->''"I have here in my pocket - and thank heaven you can't see them - lewd, dirty, obscene, and I'm ashamed to say this: French postcards. They were sold to me in front of your own innocent high school by a man with a black beard... a foreigner."''
A novel written by Creator/SinclairLewis and published in 1927, ''Elmer Gantry'' was brought to the screen by Director and Writer Richard Brooks in 1960. The title role was played by Creator/BurtLancaster, who won an Oscar along with co-star Shirley Jones and Brooks' screenplay.
Elmer Gantry was once a college athlete who decided to go into the legal profession. He ditches the legal profession and becomes a traveling salesman. During his travels, he "decides" his true calling is in the ministry and becomes a preacher. However, his actions do much more harm than good.
!!The novel and and its adaptations feature examples of:
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: In the film, Sharon is rattled when Lefferts asks her "What gives you the right to speak for God?".
** In the film, Elmer gets George Babbitt to back Sister Sharon's campaign by threatening to expose all his illegal businesses. Then Lulu the hooker gets into a scheme to blackmail Elmer, but changes her mind.
** In the book, a woman deliberately seduces Elmer and then blackmails him with the threat to expose their affair.
* BrokenAce: Sharon Falconer, in the novel. Elmer discovers that much of her personal story is a meticulously constructed fiction.
* TheCameo: George Babbitt, the protagonist of Sinclair Lewis's novel ''Babbitt'', is mentioned in passing in the novel. In the movie he is a somewhat larger character, being the main businessman in Zenith who supports Sister Sharon's ministry.
* TheCasanova: In book and film, Elmer really has an eye for the ladies.
** ReadTheFinePrint at the bottom of the movie poster page pic, and you'll see that it says "'''FOR ADULTS ONLY.''' No Children Under 16 Admitted Unless Accompanied By An Adult".
** The actual film opens with a nervous disclaimer saying that it is not making a statement about religion as a whole.
* CuteAndPsycho: Sharon, in the novel. While her public persona is that of a charming preacher, she's deeply disturbed beneath the surface. In one scene from the novel, Elmer struggles to get Sharon ready to preach while she's in the throes of psychosis, talking like a small child and throwing a tantrum.
** Her film counterpart isn't much better.
* DryCrusader: Gantry pretends to be this publicly.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: In the novel, Elmer speaks very warmly of his mother. He admits to Sharon that she and his mother are the only women he's ever respected.
* GoodCopBadCop: In the film, an observer compares Sister Sharon and Elmer to this, with Sharon's talk of the love of Jesus and Elmer's warning of hellfire and damnation.
* HighHeelFaceTurn: In the film, Lulu the hooker participates in a plot to lure Elmer to her room and get compromising photos, but it turns out she still has feelings for him. She goes to the press and admits to the blackmail scheme.
* KarmaHoudini: Elmer, in the novel.
** In the movie, Elmer cites Creator/SinclairLewis as one of the atheistic influences on reporter Jim Lefferts.
** In the book, two characters agree that the Sinclair Lewis novel ''Main Street'' is very boring.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Sharon Falconer is loosely based on Aimee Semple [=McPherson=], while Elmer was patterned on Billy Sunday.
** The movie adapts less than 100 pages of the novel and makes several changes to the story. Lefferts, Elmer's cynical college roommate in the novel, is changed to a cynical reporter. In the book, Elmer is actually an ordained Baptist minister, while in the movie he's a traveling salesman on the edge of vagrancy who seizes on the opportunity to join Sister Sharon's entourage.
** The scene in the film where Elmer badgers Lefferts the reporter into admitting that he doesn't accept the divinity of Christ is taken from a scene in the novel where Elmer does the same with a rival minister. This explains to some degree the rather odd tone in the scene in the movie, where Lefferts' denial of Christ is inexplicably treated as a shocking moment. In the book, it is a shocking moment, as the person denying Christ is a minister.
* SinisterMinister: Although one who is slick and self-deluded.
* TheSociopath: In the novel, Elmer is [[LackOfEmpathy devoid of empathy]] and cares only about his immediate self-interest and appetites. His destructive actions create heartache for many of the people he comes into contact with.
* TorchesAndPitchforks: In the film, Elmer leads a torch-wielding mob to wreck the speakeasies and brothels of Zenith.