Elmer Gantry

Director: Richard Brooks
Year Released: 1960
Rating: 2.5

Philistine Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) and a young woman (Jean Simmons) take their caravan of religion around the United States, luring people back to the Lord and fending off the enemy: the cynical. The 'message' is shaky, and I can only blame Brooks and his screenwriters - I doubt Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis wrote characters who alter their opinions as lightning fast as these do (they're religious, they're not, they're back again, they've left again). The film literally clobbers you with its ideas of religious freedom and ignorance, and after a while it becomes tiresome. Lancaster's performance is enigmatic (he hides even from the audience) and therefore never dull, but hardly his best (The Sweet Smell of Success would get my vote).