Elmer Gantry (1960)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  July 1960 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 7,671 users  
Reviews: 80 user | 41 critic

A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause.



(screenplay), (from the novel by)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Jim Lefferts
William L. Morgan
Sister Rachel
George F. Babbitt (as Ed Andrews)
Rev. John Pengilly
Rev. Philip Garrison
Joe Maross ...
Rev. Planck
Barry Kelley ...
Police Capt. Holt
Wendell Holmes ...
Rev. Ulrich
Dayton Lummis ...


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. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Tell 'em, Gantry... save 'em from sin... lead 'em to salvation... tell 'em about everything - but not about your whiskey and your women! See more »




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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

July 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elmer Gantry, le charlatan  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character "Jim Lefferts" is clearly based on H.L. Mencken. Elmer Gantry mentions Mencken at about the 88th minute of the film. See more »


At the newspaper office meeting, Elmer Gantry refers to Christ' miracle of feeding the 5,000 with five fishes and two loaves of bread. According to the Gospels, it was five loaves and two fishes. See more »


Elmer Gantry: [repeated] Love is the morning and the evening star.
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Crazy Credits

Scrolled before the opening credits: "We believe that certain aspects of Revivalism can bear examination- that the conduct of some revivalists makes a mockery of the traditional beliefs and practices of organized Christianity! We believe that everyone has a right to worship according to his conscience, but- Freedom of Religion is not license to abuse the faith of the people! However, due to the highly controversial nature of this film, we strongly urge you to prevent impressionable children from seeing it!" See more »


Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »


Shall We Gather at the River
(1864) (uncredited)
Written by Robert Lowry
Sung by the audience at a revival meeting
Reprised at a train station
See more »

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User Reviews

Sin, sin, sin! You're all sinners! You're all doomed to perdition!
24 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Based on the muckraker Sinclair Lewis' novel, and superbly translated to the screen by Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood , The Professionals, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), this story of huckster-ism by religion is a masterpiece.

Burt Lancaster player the greatest role of his career, getting his only Oscar for his performance. Lancaster, so good in such films as From Here to Eternity, Atlantic City, and Seven Days in May, was spellbinding as the salesman for God.

Shirley Jones (The Music Man, "The Patridge Family," was simply delicious as Gantry's first conquest, and now a "five-buck hooker," that he left behind: "Oh, he gave me special instructions back of the pulpit Christmas Eve. He got to howlin' "Repent! Repent!" and I got to moanin' "Save me! Save me!" and the first thing I know he rammed the fear of God into me so fast I never heard my old man's footsteps!" 1960 was a great year for movies, and this was certainly one of the best of that year, and one of the best of all time. If you want to see real acting, this film should be on your "must-see" list.

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