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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After Sonny has told John the story about the Judge's son being murdered, he drives away and the cameraman is reflected in the window of the car. See more »
Quit eye balling me, Flavius. I knew you when you was a two bit hustler on Bull Street.
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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 »
A clever but flawed example of the black art of adapting a very literary work to film. The plot has been streamlined (one trial instead of four), some of the characters given expanded roles, others dropped out, a fictitious affair inserted. However the essentially journalistic narrative remains, and the theme remains outsider tries to understand an inward-looking society bent on preserving their environment and way of life and resisting outside influence. Healthy decadence, if there is such a thing.
The Jim Williams case is really just a framework for author Berendt's enquiry into what makes Savannah tick, and the film tends to ignore that, concentrating on the trial(s) and Jim's relationship with the author figure, who is given a much bigger role than in the book. Hence some of the color bits, Minerva the voodoo lady, Joe the feckless party giver, even the Lady Chablis (played by herself) seemed kind of irrelevant.
Some nice acting was evident. Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams in a silver waistcoat and bushy moustache looked a bit like a riverboat gambler, but he held our attention, if not our sympathy. Jack Thompson as his lawyer showed his courtroom manner has come a long way since 'Breaker Morant' and almost had me convinced he really was a good ole boy from the American South instead of a Melbourne bred actor. The bulldog was good too.
Savannah is truly a cute town and deserves a visit; the film does not really do it justice. It's done the tourist industry there some good though. On a recent visit your correspondent was unable to get into Clary's, a fairly ordinary diner made famous by the book and the film, for lunch (they don't do dinner) due to the busloads of tourists that had descended on it. Never mind, there's better food elsewhere - try the deli on Drayton Parker's, I think.
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