Voila! Finally, the Elmer Gantry
script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the Burt Lancaster movie. This script is a transcript that was painstakingly
transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of Elmer Gantry. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally
tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to
drop me a line. You won't
hurt my feelings. Honest.
So, anyway... anyway,
this guy comes home, you see,
and he finds his wife with his best friend.
And the husband says
"Harry, how could you do this?"
And the wife, she says "Why should you
complain? Harry didn't do it to you!"
- What did I tell you? Isn't he a card?
- Class. Real class.
With his gift of the gab
he could go places.
Hey, pal, you oughta quit
that punk job of yours.
- Why don't you join a sales outfit?
- It's no use, boys.
Every time I'm in town, I ask him to go
on the road for our company. Right, pal?
Sure, Ed, sure. Listen, fellas, listen.
Two dames at a bar. One dame says to
another "If I don't get to bed pretty soon,
I'm goin' home and go to sleep!"
Would you make it a merry Christmas
for some poor orphan?
Here you are, lady.
That oughtn't to be allowed
in a place like this.
- Religion don't belong in a speakeasy.
- I know it's Christmas, but...
Mac, wait a minute. Excuse me,
Sister. Excuse me. Excuse me.
Don't tell me we're gonna let
these angels of mercy
go away from here
empty-handed on Christmas Eve.
This joint is the home
of fine bourbon and fast women,
and we need plenty of religion
to keep 'em both in line. So, come on.
Get it up, now. Come on. Oh, come on.
A little action here. What's the matter?
Hey, Lord? Can you hear me
up there, Jesus?
You didn't think we'd forget
your birthday, did you?
There you are, Jesus. And if I had
any more, you'd be welcome to it.
- Thank you, brother.
The Bible says "Never let your left hand
know what your right hand is doing."
What's your beef, mister?
You ashamed of bein' a Christian?
I see. You think religion is for suckers
and easy marks and mollycoddles, huh?
You think Jesus was some kind
of a sissy, eh? Let me tell you,
Jesus wouldn't be afraid to walk in here
or any speakeasy to preach the gospel.
Jesus had guts! He wasn't afraid
of the whole Roman army.
Think that quarterback's
hot stuff? Well, let me tell you,
Jesus would have made the best little
all-American quarterback in history.
Jesus was a real fighter. The best little
scrapper, pound for pound, you ever saw.
And why, gentlemen? Love, gentlemen.
Jesus had love in both fists.
And what is love?
Love is the mornin' and the evenin' star
that shines on the cradle of the babe.
Love is the inspiration
of poets and philosophers.
Love is the voice of music.
I'm talkin' about divine love,
not carnal love.
- That was a beautiful sermon, Parson.
- Thank you, sister.
- I gotta get home to the little woman.
- Here you are, Sister.
Merry Christmas. Thank the Lord,
Sister. Thank the Lord.
- Gotta go. Gotta catch a rattler.
- Me too.
Time to take up a little female
companionship. Wait a minute.
That's a swell preacher act you got, pal.
I gotta catch a rattler myself. Ed,
we still got the whole night ahead of us.
Whatever you do, never lose
that little black address book.
And a merry Christmas to you too, sir.
You'll have to chalk it up.
The rest of these drinks, too.
I oughta get myself a tambourine.
That's the trouble with this stinking world.
Nobody loves nobody.
Mac... the lady's glass is empty.
(Phone rings)(knocking at door)(groans)
- Long-distance phone call.
- What time is it?
The phone call you made
to Mrs Gantry last night?
Oh. Yeah, thanks.
- Merry Christmas, Mr Gantry.
- You too.
And a happy New Year, Mr Gantry.
Well, I'll take...
I'll take care of you downstairs.
Get my bags out now.
(woman) Ready with your call, Mr Gantry
Hello? Oh, hello, Mom. Merry Christmas.
Just a sec, Mom.
I just got back from church myself.
I prayed for you too.
How'd you like my present?
You sure? Gee, that's funny.
Well, maybe it got held up
in the holiday rush.
I just called up to wish you merry
Christmas, that's all, to tell you I love you.
Don't start crying.
I know I promised, but I couldn't get away.
I've been busy. Yeah, business.
Guaranteed and delivered. I'll be home
next Easter. My absolute promise.
Ma, don't cry.
Ma, I gotta go. I really gotta go, Ma.
I gotta catch a train.
Sure. Sure. I'll talk to you. Take care.
(train whistle)(train whistle)(choir singing "I'm On My Way")? I'm on my way? Off to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Off to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? Well, I'm on my way? Off to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Off to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Off to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? Had a mighty hard time? But I'm on my way? Had a mighty hard time? But I'm on my way? It's a mighty hard climb? But I'm on my way? On my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? All along the way? Satan lies a-waitin'? Every night and day? Satan lies a-waitin'? Hear me shout and say? Get behind me, Satan? I'm on my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? Fight the devil and pray? Take another step higher? Fight the devil and pray? Lord, I want to climb higher? Chase the devil away? Lord, I'm caught in his fire? I'm on my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? Lord, I'm on my way? Lord, I'm on my way? Lord, Lord? Lord, I'm on my way? I'm on my way
- You'd better get at this while it's still hot.
- Thank you, brother.
Would you look at this filthy magazine,
Reverend? Shameful. Shameful.
Burn, ye naked Jezebel, burn.
Like a blindin' flash.
"Suddenly there shined round
about him a light from heaven,
- and he heard a voice say unto him..."
- "Saul. Saul."
- "Why persecutest thou me?"
- Saul of Tarsus.
Acts, chapter nine.
"And straightaway he preached.
Christ is the son of God."
- "And all who heard him were amazed."
Excuse me, but you sound
like a preacher.
- Great black-eyed peas, Reverend. Great.
- If you'll be needing a place to sleep...
Thank you kindly, but as soon as
I haul these ashes, I'll be on my way.
- Well, God be with you, brother.
- Put in a good word for me, brother.
- Back again, Mr Gantry?
- Yes, indeed.
Come spring, come the drllmmer man.
Good morning, good morning,
good morning - and a hot morning it is.
Sam, as the blind man said
to the elephant, long time no see.
I got a great new item for you -
an electric toaster that pops.
- An egg beater that's a lulu.
This little devil's
gonna clean up America.
You sold me nine of them
vacuum cleaners last year.
There they are, all nine of 'em.
Well, no harm done. How about
a free snort on the house?
(laughs) That's how you
stuck me the last time.
Ever hear the one about the missionary,
the cannibal and the chorus girl?
This Sister Sharon -
she any good at preachin'?
I don't know. I don't go
to prayer meetings. I mean...
unless business is bad
or I get sick. Times like that.
Say, how about the missionary and
the cannibals and the chorus girl, hm?
There she was in the wildest jungles
of Borneo, without a stitch on,
except her dancin' shoes
and her pith helmet.
Can I speak to Mrs Wilson,
please? Thank you.
Hello? Hello, Sally?
Me. Elmer. Who do you think?
Swell, just swell. How's every
little thing with you, honey?
- Baby, I just got into town.
- (knocking at door)
Hold it a sec, Sal. Come in.
- How did we do?
- Ran out of the money in both races.
Sally? How about tonight, baby?
What time does your husband get home?
But, honey, I won't be here tomorrow.
Well, look, can you come over
for an hour? A half an hour, huh?
Sure, Sal. Sure I understand.
Think nothin' of it, honey. I'll catch
you next time around. Bye, now.
- Did you get the bottle?
You know bootleggers.
They do a cash business.
- Toss you. Double or nothin'.
- No. You're too lucky, Mr Gantry.
- Thank you. Anything else I can do?
- Thanks, kid.
(woman) ? Just now,
your doubting give o'er? Just now, reject Him no more? Just now, throw open the door? Let Jesus come into your heart? Lay we every burden down? Grace our spirits will deliver? And provide a robe and crown? Yes, we'll gather at the river? The beautiful, the beautiful river? Gather with the saints at the river? That flows by the throne of God? Yes, we'll gather at the river? The beautiful, the beautiful river? Gather with the saints at the river? That flows by the throne of God
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
Welcome to the house of God.
(fanfare)? Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord? He is trampling out the vintage
where the grapes of wrath are stored? He hath loosed the fateful lightning
of His terrible swift sword? His truth is marching on? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? His truth is marching on? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? Glory, glory, hallelujah!? His truth is marching on
Oh, my dear, beautiful people.
When I arrived here and I saw
your gracious countryside,
I said to myself "I won't.
I just won't be cooped up
with a lot of stodgy old ministers
discussing hell and damnation!"
So I sneaked out,
and I've been doing what most
of you have been doing - farming.
Milking the cows, lying in the clover,
and letting the joy of God's nature
flow into my heart.
And here's the proof
there's a happy, joyful God,
a bountiful God, a generous God.
Here, Reverend. The Lord's nectar.
