Elmer Gantry is an unusual choice! I like it!
I'm glad, WS!
I've always thought it was an underrated film. The characterizations are often painted with broad strokes by critics, when I believe they're complex and even subtle at times.
As portrayed in the movie, do we ever really know exactly who Elmer or Sharon are? Exactly what motivates them? Or the true nature of sin and the mechanism of salvation?
And what a perfect vehicle for Lancaster's energy. He plays a similar character in another great movie about human nature--The Rainmaker.
I love every pick on your list, luvy. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is a special favorite.
I would include Raging Bull.Taxi Driver,Rainman,When Harry Met Sally and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.
From the 30's (classic era of early talkies)
The Thin Man
It Happened One Night
Gone With the Wind