Dienstag, 3. April 2012

Let's watch...ELMER GANTRY (1960)

 Burt Lancaster is all fire and brimstone as a traveling salesman who crosses path with a lady preacher named Sharon Falconer (played by Jean Simmons in an Award worthy performance) and becomes part of her traveling roadshow. Burt gives a showy and deserving Oscar winning performance as Gantry, who manages to smooth talk just about everyone he meets. But his past catches up with him later on in the form of Lulu Bains, a prostitute (played by Shirley Jones, who won an Oscar for her work here) who brings down her fury on Gantry in the final act. It's hard to mix religion and film and come away with everything working so well. The three leads: Lancaster, Simmons, and Jones are all top notch. There is also strong support from Arthur Kennedy as a local newspaper man who doesn't fall for Gantry's theatrics. I liked Elmer Gantry. It doesn't beat you over the head with the ideas of religion but does make you think about all the things that go along with it. All the music, preaching, etc combine to make a very solid film.
Jean Simmons in Elmer Gantry
Burt Lancaster & Jean Simmons in in Elmer Gantry
Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry
Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry
Shirley Jones & Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry
 I do believe Simmons was overlooked by the Academy by not even being nominated for her amazing performance as Sister Sharon. Her scenes preaching to the masses will hook you in immediately with her soft and delicate features but strong and commanding voice. Jones part was small but very effective. She doesn't enter the film until about 90 minutes in, but makes quite the impression as Lulu. She is very smart and very capable of taking down anyone who wrongs her such as Gantry did in their past. And finally Lancaster is top notch with this show stopping role that lets him cut loose with some big attention grabbing scenes and also with some quieter effective moments as well. If you have never seen Elmer Gantry, you need to check it out.

 Count our lucky stars


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