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Cafe Inquiry's Skeptic SINema Series -- Elmer Gantry

  • Nov 27, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • CFI-LA

Cafe Inquiry's Skeptic SINema Series presents

Elmer Gantry

Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)

     Join us for popcorn and a FREE MOVIE in the Steve Allen Theater! For the past year, Cafe Inquiry has been your host for our year-long Skeptical SINema film series with a secular, skeptical, or topical bent, followed by discussion. We end the series this month.

     For November, the Center celebrates the 100th birthday of the late Burt Lancaster by showing the classic Elmer Gantry, which won three Oscars in 1961, including one for Burt as Best Actor. To help honor Burt’s career in the movies, his daughter, Susan Lancaster, will talk before the film showing about her father and his appreciation of naturalistic explanations and the pursuit of wisdom. Susan is a Friend of the Center and involved with the Center’s Secular Organizations for Sobriety.

     Following the movie, local film historian and journalist Ed Rampell will briefly talk about the history of Elmer Gantry and lead a Q&A discussion. Ed is the co-author of the new The Hawaii Movie and Television Book, which includes information on Burt Lancaster and From Here to Eternity. See: .

     Based on the 1927 satirical novel by Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry is the story of a fast-talking, hard-drinking traveling salesman who always has a risqué story and a hip flask to entertain cronies and customers alike. He is intrigued with Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons), a lay preacher whose hellfire and damnation revivalism has attracted quite a following. Gantry uses his own quick wit and knowledge of the bible to become an indispensable part of Sister Sharon's road show but soon finds that his past catches up with him in the form of Lulu Bains (Shirley Jones), now a prostitute. While Gantry seeks and eventually gets forgiveness from Sharon, tragedy strikes when she finally manages to get out of her revivalist tent and opens a permanent church.

     Lewis based Elmer Gantry on various Kansas City preachers he studied, and Falconer on elements of the L.A.-based evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson.

Running time: 2 hours, 26 minutes (Note: Due to the length of the film, there will be a 5-minute intermission.)

Intro, film screening: 7:30 - 10:20pm
Discussion: 10:20 - ~11:00pm


Cafe Inquiry is our monthly casual get-together where you can have a coffee and chat with other people on various topics of science and religion. A guest speaker opens the discussion with a brief intro to the subject and then the floor is open in the theater lobby. On film nights, the theater will be used. All are welcome!


Free admission • Plenty of parking • Bookstore open
Donations to help keep this program running are much appreciated.

Held in the Steve Allen Theater & lobby at CFI-L.A.

(No Host Event -- CFI events and lectures are posted here just to let you know they are happening -- but you definitely may see other Meetup members there, so check the RSVP list before you come if you want to keep an eye out for familiar faces!)


Join or login to comment.

  • Gary H

    Wonderful film shows the complexity of genuine religious passion, showmanship and cynicism and an intense portrayal of a complicated human beings. Worth every minute of detail and story line. Great script!
    And it was a thoughtful audience to see it with. Thanks to all for satisfying evening with fellow skeptics and humanists.
    However, I would like to have spent more time on the content and themes of the movie itself.

    - Gary

    November 28, 2013

  • Gary B.

    Film was good, but post-commentary was long, rambling, and mostly not related to the film or its content. More focus is needed for commentary and it should be shorter.

    1 · November 28, 2013

    • guynemer

      Amen! Amen! Amen!

      November 28, 2013

  • Gary H

    Another complex portrayal of a gifted human being who treasures his dignity. Played by Burt Lancaster. - Gary Birdman of Alcatraz Official Trailer #1 - Burt Lancaster Movie (1962)

    Birdman of Alcatraz Official Trailer #1 - Burt Lancaster Movie (1962) HD

    November 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've seen the movie and driving to CFI at night with all the traffic makes my car overheat.

    November 22, 2013

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