And pass it along to those
dear newspaper reporters
so they can wash out the taste of whisky.
tonight I feel gloriously happy,
and I want you to feel happy too.
We're gonna sing together,
laugh together, rejoice together
like carefree children of a happy God.
We're going to rejoice that inside
of us lives the veritable spirit
of the everlasting
redeeming Christ, Jesus.
- Praise the Lord!
Bill, see how many of those dear people
can match God's bountiful gift
with their own offerings.
You darlings can't make milk,
and God just won't make money.
? Stand up, stand up for Jesus? Ye soldiers of the cross? Lift high His royal banner
No preaching tonight. No sermonising.
No sad faces or tears, just happiness.
tomorrow is the last night
of our revival here,
but when I leave,
you're going to carry on my work.
You're all of you evangelists,
every blessed one of you.
Shake hands with the person on your
right. Go on! Ask them if they're saved.
Won't you shake hands for Jesus?
Bless you, brother.
Sing, everybody! Sing his praises!
- Sister Falconer!
- Won't you find happiness in Jesus?
It's happiness to hear your wondrous
message. Can I have a moment?
Excuse me, please. Excuse me.
- Excuse me, please.
- Thank you, brother.
Oh, uh, yes... Sorry. No change.
I picked some flowers for you.
Sister, my son saw the Virgin Mother
on the roof last night after your sermon.
Can you spare me an hour?
I simply can't. Aren't our counsellors
taking care of you? Sister Rachel?
Sister Rachel, see what you can do. Every
one of these lovely people is important.
- May I have your names, please?
- I must congratulate you again.
- Thank you.
- I'm a preacher.
- I know how inspired you must've been.
- What church?
What church? Well, uh, at present,
I don't exactly have a church, but...
What is it this time, brother?
Booze or women?
Why, Sister Falconer. Me?
Whichever one it is,
you have my blessing. Jim?
- Uh, Sister, I, uh...
- Nice try, brother.
- Will prayer cure diabetes?
- Would you give me your address?
- Just a moment.
- What denomination?
- I must talk to you.
- If you'll just leave your name.
- I have an important message for you.
A message? From Sister Falconer?
- I heard you sing last night.
I know flattery don't mean much
to a talented person like you,
but when you sang that
inspiring song "Beulah Land",
it made me realise that music
is the voice of love.
- And what is love?
Love is the morning and the evening star.
America. A land of great opportunity.
Take me. I've been with the Central
States Appliance Company a year.
I'm their crack salesman already. They
wanna make me a partner. It's a great life.
Folks in states know me by my
first name. Makes a fella feel humble.
- Would you like to start with a cocktail?
- A cocktail in the middle of the day?
Don't you know that drinkin' is sinful
and against the principles of Coolidge?
I meant shrimp cocktail.
Just bring us some of
Mother's apple pie and coffee.
Tell me, when did you
first start servin' God?
Two years ago. In Cato, Missouri. Sister
Sharon's gospel singer got hurt in a riot.
A riot? In a Christian town like...
What was the name?
Cato, Missouri. Yes, some roughnecks
started yellin' and screamin' and hollerin'.
During the services?
Sister Sharon yelled to a farmer on our
side "Hit him one for the Lord, brother!"
Apple pie. They ought to write
a song about apple pie.
A gospel song. And you should sing it.
(whistle blows)(conductor) All aboard!
- Godspeed the good work, Sister!
- Good luck, Sister Sharon!
Godspeed, Sister Sharon! Good luck!
Our advance man in Lincoln, Nebraska,
got drunk, and he's disappeared.
No more business tonight.
- Thank heavens. When I didn't see you...
- Thinkin' about you every second.
The fire department in Lincoln say
that we can't put up a tent our size.
- The church committee are bickering...
- Please, Bill.
The gentleman with Sister Falconer.
- Mr Morgan?
Tell him Mr Lefferts would like to see him
out back on the observation platform.
Thank you, sir.
Mr Lefferts? My name is Gantry.
- Sorry I woke you up.
- Then why did you do it?
Oh, I recognised you.
I had to congratulate you on those
articles you wrote about evolution.
Not only scarifyin' and sensational,
but very funny.
Tell me somethin', Jim boy. I know
you got one of them Pulitzer prizes,
but you don't really believe in
all that evolution junk, now do you?
- Then you must believe
- that God himself is a gorilla.
- How did you arrive at that conclusion?
It says in the Bible
"God created man in his own image."
Sister Sharon -
she's pretty important news, eh?
What's your interest in her?
- Can I be frank with you?
- She fascinates me.
- You'll have to get in line.
You also have to get over
a hurdle first, name of Bill Morgan.
Say, I almost forgot. He's comin' out
to see you, right about now.
He's got some secret information.
Thanks a lot, Jim boy. Thanks a lot.
- You all right?
- Yes, fine. I was just wondering...
I'm sorry, this seat is taken.
Even the Lord never turned
his back on a sinner.
I am not the Lord, but I am tired.
Now, will you please go away?
You weren't so tired and all of life
two years ago in Cato, Missouri.
- That's where we met.
Yes. On a Friday night, it was.
Remember? Remember the riot?
Some roughnecks got to whoopin'
and hollerin' and fightin', and you yelled
- "Hit him one for the Lord!"
- That's what I said.
And that's exactly what I did.
I busted him one for the Lord.
Oh, it was a lovely fight!
When I saw you in Cato, I thought I was
seein' an angel, and you haven't changed.
- A very tired angel.
- It's no wonder,
givin' everybody else hope and courage,
nobody to lean on yourself.
I suppose this is a generous offer
to let me lean on you.
I wouldn't have the nerve, Sister.
- Yesterday, Mr...
..you said you were a preacher.
Well, uh, practically, yes. Uh, you see,
the semester I was to be ordained...
They kicked you out of college.
Well, it was a... a tragedy, kind of.
Yeah. A girl.
A girl named Lulu Bains.
- Does she work for you, or you for her?
- We work together.
Would it be unethical to ask just what
you'll write about Sister Sharon?
- It would.
- I'm sorry.
- She's brilliant.
"Inspired" is a more appropriate word.
- It means "touched by the hand of God".
Now, get the picture.
It's Christmas Eve. God's pure snow
driftin' down, and joy in the air.
I enter the Schoenheim church
late at night to pray for guidance.
And what do I find, right behind the altar?
Lulu Bains, my betrothed, my bride-to-be,
half-naked, locked in the arms of
her lover, a cardsharp from Chicago.
A couple of years later he was bumped
off in a gang war, God rest his soul.
Well, that's it, I guess.
I lost all interest in religion.
But when I saw you,
it was like a call from beyond.
Could I see you again?
Have breakfast with me?
What's your hotel room number
in Lincoln, hm? Tell me.
You're so completely... so outrageous.
I... I think I like you.
I guess I've been around
sanctimonious folks too long.
and you smell like a real man.
Yes, I'll meet you by my tent.
That's where I breakfast. Good night.
- Oh, but, Sister...
- Oh, this time I mean it.
Evening, Brother Morgan. Oh, I wouldn't
bother her now. She's resting, poor child.
The wind will come from there, so keep
the centre poles where you've got them.
That way the canvas won't snap
and crackle all through the sermon.
Here they come.
Morning, Sister! Jim boy!
A lovely morning it is.
- Good morning.
- I woke with a terrific idea.
Later. Good morning, Captain.
- You can't erect that tent here, ma'am.
- Why not?
- Fire laws.
No, ma'am. No nonsense
at all. No, ma'am.
"Ma'am" is a contraction for "madam".
I am not a madam,
a calibre of woman I'm sure you
know well and do business with.
How many have been put out
of business by fire laws?
- Your tent holds over people...
- Captain, this is Mr Lefferts,
- a reporter for the Zenith Times-DisPatch
- Zenith? Welcome. This is Fire Chief...
Isn't it a fact, Mr Lefferts, that the whisky
big shots want me closed down?
They certainly don't think
you do their business any good.
Know why? I'm not afraid to fight whisky
and repeal with police help or without it.
- If you're accusing me of not...
- I am. Do you enforce Prohibition?
I certainly do.
How many speakeasies could you
take the captain to in his home town?
- Without a membership card? .
- (Sharon) Fire laws!
Do you see any of my workmen smoking?
Do you mind? This might start a fire.
- If they don't smoke inside...
- You're welcome to see tonight.
A little bit of salvation
will do you both some good.
Sister Sharon! Never did I ever see
anybody handle the cops the way you did.
All right. What's this terrific idea
you woke up with?
Yes, well... How would it be if I addressed
your meetin' as a saved businessman?
I could talk on the hard,
practical dollars-and-cents value
of Christ in commerce.
Tom, slacken off that rope. It's too tight.
By the way, what is
your business? Hold-ups?
You're a card. I sell
for Central Appliances.
