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Travelling salesman Elmer Gantry (Lancaster, in an Oscar-winning performance) is all this and more. So when he stumbles into a revival meeting and discovers that he can hustle money in a tent-show as easily as in a saloon, Gantry converts to evangelism.
Joining forces with Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons), he delivers demon-blasting oratories that bring him fame and fortune. But when an old flame (Shirley Jones) re-appears, Gantry is forced to confront demons of a more worldly order - long-buried secrets that will make his "saintly" life a veritable Hell on Earth!