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Elmer Gantry theatrical poster Directed by Richard Brooks Produced by Bernard Smith Written by Sinclair Lewis (novel) Richard Brooks Starring Burt Lancaster Jean Simmons Arthur Kennedy Shirley Jones Music by André Previn Cinematography John Alton Editing by Marjorie Fowler Distributed by United Artists Release date(s) July 7, 1960 Running time 146 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $3,000,000 (estimated) Elmer Gantry is a 1960 drama film about a con man and a female evangelist selling religion to small town America. Adapted by director Richard Brooks, the film is based on the 1927 novel by Sinclair Lewis and stars Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons. The movie presents fewer than 100 pages of the novel, deleting many characters and fundamentally changing the character and actions of female evangelist Sharon Falconer, played by Simmons. The story's use of a female evangelist bears a resemblance to true-life Sister Aimee Semple McPherson. The film won numerous awards. Contents 1 Plot 2 Comparison with the book 3 Soundtrack 4 Cast 5 Awards and nominations 6 References 6.1 Notes 6.2 Bibliography 7 External links // Plot Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) is a hard-drinking, fast-talking traveling salesman with a charismatic personality. While traveling, he's drawn to the road show of Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons) and is immediately attracted to the saintly revivalist. He soon cons his way into her good graces and joins the troupe as a fiery preacher. Gantry and Falconer develop what her manager calls a "good cop/bad cop" routine, with Elmer telling the audience members that they will burn in Hell for their sins and Sharon promising them salvation if they repent. With Elmer's support, the group makes its way out of exclusively provincial venues and into Zenith, Winnemac. Falconer eventually admits to Gantry that her real name is Katie Jones and that her origins are humbler than she publicly admits. Falconer becomes Gantry's lover and loses her virginity to him. Gantry's on-stage antics draw the attention of big city reporter and nonbeliever Jim Lefferts (Arthur Kennedy). Lefferts is shown to be torn between his disgust for religious hucksterism and his genuine admiration for Gantry's charm and cunning. The two men begin a public feud which increases the notoriety of both. The success of the Falconer-Gantry team is mired by Lulu Baines (Shirley Jones), Elmer's former girlfriend. Baines fell into disrepute and became a prostitute when her affair with Gantry ruined her standing in her minister father's eyes. Gantry, acting as a moralist, unwittingly invades the brothel where Lulu works, with police and media in tow and sends the prostitutes out of town. Lulu frames Gantry out of revenge for this and out of jealousy for his relationship with Falconer. Baines blackmails Gantry and asks Falconer to bring money in exchange for incriminating pictures. Falconer brings the money, but Baines refuses to accept; it is unclear why. Though Baines first offers Lefferts the story of Gantry's sexual indiscretion, he refuses, shrugging the pictures off as merely proof that Gantry is as human as anyone else. Later, when an angry mob threatens Gantry at the tent revival following the publication of the incriminating photos, Lefferts fights in Gantry's defense. Lulu joins the congregation at this tent revival to see Gantry's humiliation. However, as she watches the mob curse Gantry and cover him with eggs and other produce, she is emotionally shaken and flees the scene. She returns to the brothel, which is now in a dilapidated state from Gantry's publicity stunt. The photographer who helped frame Gantry is there to collect his money. When Baines cannot pay him, he beats her. Gantry comes to Baines's rescue in the midst of this beating. He disposes of the photographer and apologizes to Baines. She soon publicly confesses to having framed Gantry. Elmer returns to Sharon the night her tabernacle opens and tells her that he wants them to live like a more normal couple. Sharon is unable to give up her soul-saving ventures, though, and insists that she and Elmer were brought together by God to do His work. Sharon tragically dies in a fire at her tabernacle, unable or unwilling to see past her own religious zeal when the place is engulfed in a fire. Deeply saddened by Sharon's death and having reached something of a moral awakening, Elmer decides to stop evangelizing, quoting from the Bible: "When I was a child, I understood as a child and spake as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11) Comparison with the book The Elmer Gantry in the film, though a rascal, does have a heart and, finally, a conscience. In contrast, the Elmer Gantry of the original book is an unallayed villain. Soundtrack Elmer Gantry Soundtrack by André Previn Released August 25, 1998 Label Rykodisc A remastered and enhanced soundtrack was released on CD on August 25, 1998. All compositions by André Previn. "Main Title" (1:45) "Long Distance" (1:38) "Mr. Babbitt" (3:15) "Lulu's Room" (2:49) "Do You Believe" (1:55) "Not As My Lover" (1:10) "Under The Pier" (3:14) "Shall We Gather At The River" (1:43) "Kiss Me Goodbye" (4:06) "Stand Up For Jesus" (1:16) "Elmer And Lulu" (1:25) "End Title" (1:35) "Orchestral Suite" (2:56) "Onward Christian Soldiers (Instrumental)"(1:25) "Shall We Gather At The River" (1:43) "Stand Up For Jesus" (1:15) "I'm On My Way" (Burt Lancaster – Vocal) (2:47) Cast Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry Jean Simmons as Sharon Falconer Arthur Kennedy as Jim Lefferts Dean Jagger as William L. Morgan Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains Patti Page as Sister Rachel Edward Andrews as George F. Babbitt John McIntire as Rev. John Pengilly Hugh Marlowe as Rev. Philip Garrison Joe Maross as Pete Dayton Lummis as Eddington, newspaper publisher Harry Antrim as salesman in a speakeasy Barbara Luna as a prostitute (un-credited) Awards and nominations The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Burt Lancaster), Best Supporting Actress (Shirley Jones) and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Richard Brooks). It was also nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Picture. References Notes Bibliography Wheeler Dixon. "Cinematic Adaptations of the Works of Sinclair Lewis." Sinclair Lewis at 100: Papers Presented at a Centennial Conference. Ed. Michael Connaughton. St. Cloud: St. Cloud State University, 1985. 191–200. External links Elmer Gantry at the Internet Movie Database Elmer Gantry at the TCM Movie Database Elmer Gantry at Allmovie v • d • e Films directed by Richard Brooks 1950s Crisis (1950) · The Light Touch (1952) · Deadline - U.S.A. (1952) · Battle Circus (1953) · Take the High Ground! (1953) · Flame and the Flesh (1954) · The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) · Blackboard Jungle (1955) · The Last Hunt (1956) · The Catered Affair (1956) · Something of Value (1957) · The Brothers Karamazov (1958) · Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) 1960s Elmer Gantry (1960) · Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) · Lord Jim (1965) · The Professionals (1966) · In Cold Blood (1967) · The Happy Ending (1969) 1970s $ (1971) · Bite the Bullet (1975) · Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) 1980s Wrong Is Right (1982) · Fever Pitch (1985)