- Don't you like your job?
- Why, sure. It's a great life.
I'm their crack salesman. Only last month
they wanted to make me a junior partner.
Would you believe that people in states
call me by my first name? Elmer.
No use kiddin' you, is there?
It's no life at all.
Filthy, dreary hotel rooms.
Always chasin' trains.
Always tellin' dirty stories
to keep the buyers laughin'.
Always the pint bottle
to prove you're a sport.
That kind of fella's no success at all.
He's just a tramp in a silk shirt.
I could tell the sinners
I'm a... I'm a salesman, just like that.
I come into one of them...
miserable hotel rooms.
I got no sales to chalk up.
Nothin' to read. I'm lonely.
I'm just dyin' for a drink. Some of them
salesmen drink somethin' terrible.
And I reach my hand into
a dresser drawer... and what do I find?
A Gideon Bible. That's what I find.
Yes. Yes, go on.
I reached my hand into a dresser drawer,
and I found a Gideon Bible.
I found a Gideon Bible.
I was so lonely and miserable,
I might as well have been in hell.
I was in hell. I knew
all the salesman's tricks.
Why wasn't I rich?
Why wasn't I successful?
I opened the Bible,
and I read the th Psalm.
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress."
"The Lord is my fortress."
Do you hear that? The Lord.
- Praise the Lord!
- The Lord is my rock!
The next mornin'
I walked into a general store.
"What are you sellin' today?
Gold-plated vacuum cleaners?"
"No, sir. You can get better vacuum
cleaners at Sears and Roebuck,
and you can get 'em cheaper, but
you can't beat our electric toasters."
He sat down and wrote me
the biggest order of the year.
Can you hear me, Lord? Thank you, Lord.
I didn't make that sale, Lord.
You did. Thank you.
And when I told my pals...
when I told my pals I was
comin' to Jesus, they laughed.
But Sister Falconer didn't laugh.
She said "Go ahead, brother.
Give 'em hell."
I'm going to give you
all the hell in the Bible,
and if you don't like it, fix it up with
the Lord because the Lord put it there.
Listen to me, sinners.
Listen to me, sinners.
You can't pray to kingdom come
and play bridge or poker. And, Mother,
you can't say your psalms and look
at God through the bottom of a beer mug.
And you, brother,
you can't go to church on Sunday
and cheat at business on Monday.
We're comin' back to you, God. We're
comin' back to the old-time religion!
And what is religion?
What is religion?
Religion is love.
And love is the morning
and the evening star.
Love, the eternal glorious musicmaker.
Love! Not the carnal love,
but the divine love.
And where does this great love
come from? It comes direct from God!
I admit I'm not smart like some of them...
some of them smart-alecky professors,
wise-guy writers and agitators.
I know nothing of theosophy, philosophy,
psychology, ideology or any other ology.
But I know this.
With Christ, you're saved,
and without him, you're lost.
And how do I know
there's a merciful God?
Because I've seen the devil
plenty of times!
Any punk ball player
can make a slide like that.
But how many folks have got the guts
to play ball on God's team?
And listen to this. The captain
of that team is Jesus Christ himself.
So, come on, man, woman, child.
Who'll be the first
to shake hands for Jesus?
Come on, now! Everyone!
Are you gonna make me beg and beg
when I'm offerin' you my Jesus?
Did the Saviour die in vain?
Did he suffer on the cross for nothin'?
Argh! My God, I can't stand it!
Oh, my God, no! Not any more!
Sinner, I'll fight you every day in the week
for God and twice on Sundays!
Help me. Brother Gantry, save me.
I sin every day!
Tell me what to do, please.
Tell me what to do!
- (band Plays and PeoPle sing)? Throw out the lifeline? Somebody's drifting away? Throw out the lifeline? Throw out the lifeline
Bless you for bringing us
such a wonderful man.
- Sister Sharon.
- Bless you, Brother Gantry.
You've changed my whole life.
You're such a good man.
- This light supposed to be kept burnin'?
Sometimes folks come just to touch
where Sister Sharon stands.
Say, I heard you talk tonight.
- How'd you like it?
- Mister, I've been converted five times.
Billy Sunday, Reverend Biederwolf, Gypsy
Smith, and twice by Sister Falconer.
I get terrible drunk,
and then I get good and saved.
Both of them done me a powerful lot
of good - gettin' drunk, and gettin' saved.
Well, good night.
Are you praying, or planning to take over?
Did I do all right?
I mean, did I do all right for you?
Yes, you were fine. Really fine.
I cried like everybody else.
No, but... Tell me the truth, please.
converts out of people?
That's a truth of some kind.
- Morgan thought you were vulgar.
- Do you?
- Think I'm vulgar?
- But you like me.
- Very much.
- Not very much.
Forgive me, Sharon.
- You've got me plumb hypnotised.
- No, you're just hungry, that's all.
But I can hypnotise, because
God chose me to do his work.
- Sure, me too.
I chose you. The big difference
between you and me is that I believe.
I really believe.
- You'd like to join us, wouldn't you?
- Oh, yes.
- Report at nine. We'll discuss salaries...
- I got swell ideas for promotions.
- Radio, the third ear of the human race...
- You smoke, don't you?
- I can smell it. Will you stop it altogether?
- Well, yes...
- The drinking, too?
- Oh, sure. If that's what you want, I...
- It is.
Evening, Brother Gantry.
Jim boy! Say, all the time Shara and me -
uh, Sister Falconer and me...
Yep. Sitting right over there.
- You're not gonna write about this?
- Boy kisses girl? Hell, that's not news.
You're slipping, brother. You know,
when you first hooked me on that train,
I thought you were a friendly,
likeable, self-respecting first-class bum.
And now... now look at you.
Where'd you get your style?
- Just let her rip, I guess.
- I've heard powerful Bible-wallopers,
but you not only put the fear of God
into them, you scared the hell out of 'em.
And the way you strung certain words
together - "America, home, mother".
"Heaven, hell... Love, hate, sin".
You know, it's a funny thing, Jim.
I get up here and I... I see them out there.
Next thing you know,
I'm howlin', they're moanin'.
It's like a mighty spirit
movin' inside of me.
Words and ideas come pourin' out
like... like riled-up strangers.
I feel so powerful and full of love,
I'm about to explode.
I do explode.
And then I just about love everybody
Especially the girls.
Yes, this is where I belong, all right.
Right here, in religion.
Even if it is a tent.
Every circus needs a clown,
And you might turn out to be the funniest
clown of 'em all. And the most successful.
Jim boy, you're terrific. Terrific.
Some of them smart-aleck college
professors are trying to prove
that this here ape is your
Come back here. Let folks see you.
Well, he might be Darwin's uncle,
but he certainly ain't yours or mine.
Just a monkey, folks. Just a monkey.
Would Jesus play poker?
Would St Paul play the stock market?
What do you think will get you
into God's own glorious heaven?
This ace of spades?
Your bank book?
Or this pledge to be a good Christian?
Sin, sin, sin.
You're all sinners!
You're all doomed to perdition.
You're all goin' to
the painful, stinkin', scaldin',
everlastin' tortures of a fiery hell,
created by God for sinners, unless...
unless you repent!
Repent with Sister Falconer!
Let that man alone! Let him alone!
Go ahead and bark, brother.
Go right ahead and bark!
There he is! The devil!
Bark that devil outta this tent!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
(Morgan) ..the most disgusting display
of bad taste in my experience.
A human barking dog.
A monkey in the pulpit.
That's why it can't go on.
And it's obvious to everyone - even
dangerous. Especially before Jim Lefferts.
And our newspaper friend...
He's about as friendly as a rattlesnake.
- Then you think it's wrong.
- Not wrong. Ridiculous.
One minute you're preaching
a happy, perfumed heaven,
the next, Gantry's damning everyone
to a scalding, stinking hell.
- I'd say we make a pretty good team.
Yes, like two cops
working over a criminal.
Gantry scares him with the electric chair,
you save him if he confesses.
The point is, our sinner does confess,
and he is saved.- (Morgan) But it was ridiculous.
- Does the method really matter?
Who is this, uh, this Elmer Gantry?
And what do you really know about him?
His background, his reputation?
What does he want?
Money? My job? You? What?
- In Mr Gantry
was expelled from
a theological seminary in Kansas
the deacon's daughter in the church
where he had that day
delivered a Christmas sermon.
And there's more. Do you wanna hear it?
Ladies and gentlemen,
you see before you a magic carpet.
A heavenly summons.
A ticket to the big time. Listen to this.
"Would you consider meeting with
the church committee and myself
about bringing your revival to our fair city
of Zenith, capital of America's Midwest?"
"Kindly telegraph reply immediately.
Signed, George F Babbitt, Secretary,
Zenith Chamber of Commerce,
Chairman of the Church Board."
- We're not ready for Zenith.
