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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  21 November 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 30,671 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 211 user | 91 critic | 23 from Metacritic.com

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



(book), (screenplay)
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


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 »





Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Medianoche en el jardín del bien y del mal  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


£125,235 (UK) (17 April 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Lady Chablis, the transsexual from Savannah featured in John Berendt's book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", plays herself in the movie adaptation of the book. See more »


When John walks into Sonny's office for the first time, he does not have his sunglasses on. When the shot changes, he is wearing his sunglasses again and takes them off. See more »


[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 »


References Lassie (1954) See more »


Written by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Brad Mehldau
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
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User Reviews

Spacey rocks. Think of it as an art-house film.
24 October 2000 | by (Houston) – See all my reviews

I haven't read the book. Might have hated the film if I had. But I liked it. I did read some reviews before viewing the film, and I was prepared to dislike it. A lot of the criticism has some validity. The movie isn't really a linear type of murder mystery. It's partly that and partly a quirky travelogue of Savannah. The Lady Chablis character gets way too much screen time, apparently because Eastwood thinks that it will entertain us. It does, but only to a point. However, this is a different sort of movie, so I understand why Eastwood includes so much of Chablis, and the voodoo woman, and the fly guy. Also, John Cusack plays it with the same dead-fish expressionlessness that he brings to most of his roles. This isn't really bad, it's just that he's always the same.

I had never seen one of Kevin Spacey's films before, and I am impressed at how he really nailed the role. I thought his performance made this film.

A word or two about the accents. Most non-Southern actors really murder Southern accents. I'm from Texas, not the Georgia coast, but I thought Spacey hit the accent just right all the way through. It was always there, but was never the focus. (Streepian in its apparent effortlessness) Jack Thompson did his accent very well, also, particularly since I understand that he's an Aussie. Some other cast members didn't do well with the Southern accent, like Alison Eastwood. She overdid it. It seemed strained. And oh, yeah, Cusack sounds like an accentless Californian rather than a New Yorker.

Overall, I guess I've written a lot more criticism than praise, but that wasn't my intent. This was a good movie. Think of it more as an art-house film rather than a mass-market picture, and you might have more realistic expectations.

36 of 54 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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