"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 1926 novel by Sinclair Lewis (written in 1926, first published in 1927), Elmer Gantry
was brought to the screen by Director and Writer Richard Brooks in 1960. The title role was played by Burt Lancaster
, 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:
- Broken Ace: Sharon Falconer, in the novel. Elmer discovers that much of her personal story is a meticulously constructed fiction.
- Content Warnings: Read The Fine Print 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".
- Corrupt Church
- Cute and Psycho: 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.
- Dry Crusader: Gantry pretends to be this publicly.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: 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.
- Karma Houdini: Elmer, in the novel.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sharon Falconer is loosely based on Aimee Semple McPherson, while Elmer was patterned on Billie Sunday.
- Sinister Minister: Although one who is slick and self-deluded.
- Snake Oil Salesman
- The Sociopath: In the novel, Elmer is 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.