- Mr Babbitt thinks we are.
I know we are. Next stop, Zenith.
Then Chicago, New York, London.
Straight to the top
on the Sharon Falconer Express!
- In a tent? They'll laugh at us.
- Not at Shara.
It's pitchman's talk. What do you know
about the background of our work?
The nature of revivalism is rural.
It grew out of frontier life.
- Big-city people are more cynical...
- They're more sinful, too.
And more lonely
and more unhappy. And...
And, Shara, they need you more.
- I'm against this.
- Bill boy, you're an old sourpuss.
- This is a passport to the Promised Land.
- Gantry, I am not your boy.
You deluded her, but to me,
everything about you's offensive.
You're a crude, vulgar show-off, and
your vocabulary belongs in an outhouse.
Show-off, huh? You know something?
You're right, Bill. Let's put it this way.
You're a five-dollar textbook.
Me, I'm a two-cent tabloid newspaper.
You're too good for the people.
I am the people. Sure, I'm common -
just like most people.
The common people put Christianity
on the map in the first place.
What are you saying, Shara?
That you want to go to Zenith? Now?
I wonder what God wants.
All right, Shara. All right.
Maybe you are ready for Zenith.
- Thank you. I'll be with you in a minute.
- Just think of it, Shara. Zenith.
I think the answer to Mr Babbitt
ought to come from you.
Tell 'em we're ready to talk, but they gotta
act fast. Only don't say it as crude as that.
No, no. I'll use some of my
sweet-smelling five-buck words, huh?
I knew we could work together.
Gantry, uh... I just hope you don't
have any ideas about who's boss.
Why, the boss is God.
I'm just his messenger boy.
I'm sure God will be relieved.
- Leave the money matters to me.
- If they get a guarantee, what do we get?
- Why is cash necessary at all?
Gentlemen, without a guarantee,
a revival is impossible.
As chairman, I can say I want the revival,
but we're ministers, not financiers.
- I agree. After all, $ ...
- Will be raised.
- How, Mr Babbitt?
- By decent, respectable people
- who want to see old-time religion...
- I agree.
- Please let me finish.
- Of course, George.
- Thank you, Charlie.
- OK, then.
Everybody knows that I contribute more
to charity and poverty and things
than anybody, hm?
Hey, now, didn't my real-estate company
give you that corner lot rent-free
for your church baseball team, huh? Hm?
And I'm not even a Methodist! (laughs)
All right, then. I always say, business
is business - that's the American way!
- Now, if you boys...
- Why do you want a revival in Zenith?
Oh, I know what you're gettin' at, Phil.
You don't fool me for a second.
- We're aware of the financial problems.
- Are we aware, sir?
- My church hasn't been painted for years.
- Whose fault is that?
What about the gymnasium?
In my area, getting milk for
the children is the problem.
Your problem is
empty churches, gentlemen.
That is a fact.
The fact is that church attendance
is falling off everywhere.
Sister Falconer can fill your churches.
That's why you're here in the first place.
- Tea, Mr Babbitt?
- I always say, if you're sick, call a doctor.
- I agree.
Now, uh, let's look at
the record, gentlemen.
Sister Sharon has been in Lincoln -
this is going on the fifth week now.
new church members,
- in one church alone.
- My church.
decisions for Christ, gentlemen.
Actual converts who signed pledges.
Not our statistics,
but printed in
your own Zenith newspaper.
And written up by... by Jim Lefferts,
a Pulitzer prizewinner.
Does the record show how long your
converts remain church members?
Well, I always say,
when in doubt, take action.
- Let's vote.
- All in favour?
- Uh, just a moment, please.
- You're out of order.
- There's a motion on the floor.
- May I say something, please?
You have our...
undivided attention, Sister.
Wouldn't it be a much happier world if
money was not the third arm of religion?
He can't paint his church.
You can't have your gymnasium.
No child should be without milk.
And my expenses are high enough to run
a factory - I practically do run a factory.
Who do you think pays for my staff? The
musicians, the men who put up the tent.
Truck transportations, railroad fares,
food bills. Advertising and printing bills.
Electric bills, insurance bills, hotel bills.
The church committees always
expect a contribution from me,
and they always get it. And when I leave
town five weeks later, you get the benefit.
You have the flock,
and I have to start all over again.
No, gentlemen, you don't want a revival.
And I'm afraid you don't want me, either.
I think these gentlemen would like
a little privacy to kick things around.
- Thank you, Mr Gantry.
- Excuse me.
I'm not ashamed to admit
our churches are half-empty.
- The ball parks are full.
- So are the races.
Vote to do what? Marry the Church
to a three-ring circus?
To barkers who say
they're messengers of God?
Who reduce frightened farmers to howling
dogs? All very entertaining, I'm sure.
We are in competition
with the entertainment business.
- I'm not.
- Then you ought to be. Huh?
How about your bingo games?
And how about your baseball games
and square dances?
Now, ain't that entertainment?
What's the difference?
It's up to us to make a success out of
Christianity, keep the churches full.
What has religion
to do with filling churches?
Once there were only
Christians in the entire world.
Was Christianity a failure?
Did God go out of business?
Kee-rect! Christianity is a going concern,
a successful international enterprise.
If you boys don't get
young people back into church,
if you don't keep the train on the tracks,
your church boards are gonna
find somebody else who will.
Isn't that clear, Reverend Garrison?
Speaking for myself,
not my congregation or its church board,
religion is not a business.
And revivalism is not religion.
And my vote is no.
- Good night, gentlemen.
Well, look around you, boys. Young folks
crying out they're the lost generation.
Godless anarchists on every street
corner, and he walks out on a crisis.
Do you realise that practically
every president of the United States
was a Mason and a Protestant?
And every session of Congress
opens with a word
from the King James version of the Bible.
And right now, in our enlightened age,
a Catholic is running for president.
- Mr Babbitt...
Don't say another word.
George, I agree with you.
If revivalism can do the job...
Zenith had a revival years ago.
It saved everybody in sight for miles,
but today we still have
the same problems.
(Babbitt) Order, order. Now, now, now.
Gentlemen, if you'll only
leave the money matters to me.
(knocking at door)
- Welcome to Zenith, Sister.
- Congratulations. A wise decision.
Gentlemen, all your churches will be
closed while the revival is in progress.
- Great folks, aren't they?
- Swell, George, just swell.
When Sister Falconer says "Shake hands
for Jesus", the chorus starts singing.
- Brother Gantry...
- Just a sec. Ushers wear these badges.
The minute folks start comin' in,
you go into action.
Keep 'em movin'. Get pledge cards into
their hands, and don't forget the pencils.
Now, you counsellors, you'll wear
these lapel pennants. Pretty, eh?
German-speaking, hold up your hands.
Ask if they're regular church
members. Also, what church.
And it don't matter what church. Now,
some folks are gonna wanna cry. Let 'em.
"God is love."
Well, that's it, I guess.
Tonight's the big night.
Are we gonna make a touchdown for
Jesus Christ? Any further questions?
- Brother Gantry...
- OK, then. At . we hit the line.
God is love. Sister Sharon's sanctuary.
May I help you?
Yes, sir, that's right.
Every evening at . .
Yes, you may take a trolley car.
The line's th Street.
Yes. Yes, I understand.
Well, if you're lonesome and restless,
Sister Sharon recommends that
you read Psalm or Psalm .
Do you know of a better
product to sell than God?
Uh, Sister, one more question.
- I'm sorry, what was that question again?
- I said...
Sister, in what branch
of the Church were you baptised?
Hold it, Sister!
Sister, I'm afraid you have a problem
with the fire department again.
- The fire department?!
- I've got the chief on the phone.
- Oh, Sister...
- Excuse me.
- ..could I just ask one more question?
What you'll be wearing
for the opening night?
You looked as if you had about enough
of "who, what, when, where".
May I have some water, please?
- You tired?
- Oh, these last two days.
The aspirin age.
Nervous about opening tomorrow night?
- I don't know.
- What about Gantry?
He's got all the nerve
in the world, but no nerves.
You want to know the truth?
I'm scared to death of you city people.
Don't be. The women will worship you,
and the men will love you.
I'll be there, too.
Just as sure as God plagued the earth
with pestilence and locusts,
you and I... to doom!
I tell you, the end of the world is comin'.
It's coming this September th!
- It says so in the Bible!
- Revivals are against organised labour!
(congregation sings "Marching to Zion")(college boys sing
"The Star-SPangled Banner")
Hallelujah! The Lord's name be praised!
Stop it, you scallywags! Stop!
Come on, boys.
All right, the locomotive. Here we go.
(whistle) Boom!(whistle) Boom!
- Sis-boom, Sister!
- Play Sister's introduction.
(? "The Battle Hymn of the RePublic")
Arrest them. Arrest all of them.
I don't know who started the fuss inside.
