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.
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Why but why nobody is listening to me when I say that Richard Brooks is one of the most important American filmmakers? Here's a movie that has become very relevant today if not for its religious themes at least for its description of mass manipulation. Mickey (I don't want to end up in a ditch) should absolutely see it. Masterpiece.
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.
A powerful tale of a con man who leaps into the tent revival game for money and a woman, the people he's used along the way, the people he takes in (and doesn't), and the woman who becomes fatally convinced of her own divinity. A few moments go over the top, but Lancaster's bombastic performance is mesmerizing and the rest of the cast lends it solid support at every turn. Elmer seems emerge ... http://bit.ly/1fiPvMp
A consistently critical perspective on the mass manipulation business would have hit too close both to Hollywood and America in general. So, for every scene with Macchiavellian money-spinners there is another one in which the same guys are true blue Christian idealists. They called it balance, I call it nonsense.