Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster)
Itinerant salesman Elmer Gantry—smooth-talking, hard-drinking, coarse and profane—peddles shoeshine in Prohibition America. Opportunity comes knocking when he wanders into a traveling roadshow of evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer. He cons his way into the tent ministry and proves to be a gifted, if less than exemplary, preacher. (He later beds the virtuous Sister Sharon, played by Jean Simmons, as his lover—“you smell like a real man” she tells him.) Lancaster won a well-deserved Oscar for his work: his Gantry is charismatic, scheming, and, by the end of the movie’s hard-crash last act, something much closer to a real man.