The ones outside ain't breakin' any laws.
- First arrest them. Then we'll find out...
- I wouldn't do that.
You wanna start a riot?
Folks have gotta have
stretchin' room for their feelings.
Now, why don't you sit down
and get close to God? lt'll be all right.
? Glory, glory, hallelujah? Glory, glory, hallelujah? His truth is marching on? Glory, glory, hallelujah? Glory, glory, hallelujah
- They're ready for you, Shara.
- You certainly promoted us into Zenith.
You certainly filled our tent,
didn't you? But with what?
You and your people.
Those aren't people. They're a mob.
They're one big animal. I'm not letting
Shara go out there to be humiliated.
And what's your plan? To run?
Where? Back to the sticks?
If we don't win them over tonight,
there'll be no place to run.
- Shara, you've got to face them.
- And do what? Blow them kisses?
Tell them all to be nice little boys
and girls? No, Gantry. No. No.
Zenith is your idea.
Those are your people. You face 'em.
They want Shara.
Listen to me, Shara.
Big-city people have got
a coat of hard varnish,
but underneath, they're just as sick
and scared as anybody else.
People everywhere are the same
in one thing - they're all afraid to die.
They hope you can save them.
And you can, Shara.
You can, Shara.
You can, Shara.
(college boys) Hip, hip, hooray!
Hip, hip, hooray!
Hip, hip, hooray!
(boys cheer)(singing dies out)
Some of you are troubled.
of my motives.
You want to know my credentials.
Who am I?
Who sent me?
Some of you have come
to sit in judgement of me.
But who among you is wise enough
to be a judge in the house of God?
For even though you speak with the
tongue of an angel and have not charity,
you are as sounding brass.
If I have sinned...
then God will punish me.
If I am lost in the wilderness,
then God will show me the way back.
Will you pray with me for guidance?
God won't mind if you get
a little dirt on your knees!
(old man) I believe in you, Sister.
- Oh, bless you, brother.
- I believe in you, Sister.
(choir sings "What a Friend
We Have in Jesus")
No. No. No music.
Please. Please, no singing, no music.
Let us just pray.
Will you pray with me?
Are you too proud to kneel, Mr Lefferts?
You may not believe in God...
but God believes in you.
I am set upon by enemies
and I know not why.
The Lord has said "He that believeth
on me believeth not on me...
but on him that sent me."
"And if any man hear my words
and believe not...
I judge him not.
For I came not to judge the world,
but to save the world."
Now is my soul troubled.
But what shall I say?
Shall I say "Father, save me"?
But it is for this cause
that I came unto this hour.
- Dearly beloved...
- (congregation) Dearly beloved...
..avenge not yourselves, for it is written...
..for it is written...
- ..if thine enemy hunger...
- ..if thine enemy hunger...
- ..feed him.
- ..feed him.
- If he thirst...
- If he thirst...
- ..give him drink.
- ..give him drink.
- Be not overcome with evil...
- Be not overcome with evil...
..but overcome evil with good.
..but overcome evil with good.
? Glory, glory, hallelujah? His truth is marching on(man) Hallelujah!
- Brother Gantry...
- Sister Rachel.
She'll be out in a moment.
Didn't I tell you?
Didn't I spot her genius first?
There's been nothing like her
since Joan of Arc! I always say -
and you can quote me on this one, boys -
there's nothing succeeds like success.
- Let's get 'em outta here.
- A triumph over doubt and dissension.
- Biggest thing in Christianity.
- Can I have a picture?
Not me, and Sister's had
a tryin' ordeal, but thank you.
I was saying, if it doesn't get you here...
The poor child's practically out
on her feet. Let's give her a break.
Sure. Sure. Sure. Come on, boys, let's
give the little lady a break, shall we?
Time to say good night. We appreciated
all of you. Thanks for your cooperation.
Good night, Sister.
- Good night, Mr Morgan.
- Good night.
- Good night, Bill.
- Mr Babbitt.
- Never have made it without you.
- Thanks, Elmer. Good night. Good night.
- Brother Gantry...
- Sister Rachel.
Here's a young lady who deserves
your attention - our maestro of music.
Captain Holt - a real Trojan.
Thank you. Good night.
- Thank you, sir.
- Bill, I'll see if she needs anything.
Gantry... thank you.
- Yes. Yes.
- Good night.
Bill boy. Yes.
- Good night.
- Good night.
Are you decent?
Zenith Times-DisPatch? Just a moment.
Slug this "Lead all, article one."
Revivalism came to Zenith last night.
After six years of backwoods success,
Sister Sharon Falconer -
faced a fractious,
overflowing, metropolitan crowd.
- (Phone rings)
Jim Lefferts. Uh, later, please.
- "Metropolitan crowd."
Many came to jeer...
but stayed to cheer.
Sister Sharon tamed the Philistines
with a simple prayer.
The big-city hicks swallowed the
chocolate-coated pill with hosannas.
- Give me a start on that, would you?
- Yeah, yeah.
if simple prayer was
the main attraction of revivalism...
Sister's tent would soon be as empty
as the churches she claims she can fill.
What... is a revival?
Is it a church? Is it a religion?
Or is it a circus sideshow
complete with freaks, magic,
Why does a revival attract thousands?
To see a miracle? To be saved from
a lifetime of sin in five minutes?
To be entertained, cured, cuddled,
in quick, painless salvation?
Zenith is the heart of the Bible Belt. This
is an age that likes noise and whoopee.
We're a fertile land
for corn, beans, squash,
rumble-seat sex, and revivalism.
(Lefferts) What qualifies someone to be
a revivalist? Nothing Nothing at allThere is not one law
in any state in the UnionProtecting the Public from the
hysterical onslaught of revivalistsBut the law does Permit them
to invest in tax-free ProPerty,and collect money,
without accounting for how it is usedWhat do you get for your money?
Can you get into heavenby contributing one buck or ?Can you get life eternal by shaking hands
for Jesus with Elmer Gantry?
"Continued on page three."
"I watched this unholy trinity - Falconer,
Gantry, Morgan - save Nebraska."
"Has sin in that state been washed away?
Is there less envy, lust or adultery?"
- Gee, I hope not.
- Break it up. A party of johns want action.
- Keep readin', honey.
- But, Lulu, they'll be right over.
- Drop dead!
- Cigarette me, Pete, honey.
- Honey, read!
"To Elmer Gantry, God is an all-American
football player with a long white beard,
who carries lightning in one hand,
and a bag of tricks in the other."
"And Gantry has the high-pressure
style and personality to sell this God
even to big-city slickers."
"He can make
innocent people feel guilty...
and bad people feel good."
"Gantry has a voice made for promises."
- Can he save anybody?
- Can he?
Can he? Anywhere, any time.
In a tent, standin' up,
layin' down, or any other way.
And he's got plenty of ways!
Lulu? Was you saved
by him, Lulu, honey?
Sister, I was saved by him
way back in Schoenheim, Kansas.
"Love... love is the mornin'
and the evenin' star."
"And what is love?
Not the carnal, but the divine love!"
Oh, he gave me special instructions
back of the pulpit Christmas Eve.
He got to howlin' "Repent. Repent!"
And I got to moanin' "Save me. Save me."
He rammed the fear of God into me so
fast I never heard my old man's footsteps.
The next thing I knew, I was out in the
cold, hard snow in my bare little soul.
Oh, Brother Gantry, save me!
Don't do it, Shara. Don't get yourself
mixed up in an alley fight. Listen to me...
Why, Georgie, hello!
- You shut up. I am crucified to pieces.
- What's the matter?
What's the matter? "Why did
George F Babbitt underwrite a guarantee
of $ to bring a revival to Zenith?"
"Is Sister Sharon
preaching the word of Jesus
or the gospel of Babbitt's
For God's sakes! I don't want any trouble.
I am in business.
I'm a nd-degree Mason.
George boy, don't take
this thing so seriously!
- I just sure as hell don't think it's a joke!
- We'll lick it, Georgie!
"Georgie!" My telephone
has not stopped ringing.
Everybody's mad at me or laughing at me.
Even my own family's turned against me.
As of right now,
I am cancelling out on my support -
financial and every other way.
George, you've got to fight back!
- Fight the press?
Mister, do you know anybody
ever licked the newspapers?
Me and you.
Besides, I am for a free press,
and for free enterprise,
and for... whatever the hell
the other freedoms are!
But, Reverend, you invited us here.
If you withdraw your support now, you're
endorsing this vicious newspaper smear.
- These telegrams of protest...
- There's always a lunatic fringe...
These are from my parishioners. These
are complaints from my church board.
Even my national superior
telephoned me long-distance.
I'm sorry, Mr Morgan.
- If you turn against us now...
- What I do doesn't matter.
Public opinion has turned against you.
That does matter.
- Tell him it's Sister Sharon Falconer.
- (knocking at door)- No, I'll wait.
