6.6/10
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

A visiting city reporter's assignment suddenly revolves around the murder trial of a local millionaire, whom he befriends.

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Writers:

(book), (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,658 ( 436)

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ON DISC
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chablis Deveau (as The Lady Chablis)
Dorothy Loudon ...
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Betty Harty
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Luther Driggers
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Henry Skerridge
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Detective Boone
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Finley Largent
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Storyline

This panoramic tale of Savannah's eccentricities focuses on a murder and the subsequent trial of Jim Williams: self made man, art collector, antiques dealer, bon vivant and semi-closeted homosexual. John Kelso a magazine reporter finds himself in Savannah amid the beautiful architecture and odd doings to write a feature on one of William's famous Christmas parties. He is intrigued by Williams from the start, but his curiosity is piqued when he meets Jim's violent, young and sexy lover, Billy. Later that night, Billy is dead, and Kelso stays on to cover the murder trial. Along the way he encounters the irrepressible Lady Chablis, a drag queen commedienne, Sonny Seiler, lawyer to Williams, whose famous dog UGA is the official mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs, an odd man who keeps flies attached to mini leashes on his lapels and threatens daily to poison the water supply, the Married Ladies Card Club, and Minerva, a spiritualist. Between being Jim's buddy, cuddling up to a torch singer, ... Written by Teresa B. O'Donnell <sun.moon.stars@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to Savannah, Georgia. A City Of Hot Nights And Cold Blooded Murder.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Medianoche en el jardín del bien y del mal  »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,233,658 (USA) (21 November 1997)

Gross:

$25,078,937 (USA) (13 February 1998)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The judge is played by Sonny Seiler, the attorney for Jim Williams during the trials. See more »

Goofs

The end of the first day of the trial, the judge tells the jury to go home and not to talk to anybody and come in the next morning and go to the jury room. As Sonny and John leave the courthouse, Sonny explains that he is going away for the weekend, John is shocked that he is going with the trial starting in three days. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Minerva: Quit eye balling me, Flavius. I knew you when you was a two bit hustler on Bull Street.
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Crazy Credits

Closing disclaimer: This film is based upon John Berendt's book "MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL". Dialogue and certain events and characters contained in the film were created for the purposes of dramatization. See more »


Soundtracks

Tangerine
Written by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger
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User Reviews

 
Good Lord, I can't take my eyes off Kevin Spacey
13 April 2005 | by (Lille, France) – See all my reviews

Like every film Clint Eastwood makes, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is fascinated by the mystery of masculinity: what it means to be a man, and what you have to do to be the kind of man you think you need to be -- whether that's a father, a member of a cultural group, or the ideal man in a certain social situation. Two highly-acclaimed recent Eastwood films -- "Mystic River" and "Million-Dollar Baby" -- mildly disappointed me by sinking into oversimplification and predictability. Possibly Eastwood's directing hand is more interesting when less "self-assured," because 1997's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" follows these questions down less well-defined, and thus less predictable, paths. Maintaining a scrupulously neutral eye, the film recounts a complex tale of murder, involving characters who are recognizable types on the surface but carry deep difference underneath. It unfurls a slow, rich, and troubling narrative which answers the mysteries of its crime premise even as it opens much more difficult questions about the very things that murder stories are supposed to make simple: innocence, guilt, motivations, affection, and its characters' so-called morality.

Thanks in large part to a literally mesmerizing performance by Kevin Spacey (I'm riveted every time he appears on screen) and a well- balanced turn by John Cusack as the sympathetic investigating reporter, who charms us even as he maintains a total and focused receptivity to new information and strange events, the movie fills its two and a half hours with a slow-paced and carefully balanced story that brings us into the suffocating green world of Southern Gothic, with its all its mannered refinements, thick silences and passionate secrets. There's something in this film that would have pleased Tennessee Williams or Truman Capote, those cool-eyed investigators of the closeted South. John Berendt's nuanced book, Spacey's restrained, smoldering performance and Eastwood's lucidly hands-off direction have created a strange, slow gem of a film. It's not a gem appreciated by everyone, but two years before Spacey's turn in "American Beauty" struck a chord that resonated with the wider public, "Midnight in the Garden" asks similar questions in a context that is, at the same time, more precise, more exotic, and equally American.


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