salesman.Havent read the book yet so I can't compare, but I ordered it straiht after watching the film. But you have to be a sucker for evangelical fanatism to appreciate the film fully.