- Did you find Mr Gantry?
- Nobody's seen him since he left.
- His hotel room?
- Hasn't been there all day.
Yes? Mr Eddington?
I want to see you. No, sir, at once.
No, your office will be fine.
Will you please have Mr Lefferts there?
happened to Mr Gantry.
Forget Mr Gantry.
- Evening, George.
- I'm busy.
I had a busy day myself.
Lombard Street, two-storey building.
Owner: George F Babbitt.
- I don't know what you're talking about.
- Of course. Maple Street.
Store front, apartment in rear.
Owner: George F Babbitt.
- Business: prostitution.
- On my property?
- Well, I'll have them evicted.
- Of course. Of course.
You've been victimised, George.
- Same as me.
Evening, boys. Never bet into an open
pair... unless you've got the lock!
- Say good night, George.
- Oh, this?
Well, we're just playing for chips -
you know, sociable.
- You takin' me for a ride or somethin'?
- To the publisher of the Times-DisPatch
- You got somethin' on him, too?
- I got you.
- Yeah, sure, but...
- It's getting late, George.
The point is, why did he write this trash,
and why did you publish it?
- Are you suggesting censorship, Miss?
- Only fair play.
- This is muckraking!
- Is it true?
- Then sue us for libel.
Oh, you're much too clever for that.
It's what you imply - the veiled slurs.
- Hints that I misused collection money.
- I never said that.
Did I ever preach anything
but God's word? Well? Did I?
- Are you ordained?
Do you hold a degree from any
recognised theological seminary?
- Does Gantry?
Are you sanctioned
to preach by any church?
No, Mr Lefferts, but... neither was Peter
or Paul or any of the other apostles.
Ah, but they said that they lived with
the Son of God, were taught by him,
were sanctified by him.
What gives you
the right to speak for God?
I couldn't possibly be doing
God's work without his approval.
How did you get his approval?
Did God speak to you personally?
Did he send you a letter?
Did you have a visitation from God?
A burning bush, perhaps?
Where in the New Testament does it say
that God spoke to anyone except his son?
But it does say in the First Corinthians
"Let your women
keep silence in the churches."
"It is a shame for women
to speak in the church."
Congratulations, Jim boy. I see you're
a student of the Bible. I'm delighted.
What is it? Are you responsible for some
of these crackpot calls I've been getting?
- You want Mr Lefferts fired, too?
Why, I'd give Jim a bonus
for boostin' circulation.
I thought you came to bury Caesar,
not to praise him.
Shakespeare. Ah, yes. A moment ago you
used the Bible... to whip Sister Sharon.
- I merely quoted it as a source.
- Of course. As a good newspaperman,
you wouldn't use information
unless it was fact, would you?
Tell me somethin', Jim.
Is the Bible fact?
Well, come on, Jim boy.
Did God create the universe in six days?
Did He make the sun stand still
to help Joshua lick the Amalekites?
- You don't believe Moses parted the sea?
- God wrote the Ten Commandments?
Or that the dead were raised
and the blind cured?
And people were fed
with five little fishes
and two little itty-bitty loaves of bread?
You don't believe in any of the miracles
in the Holy Bible, do you?
No more than I believe that black cats or
spilt salt or broken mirrors are bad luck.
Or that God can be jealous
or bloodthirsty or vengeful.
Or that Jehovah sanctions bigamy
and stupidity and slavery.
In other words,
you don't believe in the Bible.
I believe that the Bible is a book
of beautiful poetry and wisdom...
But it's not fact.
And if it's not fact,
why would he use it as information,
except to destroy her character?
I heard you say it,
and you'll burn in hell for it.
You can't scare Jim that way.
You see, if you don't believe in the Bible...
you don't believe there's a real hell.
And it follows if there's no real hell, there
can't be a real heaven. Right, Jim boy?
Why don't you get to the point?
Do you believe Jesus Christ
can give us life everlasting?
Do you believe Jesus Christ
can give us life everlasting?
- I'd love to believe it.
- But you don't?
Then you don't accept
Jesus Christ as divine, do you?
Jesus was a great, virtuous teacher.
His faith and courage changed the world.
Do you accept Jesus Christ as divine?
Let me say... I have doubts.
- That's blasphemy!
- Mr Babbitt, to doubt is not blasphemy.
When you say "blasphemy", you mean
"Don't dare disagree. Don't think."
But Tolstoy, Darwin, Jefferson, Lincoln -
they had the same doubts.
Then they'll burn in hell, too!
Mr Eddington, in spite of
Mr Lefferts' confessed bigotry,
I defend your right to publish these
articles. But give us equal rights.
- Your reply'll be published prominently.
- Mr Eddington, I'm no writer.
Now, Jim is brilliant and witty.
Uses words like a stiletto.
He learned from Mencken, Ingersoll,
Sinclair Lewis, other atheists.
- But you own a radio station.
Set the time. Half an hour.
Tonight? Tomorrow? Name it.
Every day for two weeks -
half-hour in the morning and evening.
- Just to answer this article?
- I don't intend to answer anything.
You don't debate the existence of God.
Jim, here, has spread
the poison of doubt and disbelief.
Just give me a chance to spread the
gospel, to raise the banner of Christianity,
to restore the faith he stole.
Now, sir, I realise time means money -
especially radio time.
So our good citizen, George F Babbitt,
has kindly consented to pay for every
minute of radio time. Right, George?
- Thank you, sir. Good night.
Good night, Mr Eddington. Mr Lefferts.
- Jim boy.
I bear you no malice. Mr Babbitt.
Blasphemy! Good night, Mr Eddington.
And you... you ought to be
ashamed of yourself.
Oh, it was... glorious.
Outrageously, blissfully glorious.
Oh, you really are an alley fighter.
You hit Brother Jim both sides of the belt!
You murdered 'em. You knocked
'em flat with a celestial bolt -
eight, nine, ten, and out! Oh, darling!
You didn't fight fair but you've seen
your duty and you've done it. Oh, darling!
Stop it. Stop it. I was crazy.
I was so happy you delivered me!
Can't you understand? God sent you
to me as his instrument, not as my lover.
No, I don't understand. You got me
half-crazy, talkin' to myself.
One minute you're a howling banshee,
the next, you're cold potatoes.
I don't understand anything,
but I worship you.
Well, then, stop treating me
like one of your tramps!
There's no such thing. There's
honest women and dishonest women.
And you want to make
an honest woman out of me. Men!
Don't knock 'em if you haven't tried 'em.
- EncycloPaedia sexualis
- I never read it.
You wrote it! You've just got to have
every woman - old, young, stupid. Even...
Even poor, starved Rachel
with her wet calf eyes.
- May God strike me dead...
- Be careful, or he'll strike you dead
for being the ungrateful liar that you are.
Can't you ever tell the truth?
You wouldn't know the truth if it bit you.
It's you I want, Shara. No one else.
I want you so bad,
I'm in pain half the time.
I'd tear your holy wings off,
make a woman out of you.
I'd show you what heaven is - no golden
stairways or harp music or silvery clouds.
Just ecstasy, comin' and goin'.
Do you really think I'd compete
for your glorious body?
Damn right. Every woman competes
with every other woman for every man.
It's the truth, Shara. You want it.
You want it as much as I do.
You want it with me. When are you
going to make up your mind to take it?
Get in the car. Go on, do as I say.
Turn on the lights, please.
That's what I've been working for.
No more tents. No more
running around like a circus.
No more haggling with committees.
My own tabernacle.
A permanent home. A clinic for
sick bodies. A free soup kitchen.
A place of worship for
everybody of every faith.
That's my first love.
What have you got to match that?
Nothin'. Nothin' at all.
I'm just a hick from Kansas,
and you're real class, Shara.
The only class I've got is the name
Falconer. That's why I picked it.
I'm Katie Jones from shantytown.
That's right. Shantytown.
But does that make a liar out of me?
I am Sharon Falconer now. I've made her.
I've put her together piece by piece
till I've got a right to be her. I am her.
I started building this tabernacle
two years ago,
and when this revival is ended,
I'll have enough money to own it.
Do you think it was blind luck
that brought us to Zenith?
Of course not.
- It was God's will.
- Of course.
- Now do you understand why we...?
- Of course. Of course.
- Nothing's going to take it away from me.
- Nobody must spoil it.
- I've never...
- Of course.
(man) Sister Sharon?
Jim Lefferts is an honourable man.
But so was Brutus.
And we all know that Brutus was
an anarchistic, alcoholic assassin.
Jim "Lucifer" Lefferts calls you good
PeoPle of Zenith suckers, slickers, saPsHe attacks the way you worshiP I don't
notice him attackin' booze or ProstitutionLucifer Jim says he wants to save youHow? By stabbin' Jesus with dirty lies?By assassinatin' God?
I have here in my pocket -
and thank heaven you can't see them -
lewd, dirty, obscene...
