“Love is the morning and the evening star.” – Elmer Gantry
Number of Times Seen – 1 (20 May 2014)
Brief Synopsis – A traveling salesman joins an evangelical group and becomes one of their most beloved and also hated preachers.
My Take on it – This movie took over 30 years to be adapted from the controversial award winning novel by Sinclair Lewis.
The subject matter was (and even still is) a heated topic when dealing with how religion is presented.
Burt Lancaster won an Oscar for his role as the salesman turned Fire and Brimstone preacher. Although we deplore many of the things his character does, we still are drawn in by his charismatic speeches that bring in the masses.
He is a prime example of a public figure who does certain things in public to make him adored by the masses and other things in private that we deplore him for.
His past isn’t really expanded on, but based on his dealings with people that he meets from his past (including Shirley Jones as a prostitute) tell us enough to know that there are many things below the surface.
Jones won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. Most viewers are used to seeing her in wholesome parts, so this turn as a prostitute was quite shocking to me too.
Watching this, made me wonder about the popularity of the whole Evangelical movement. I wasn’t aware that is was so popular in the 1920’s and thought that it only grew to prominence with the TV preachers of the 80’s.
Lancaster beat out Jack Lemmon for the Oscar that year. I never understood why Lemmon didn’t win for The Apartment (1960) and now I know why. When comparing these two amazing performances, one can see how simple the choice must have been for Academy members, because this one clearly stand out.
The rest of the supporting cast also does a fine job.
This movie is totally carried by it’s acting because the story itself felt quite choppy and their were too many gaps in the narrative just left completely unexplained.
Here is another example of an amazing novel adapted into a very good movie that teeters on greatness
Bottom Line – Interesting movie based on a controversial award winning novel. Lancaster is amazing as the title character. Nice supporting cast. Recommended
Rating – Globe Worthy
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