In the mids, Elmer Gantry is a hard-living, smooth-talking traveling salesman who often uses Christian references in his sales pitches to his largely Christian clients. In his travels he comes across the traveling revival show of evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer. He is immediately attracted to her and also sees her revival meetings as a way to make money. He becomes the symbiotic antithesis Down Home - Stretch - The Story Of Elmer Gantry (CD) Sister Sharon: while he tells of heading toward the depths of hell for his many sins, she tells of being saved from that fate if repentance is forthcoming.
Elmer's presence is against the wishes of Sister Sharon's manager, William Morgan, who sees through Elmer's smooth-talking veneer, although he can't argue with the bottom line that Elmer brings to the meetings.
Traveling with the show is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jim Lefferts, who looks at the show and Elmer with a critical eye, although Sister Sharon, William, and Elmer welcome him. William's business plan has been for the show to set up in small towns, so it's against his wishes that Sister Sharon, falling for Elmer, agrees to Elmer's plan to set up in the larger city of Zenith, where William feels the that the scrutiny of the cynical urban populace will hurt their brand.
But it's Elmer's past, which catches up with him in Zenith, that may be his, and by association Sister Sharon's, downfall. When hedonistic but charming con man Elmer Gantry meets the beautiful Sister Sharon Falconer, a roadside revivalist, he feigns piousness to join her act as a passionate preacher. The two make a successful onstage pair, and their chemistry extends to romance.
But both the show and their relationship are threatened when one of Gantry's ex-lovers decides that she must settle a score with the charismatic performer.
They make enough money to build a temple, and Sister Sharon falls for Elmer. He is tested by temptation and almost capitulates, but is then wrongly accused by the jilted temptress. But Sharon stands by Elmer and Down Home - Stretch - The Story Of Elmer Gantry (CD) prevails, until both are seduced by fame and blind faith over common sense, and fate deals them a crushing blow.
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First name:. Last name:. Email Address:. Re-enter Password:. Gender: Down Home - Stretch - The Story Of Elmer Gantry (CD) Female. Now Playing Newsletter. TCM Shop Updates. TCM Backlot. Create Account Learn More. Almost Done! Not a TCM. To resend the verification email, please enter your email address and click Submit. Check your inbox Richard Brooks may have backed away from a challenge at some point in his career, but you wouldn't know it from his filmography, which is full of pictures so culturally ambitious that an ordinary writer-director would have needed a year off just to read the books they're based on.
With its blistering screenplay, inspired casting, and expressive cinematography, the release still stands as one of Hollywood's most candid and intelligent looks at American religion.
Burt Lancaster won his only Academy Award for his irrepressible portrayal of the title character, a traveling salesman trying to eke out a living wage in the Depression-ravaged s.
He's something of a fast-talking con man, but he has a good heart and a leaning toward religion, as we learn in an early scene when he joins the worshippers in an African-American church and stays to help the pastor after everyone else goes home. Arriving in a new town one ordinary day, he finds an old-fashioned revival service going on in a big tent, presided over by Sister Sharon Falconer, an evangelist with an untainted soul, a silver tongue, and a very pretty face.
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