Tag Archives: Anthony Quinn

Film Review: Elmer Gantry (1960)

A mounteback named Elmer Gantry is a traveling salesman who has a magnetic personality and looks for an opportunity to make money by sweet talks, and by permeating the words of the Bible in his passionate speeches. One day, he finds a purpose in life when he spectates an evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer and joins her organization.

Elmer Gantry is an American film produced in 1960 and was adapted from Sinclair Lewis‘s famous novel with the same title. By the time, the novel was published and released, the book received uproar and was widely criticized for writing out some bold details about the religious business and revivalism that happened in the United States a century ago. It was a satirical novel that gave the readers some idea of manipulating the staunch loyalist members of the evangelistic church and raising the money for the business.

The same case is with the film that sparks a lot of attention in the eyebrow-raising dialogues; especially when Elmer and Sister meet the other church leaders. The film takes quite a liberty to expose the concept of Revivalism. The way the organization is depicted functioning and the church leaders are portrayed concerning the religious affairs to cash their personal gains ridicules the traditional beliefs and practices of organized Christianity. Director Richard Brooks dared to touch the subject but the productional aesthetics are so sharp that the portrayal of selling religion in America is on the razor edge for the audience. Gantry and Sister Sharon are the messiahs of this cult for the White Americans. Observe a short church scene at the start where the African-Americans sang a hymn, their method distinguishes and Elmer, despite all the religious dedication to singing along with them, chooses to move on and look for a better market.

Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry is a blessing to the eyes of the audience. A role of a lifetime, a performance that occurs rarely in a generation. I felt that Burt and Elmer were to admire each other’s work and someone had a mission to unite them on a platform. From the beginning until the end, Burt mesmerized me and surely most of the viewers with his incredible performance. His pitch, his sermon, his body language, everything was just incredible. A lively and charming characterization of Gantry was made possible by Burt and I hardly believe anyone from that era would have nailed this role. I think of Gregory Peck but he would have looked too rich for Gantry. I think Anthony Quinn or Kirk Douglas would have pulled a performance if Burt was not given this role. Burt’s performance meets variations with time. When Gantry meets criticism after being caught in the scandal, he is shamed in the hall by limited angry spectators. They throw eggs and vegetables on him and he is mute and lost allowing them to throw their rage on him. What a magnificent shot that was when the trumpeter plays on his face and back, as he walks away in shame and people keep throwing the mess on him.

Elmer Gantry was not only enviable due to Burt’s phenomenal performance but also due to the superb assistance of the supporting performances of Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon and Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains.

If this film is remade, I would want Paul Thomas Anderson to direct with any of Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac being considered to play Elmer Gantry, Rooney Mara as Sister Sharon (plus she resembles Jean Simmons a lot), and Anya Taylor-Joy as Lulu.

The film is the winner of three Academy Awards that includes a deserving Oscar for Burt as the Best Actor. I think Elmer Gantry is one of the earliest pinnacles of portraying the deception of being some false messiah or a prophet. The quality of depicting hypocrisy, the corrupted hearts of showrunners, people being foolish, and some being gold-diggers is very well dramatized. Elmer Gantry is quite a cinematic example of compromising faith by applying materialism in the obscure art of selling religion.

Ratings: 8.4/10










Movie Review: Zorba the Greek (1964)


Life | Lust | Mine | Crete | Dance | Widow | Sirtaki | Zorba

Greek island of Crete and two gentlemen from different walks meet one rainy day. One is Basil (Alan Bates), a half-British half-Greek writer who has arrived all the way to this island from Britain to look after his father’s property and reopen lignite mine. The other guy is Zorba (Anthony Quinn), a very enthusiastic Greek Santouri musician who offer Basil to help him in his mine mission.

Basil and Zorba lives in a hotel run by French widow and very romantic crazy lady, Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova). Zorba is a lively romantic character as he first persuades Basil to make love with her but rejects, then Zorba takes the opportunity.

Zorba is the central character who makes Basil believe that his dream will come true, he will achieve what he want. Despite a failed persuasion of making love with aged Madame Hortense, he offer another help to Basil to make chance with another widow (Irene Papas) but young and attractive woman which somehow becomes successful.

The widow (whose name never come to notice in the whole movie) has a tortured life living alone but surrounded by many men in the Crete village attempting to win her.

Like every soulful human who wish to stay happy and graceful with life, Zorba also has his tragic fate on his back. Zorba is no different, he also has a dark past who fought for his country against the Turks and Bulgarians. As he tells Basil that he killed people, burnt villages and raped women. But he put all this in his tragic past to restore peace in his life. He is married but dropped his family behind.

Basil and Zorba makes a fantastic on-screen friendship and ‘TRUST’ remains the only element hanging around in the whole 142-minute drama as they are perfect strangers to each other. With such a storyline, things could have concluded in the easiest way but last half an hour made a dramatic bravura to end the movie in an unreachable journey. I may say the conclusion was the happiest sad-ending or the saddest happy-ending to watch.


Zorba the Greek is one of the finest movies produced in the sixties, based on Nikos Kazantzakis‘ 1946-novel with the same title. The core character Zorba is based on real life character George Zorbas (1867-1943) who was a miner, later a monk. George Zorbas did meet tragedy when his wife died and he fought war. Later he befriend with the writer.

The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and winning three of them specially Lila Kedrova for Best Supporting Actress for Madame Hortense. Ironically Anthony Quinn nominated for Zorba lost Best Actor award to Rex Harrison for My Fair Lady despite on of his career’s best performance.

Zorba the Greek is a culture-influencing movie because of that remarkable dance performed by Anthony Quinn. Those steps became known as ‘Zorba Dance’, and then ‘Sirtaki‘ which become part of Greek culture. Music score by Mikis Theodorakis is inspiring which brings more charm in the movie.

This movie can be easily watched by a specific group of sensible and cinematic history digging moviegoers who will take this movie to different height. We all know the acting institution Anthony Quinn is and this Zorba role will make you think twice. A magical movie…

Ratings: 8.7/10

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