Elmer Gantry

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A 'controversial' look at revivalist religion which, with the passing of the years, is unlikely to raise many eyebrows. That said, it's still an entertaining, intelligent movie, thanks largely to the magnetic presence of Lancaster. As the charming charlatan with the powerfully persuasive tongue who joins up with Sister Simmons' touring grass-roots evangelist circus during the depressed '20s, he has only to flash that silvery smile for us to believe that it's not the good will of the Good Lord he's after, but a rather more carnal acquaintance with the Bible-spouting glamour girl who employs him. Brooks' script and direction never really delve beneath the surface, leaving the relationship between faith, corruption, sex and money largely unexplored (one would have loved to see this filmed by Sirk or Minnelli); but 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.

Release details

Duration: 145 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Brooks
Screenwriter: Richard Brooks
Cast: Burt Lancaster
Jean Simmons
Arthur Kennedy
Shirley Jones
Dean Jagger
Edward Andrews
Hugh Marlowe
Rex Ingram
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