And I'm ashamed to say this.
They were sold to me, in front of
your own innocent high school,
by a man with a black beard. A foreigner!
- And last night...
last night, right here on Main Street,
I was accosted by three painted women!
- The tramps.
- Your streets are made unsafeby shameless, diseased hussies,raPacious PickPockets,
and insidious oPium-smokers
And Elmer Gantry.
This newspaper... this newspaper
says everybody's against me.
The mildewed Methodists, Episcopalians,
and Baptists are against me.
Even the ossified, petrified, horizontal,
are against me!
But this newspaper lies!
Some of the preachers
might be against me.
Spiritualism - they hate me!
And what hates me
most of all is Harvardism,
Yaleism, and Princetonism!
But you're some of God's best people.
- And you don't hate me, do you?
- Smack 'em down, preacher!
- Kill 'em! Murder 'em!
Can you hear me, Jesus?
I'd like you to save this
old friend of mine, Jim Lefferts,
who's been writin' all these dirty, black
lies about me. But I'll warn you, Jesus.
You better wear rubber gloves
and use a strong disinfectant.
But if you can save sinner Jim...
I'd like for you to do it.
What the hell's he trying to do?
Shara, they've played
your introduction twice now.
This is the biggest crowd we've ever had.
? Glory, glory, hallelujah? Glory, glory, hallelujah(Gantry) We're all sinners,
every blessed one of us
Booze! Booze put a bullet
through Lincoln and McKinley!
Booze is the way white slavers rob the
virtue of American girls every year!
The bootleggers, the white slavers,
and that newspaper are tryin'
to scare me and Sister outta town!
But as long as I got a foot, I'll kick booze!
As long as I got a fist, I'll punch it!
And as long as I've got a tooth, I'll bite it!
And when I'm old and grey
and toothless and bootless,
I'll gum it, till I go to heaven,
and booze goes to hell!
That's a hell of a speech.
It's been eight days. It's been eight days
since I gave you the addresses
of blind tigers, two cocaine peddlers,
And what's been done about it?
- Nothing, Captain.
We're gettin' sick and tired of scoldin' sin.
We're gonna abolish it!
We'll show 'em how to clean up
this town tonight! Right now!
Elmer, be careful.
Courage, Sister. Courage.
"Onward Christian Soldiers")
Brother Jim! Glad to see you
on the side of the angels.
Aren't you afraid some of these
desperate bootleggers carry guns?
- No bullet could pierce the Holy Bible.
- They might not aim at the Holy Bible.
Very good! Onward!
- Smash that speakeasy door!
- What for? Just knock. They'll open up.
Captain. My good man.
Hold it! All right, Reverend.
- Sinful woman!
- That's a dirty lie! We pay protection!
- Shame! Shame!
- Take 'em away, men!
- Why didn't you give me a phone call?
Don't break the furniture!
- Should've seen what this one was doing.
- Harlot! You ought to be asha...
Arrest this woman!
? ..soldiers, marching as to war
Captain Holt, may I suggest you release
these poor unfortunate creatures?
- What? But you told me...
- I know.
But throwing a prostitute into jail
will not remove her sin.
And it certainly won't get rid of
prostitution. No pictures. No publicity.
Captain Holt, I want to compliment
you and your men on a fine, patriotic job.
Why, thank you, sir.
See these girls leave town. And quick.
Excuse me, Mr Gantry.
That Mr Gantry,
he's absolutely incredible.
The fabulous thing about Mr Gantry
is, he's absolutely credible.
- (man) Excuse me, please.
- She's here, Mr Gantry.- (man) Oh, Mr Gantry...
- Not now. Not now. Later. Later.
There you are. Sister'll see all of you
as soon as she's had a moment's rest.
Mayor, congressman, the governor,
and lookie here, Shara.
Offers... from England, Japan,
Australia, Madison Square Garden...
- From me to you.
- ..the circus.
Shara, you shouldn't have.
How about you sneaking away
with Katie Jones on a real fun picnic?
no newspapers, no sermons.
The only business of the day will be us.
Just the two of us.
- We can't.
- But why? I've got the escape planned.
The car's out front. We'll disappear
before they even know we've gone.
You're gonna cinch a contribution
from the ladies' committee.
At o'clock, we dedicate your
Waters of the Jordan Tabernacle -
the mayor, fireworks,
the brass band, everything.
. lunch, Rosen's department store,
where you say grace for salesmen.
- And at two o'clock...
- I'll be exhausted, irritable and hateful.
Shara... we'll celebrate tonight.
- Tonight's a thousand years away.
Oh, very well. Bring in those smug
little ladies with their fat little hands,
- fat little souls and fat little...
- Don't forget their fat little chequebooks.
- Ladies. Dear ladies.
- Mr Gantry? You're wanted on the phone.
Thank you. Bill. I'll take it right here.
Lovely morning, isn't it?
- Mr Gantry, it's so nice meeting you.
- Sister joyously awaits you.
- Oh, Mr Gantry.
Thank you very much. Hello? Yes,
this is Dr Gantry - uh, Mr Gantry. Who?
Elmer, honey? It's Lulu.
- I just called to say thanks
for gettin' me out of that jam last night.
What's the address?
Mr Gantry, I just had to congratulate you.
You were marvellous last night.
Last night? Oh. Yes.
- Get hold of Benny.
- Now, wait a minute.
- This Gantry bum's a preacher.
- Get hold of Benny.
Are these pictures for
divorce or blackmail?
- Benny, come on!
- Remember, position is everything.
Without any flash powder, you gotta get
this guy to freeze for a couple of seconds.
Time exposure takes time.
So keep him still... and quiet.
- But that's so dull!
- And keep the radio playin'.
- So he don't hear this.
- (camera clicks)
OK, OK. Let's go!
Hey, chick. This preacher fella.
You think you could get him into bed?
- Are you kiddin'?
- (knocking at door)
Hey, Benny. Come on!
- You look swell, kid.
- Sorry about last night.
- Forget it.
- If I'd known I'd run into you, I'd have...
- Oh, that's OK.
- What the hell's the big idea?
- Elmer, honey...
- You think I'll sit still for a shakedown?
- How could I put the squeeze on you?
- Who'll take the word of a hooker?
- The old badger game, huh?
- I only wanted to see you for...
- For what?
- Well, for...
- For what?
Gee, honey, look. Look, I'm almost
packed. The cops gave me notice.
I got a ticket on the midnight bus.
I got no beef against you.
I only wanted to see you once more,
kick around some old memories,
maybe have a few laughs.
Who am I kiddin'?
When you first hit town, I figured
you could go to hell without my help.
When you came bustin' in last night
like God Almighty wearin' a tin star,
I got mad, boilin' mad. All I could think of
was how you took me and ditched me.
That's all I could think of.
Me, little Miss Lulu, the dumb pushover.
And when the cops said
"Get out of town in hours",
all I wanted to do was spit in your eye,
blackmail you, a shakedown -
anything to hurt you.
But when you walked in just now...
it was like the first time
between us all over again.
All goose pimples and...
You'd better beat it.
I'm sorry I phoned.
I won't make any trouble.
Not even if I could.
Please go now.
I did run out on you
back there in Kansas, didn't I?
It's nobody's fault.
Except maybe my old man's.
- Ever hear from him?
- Once, last Christmas.
The letter said "Daughter, read
st Kings, Chapter Verse ."
I looked it up. It said "And the dogs
in the street shall eat Jezebel."
My old man and his Bible.
how is it some people can
only find hate in the Bible?
- Where will you be going to?
- I think I'll go tramping through Paris.
Can you use some cash?
Sort of tide you over?
Just... just kiss me goodbye.
What's she doin'?
Talk to me.
Oh, don't go yet. Please don't go.
Tell me anything.
Tell me a good, strong lie
I can believe, but hold me.
Just hold me like you used to.
- No use, Lu.
- I don't know. I...
- Because of what? Because of her?
That Bible broad?
I'm sorry. No hard feelings.
- Please. Don't go yet.
- Lu, I...
You know, I... I could use
some of that cash after all.
Why, sure. Maybe I could send you some
from time to time. Till you get a job, or...
or maybe meet some nice
respectable man, huh?
I meet nice respectable men every night.
The best bank in America.
- Take care of yourself.
- Likewise, hon.
Class. She's got real class.
Wake up! Wake up, Miss Katie Jones!
You see before you the captain of the
SS HaPPiness, fishing boat extraordinary.
All aboard for a glorious,
carefree, happy cruise.
Fun, fish, frolic... and romance.
(knocking at door)(knocking)(Persistent knocking)
Bill! Not one word, not one, about legal
documents, tents, moneys or lost souls.
We're going on a picnic, see,
and if you squeal, we'll rub you out.
Do you think I'd rat on a couple of pals?
It will be all right, won't it, for one day?
