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Elmer Gantry

4.5 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Shirley Jones. Lancaster and Jones won Oscars for their performances in this Sinclair Lewis tale of an ex-football player who becomes a popular evangelist in the 1920s Midwest. 1960/color/146 min/NR/widescreen.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, Shirley Jones
  • Directors: Richard Brooks
  • Writers: Richard Brooks, Sinclair Lewis
  • Producers: Bernard Smith
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2001
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056HEE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,993 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Elmer Gantry" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William Hare on March 5, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This was Burt Lancaster's Oscar winner, a film in which the great performer achieved a Best Actor statuette for, according to those who knew him from his East Harlem days, largely playing himself. The fast talking Elmer Gantry, the colorful lead of the film of the same name, uses his gift of gab to get him by in what the Bible pounding revivalist recognizes is a tough world. When the film was released Lancaster reportedly heard from friends during his New York youth that he had not seen in years, who recalled the youthful Lancaster's gift of gab, which had become a neighborhood staple.
Lancaster, along with the film's producer-director-writer Richard Brooks, recognized the cinematic potential of the Prohibition era novel by America's first Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Minnesotan Sinclair Lewis. Gantry alternates as a poker playing, whisky drinking, brawling brothel habitue and a stern-faced preacher extolling the masses in packed tent services to toe the mark for the Lord or face the fires of hell.
Lancaster and Brooks spent six months in the director's office hashing out the story, two emotional creative forces hellbent on achieving the major success which resulted. The effort earned a Best Screenplay Oscar for Brooks. The story that was put on the screen in the 1960 classic involved non-stop action and biting irony, along with a needed touch of humor to lighten the story's heavy impact.
Lancaster's transitory existence is revealed in the first scene of the film, when he barely escapes with his life after being attacked by a group of hobos in the box car of a train on which he is riding.
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Format: DVD
Elmer Gantry, (Burt Lancaster), is a travelling evangelist with one eye on the Lord and one eye on the ladies! Elmer put's his amazing gift of the gab to use by preaching in tent meetings. Along the way he meets Sister Falconer, (Jean Simmons), who takes him under her wing, there working relationship soon turns personal.
Elmer Gantry is one of the greatest, (in my opinion), movies ever made. Burt Lancaster won his only oscar for his dynamic manic performance as the charlatan with a heart of gold. His preaching style is bombastic, his personal life morally bankrupt. It's really eerie how he resembles a number of "Evangelists", that I have come across in person or on the television. Elmer Gantry truly represents a lot of the tele-evangelists that have come and gone over the last 50 years or so as does Sister Falconer.
Watching Burt Lancaster in full flight as he belts out his sermons and slides across the platform is a true joy to behold. It's a really great actor in his prime, and wonderfully entertaining.
All in all it's a great romp with fantastic dialogue, wonderful performances and it's controversial theme packs a punch even today when Tele-evangelist, whilst know less popular, are still racking in the big bucks and filling stadiums with willing followers. To the Christian, let this film be a lesson for all of us, there are wolves in sheeps clothing around.
Thanks for reading and enjoy and maybe be educated by this wonderful film.
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Format: DVD
If Elmer Gantry were merely a satire and an exposé of revivalism it would not be as powerful and subtle as it is. Gantry, as played by a brilliant Burt Lancaster, may be a hypocrite in that he does not practice what he preaches, but there is no doubt in my mind that he genuinely believes. This makes him a complex character for we are not altogether sure what his motives are. When he joins Sister Sharon's evangelical crusade it is unclear whether he does it because he is attracted to her, because he hopes to make money, or whether along with these motives he really wishes to spread the word.
The characters in this film have all the failings of human beings. Jean Simmons, acting the part of Sister Sharon, makes her seem almost like a saint. In the end she comes to resemble Joan of Arc. However, her image of purity is mixed with other factors. She has ambition and she has desire. This mixture makes her a rounded and interesting character. It would have been easy to make a film where Gantry and Sharon were mere charlatans, but then we would not care about them. Instead the film presents a complex but ultimately sympathetic view of faith. Even Arthur Kennedy's sceptical newspaperman admits that he wishes he could believe. Gantry may have many faults but he is a good man. He is kind to the prostitute, played by Shirley Jones, even after she has tried to destroy him. Thus, despite his lapses, he shows the strength and the quality of his faith.
The print used for this DVD is presented in its original ratio, it is clear and has very little apparent damage. The DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer.
1 Comment 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
A superb film. Simply profound. The sermons are as stirring today as when the screenplay was written.
Words can't express how great Burt Lancaster is in this film.
But like most truly significant movie classics, the supporting cast adds substance and strength to the overall impact of "Elmer Gantry." Shirley Jones is as sexy as any female that has appeared on the screen. Jean Simmons is spellbinding as Sister Sharon.
The film's highlight for me was the meeting involving Sister Sharon, Gantry, and William Morgan with a group of ministers negotiating the terms of a planned extended tent ministry in the fictious city of Zenith. Distrubing and embarassing -- always thought provoking.
A memorable film, worthy of repeated viewings and serious contemplation.
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