In that outfit, the fish'll jump
into the boat to look at you.
We're going! We're going on a picnic!
I've been promising
to take her on a picnic.
You got that look, Bill. What's the matter?
Elmer the Great. Elmer the Grifter.
The con man conned with
the oldest badger game in the world.
- I don't want Shara to see these.
- She'll have to.
Bill, I'll do anything you say.
I'll... I'll quit. I...
- Don't let Shara see these.
- She's got to see them.
Darling, don't you think we ought
to take Bill on the picnic with us?
- I suppose they're for sale?
- $ .
Two o'clock today. Cash. In small bills.
And she wants Shara
to bring her the money, nobody else.
Her name is Lulu Bains.
Get the money.
One more thing. She wants you to bring
the money to Lombard Street.
That's where she worked
before it was raided.
(woman) Sammy! Get out of the water!(? honky-tonk Piano)(cat yowls)
Make yourself right at home, honey.
Be right there!
I've brought the money.
May I have the negatives, please?
Yeah. Yeah, I read the story,
I saw the pictures.
- Thank you very much.
- Did you see this?
I saw it.
- Did you see this?
Now, I understand she brought
these pictures to you first.
- And you turned her down?
These pictures prove only one thing -
that Gantry's as human as anybody else.
It's the obligation of a free press to print...
You're right, Mr Eddington. A free press
can print anything, including lies.
And that's exactly what
that pornography is: blackmailing lies.
(? "Abide With Me")
Why don't those men take off their hats?
First time I've seen
Reverend Pengilly up there.
First time they've ever
been in trouble up there.
Thank you for coming here tonight.
You have every right to an explanation.
I will try to give it to you.
Tell us about sin, Sister!
(woman) Antichrist! You Judas, you!
- You false prophet!
- You faker, you!
- Liar! Damn your own soul, Mr Gantry!
- You call yourself a preacher?
Come on, Rachel.
Rachel, you've gotta get outta here.
(trumPeter Plays jazz version
of "Onward Christian Soldiers")
Hey, Mr Gantry!
(Phones ringing)- Hello?
- My name is Mrs WelmerI go to church every SundayYou tell that Sister Sharon
- Get outta town, preacher woman!
- Go home, Sister!
- Poor Sister!
O my God...
why hast thou forsaken me?
We'll take you home.
Why'd you do it?
Did... did she show with the money?
Why didn't you go through with it? Why?
You wouldn't understand.
I know. You took
the pictures to the paper
cos they were gonna pay you more, huh?
How much did you get for 'em?
I didn't sell them.
You were never gonna sell 'em...
not even to that Sister woman, were you?
You hate Gantry that much?
Or do you love him that much?
And you're no good to me.
You're no good to anybody!
Don't you know that hurts?
I'm sorry, Lu.
I'm sorry for everything.
Brothers and sisters...
You look like a man
who could use a drink.
Booze. You know somethin', Jim?
There oughta be a law against drinkin'.
- There is. Prohibition.
- That's against sellin', not drinkin'.
- Happy days!
- I'll drink to that.
God, that's good.
Would you look at this place, Jim?
What were they so mad about, anyhow?
The mob don't like
their gods to be human.
- They hurt you?
- Not as much as you hurt me.
What'll you do now?
Well, the way I got it figured, you're up,
you're down, you sin, you're saved.
You do the best you can,
and you leave the rest to the Lord.
You really do believe
in the Lord, don't you?
Damn right I do. It does a man good
to get down on his knees once in a while.
That's why people
come to a place like this,
because they're scared, or sick,
or... because they got no money,
or too much money.
Or before a war, or after a war.
Praying's the cheapest
first-rate medicine I know.
That's why Shara was so good for them.
She's a lotta woman.
You oughta marry her.
- You believe in holy matrimony?
- I can recommend it, never having tried it.
Too late now, Jim boy.
Miss Bains was waiting for me
at the paper with that story.
- How'd you get her to do it?
- I didn't.
The Lord sure moves in mysterious ways.
Any minute now, you will hear
the voice of Sister Sharon Falconer,
but not that, I'm afraid, of Elmer Gantry.
For Mr Gantry has completely vanished
since three nights ago.
I've checked the police,
hospitals, railroads, bus depots...
Where is he? Where?
Every wire service in the country's asking
the same question. He's page-one news.
If anything happened to him,
you'd know it.
Yes, I would know it.
He'll be here, I'm... I'm sure of it.
We'll wait for him.
We can't wait. Some of those people
have been out there since early morning.
- I won't go on without him.
- Maybe he won't be back.
Just a feeling.
We'll wait for him.
"Onward Christian Soldiers")
- Gantry's back.
- How do you know?
Somebody just saw him.
Where's a phone around here?
- What about your friend Gantry?
- Quite a guy! Son of a...
(band Plays fanfare)
Let me look at you.
Three endless days without a word.
Don't you realise how much I need you?
Are you angry? With me?
- No, Shara.
- Don't ever leave me again. Ever.
What would happen if we chucked it all,
beat it across the state line,
get good and married, like most folks?
Have a bunch of kids, take 'em
to a ball game like most folks.
Go dancin'. We've never gone
dancin' together, not even once.
Let's do it, Shara. Tonight. Right now.
- But all those people...
- If they wanna pray...
let 'em go to church.
this is their church.
Look! A shooting star!
It's a sign,
an omen for the glory that begins tonight.
(choir) ? Glory, glory, hallelujah? Glory, glory, hallelujah
Wish me luck.
? Glory, glory, hallelujah? His truth is marching on
If you believe in the faith
of your own Sister Sharon...
..if you believe in
the innocence of Elmer Gantry...
- ..and if you believe in God Almighty...
..reassure them with
a mighty "hallelujah"!
- Hallelujah, Sister!
At this very moment,
the power of the Holy Ghost
has descended on this tabernacle.
He is here.
Here right now.
Just now, across the heavens,
towards the end of the world,
I saw an omen...
a fiery line written by the hand of God,
a glorious shooting star.
Thus, God has told us of his coming.
Have we lost God? Have we lost
contact with the supernatural?
Have we lost faith? Because
without faith, we are morally sick.
Faith... is the strongest force in the world.
Faith can raise the dead.
Faith can heal. Faith is the...
Help me, Sister! Help me!
He can't hear, Sister. He's deaf.
Let him alone, please.
Help me, Sister.
(Morgan) You should take him to a doctor.
God is the greatest healer of all.
Was he born deaf?
A storm woke him up one night. He
screamed he couldn't hear the thunder.
- He could feel it but he couldn't hear it.
- You're his wife?
Yes, Sister. I'm sorry to trouble you.
Do you believe in the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Ghost?
Do you believe that Jesus
could heal by the laying on of hands,
and that he passed
this gift on to his disciples?
Pray with me, everyone.
Please pray with me. I need your faith.
O God, be merciful.
O God, help us in our weakness.
Punish us for our sins,
but reward us for our faith.
Let thy spirit fill this tabernacle.
Let thy holiness bless this house,
created for thy glory,
and thine alone.
Pray for God to heal!
Can you hear me?
I... I think I...
- Repeat after me. Blessed is the Lord.
- Blessed is the Lord.
- We thank thee, O Lord, for thy mercy.
- We thank thee, O Lord.
I can hear.
O God... I can hear!
(choir sings "The Hallelujah Chorus")
Please wait. Please wait.
Don't... don't... don't get excited.
Oh, my God.
- Are you all right?
- Yes. Take care of the others, please.
You're in the house of God!
Those who believe in God will be saved.
Trust in the Lord!
Are you all right, Shara? Shara? Shara?
- No. No. No. No. No!
No, please wait.
No, wait! Please, wait!
Wait! You must have faith!
It's all we could find.
People everywhere would appreciate a
word from you, Mr Gantry. Anything at all.
Speak to us, Mr Gantry.
Please ask Sister Sharon to forgive us.
There ain't nothin' to forgive.
It was mighty hot in there.
Hotter than the fires of damnation.
I ran. I was afraid.
Please ask Sister not to hate me.
Can you hear me up there, Sister?
Do you hate these folks?
She don't hate you. She loves you.
Praise the Lord and his love.
And what is love?
Love is the mornin' and the evenin' star.
Love is the voice of music. So sing.
Sing out the Lord's love.
? I'm on my way? Up to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Up to Canaan land? I'm on my way? Up to Canaan land? On my way? Glory, hallelujah? I'm on my way? It's a mighty hard climb? But I'm on my way? It's a mighty hard climb
That was inspired.
- Think that was inspired, Jim boy?
- I think it was real friendly.
You know, Shara would...
want you to go on with her work.
We'll get a tent - a bigger one this time.
"When I was a child, I spake as a child.
I understood as a child."
"When I became a man,
I put away childish things."
St Paul, First Corinthians, : .
So long, Bill.