230 user 67 critic

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

0:31 | Trailer
A visiting city reporter's assignment suddenly revolves around the murder trial of a local millionaire, whom he befriends.


Clint Eastwood


John Berendt (book), John Lee Hancock (screenplay)
4,940 ( 585)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Cusack ... John Kelso
Kevin Spacey ... Jim Williams
Jack Thompson ... Sonny Seiler
Irma P. Hall ... Minerva
Jude Law ... Billy Hanson
Alison Eastwood ... Mandy Nicholls
Paul Hipp ... Joe Odom
Lady Chablis ... Chablis Deveau (as The Lady Chablis)
Dorothy Loudon ... Serena Dawes
Anne Haney ... Margaret Williams
Kim Hunter ... Betty Harty
Geoffrey Lewis ... Luther Driggers
Richard Herd ... Henry Skerridge
Leon Rippy ... Detective Boone
Bob Gunton ... Finley Largent


This panoramic tale of Savannah, Georgia's eccentricities focuses on a murder and the subsequent trial of James Arthur Williams (Kevin Spacey): self made man, art collector, antiques dealer, bon vivant, and semi-closeted homosexual. John Kelso (John Cusack) a magazine reporter, finds himself in Savannah amidst 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 Hanson (Jude Law). Later that night, Billy is dead, and Kelso stays on to cover the murder trial. Along the way, he encounters the irrepressible Chablis Deveau (Lady Chablis), a drag queen commedienne, Sonny Seiler (Jack Thompson), 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 ... 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Lady Chablis, the transgender woman from Savannah featured in the source novel, plays herself. See more »


(at around 2h 09 mins) In the courtroom the lawyer, Sonny, refers to his client as "Tim" not Jim. See more »


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

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 »

Alternate Versions

The UK Region 2 multi-DVD box set titled "CLINT EASTWOOD 35 YEARS, 35 FILMS" (EAN 5051892017114) released on August 16, 2010 makes reference to the inclusion of a Director's Cut. Eastwood has admitted to shooting a "love scene" between Kevin Spacey and Alison Eastwood and then cutting it from this film and although not confirmed it is suspected this is included to make some or all of the Director's Cut. The latter information sourced from http://www.screenit.com/movies/1997/midnight_in_the_garden_of_good_&_evil.html See more »


References Basic Instinct (1992) See more »


Written by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger
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User Reviews

Is the entire town of Savannah insane?
27 July 2010 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

If, like me, you live in a cave, you may not know that this film is adapted from a bestselling non-fiction book and based on a true story. Each character is based on a real life person, and some of these people even play themselves in the film. It's very hard to believe because every single person in this movie is clinically insane.

This movie surprised & impressed the heck out of me. I thought it would be a straightforward thriller, but it's more like a dark comedy with a deep social message. Sort of like "Heathers" meets "To Kill a Mockingbird".

In the tradition of "The Unforgiven", director Clint Eastwood again takes us to a place where what you see ain't always what you get. There are 2 sides to every story, and it's just a momentary line that separates the two (as the title says "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil").

The plot is almost insignificant in light of this. If you watch this film, focus on the dichotomy of outward appearances vs. what's beneath. At times it's about abstract concepts like loyalty which seems solid on the surface, but when tested it flops like a bad soufflé. At other times the theme is quite literal, as with a flamboyantly feminine woman who's hiding "a man's toolbox" under her dress, if ya know what I mean. Everyone in this kooky town has some secret deviation, even though they all coexist in an atmosphere of fine southern charm.

Watch John Cusack's expressions closely, and I guarantee you'll get a few big LOLs. He plays the role of a New York writer who finds himself in the middle of this bizarre world, struggling to get a grasp of what's real. He spends most of the first half with his mouth wide open in disbelief.

The second half is when the plot kicks in, taking us on a murder mystery and its subsequent courtroom drama. Here the film changes to a more serious tone, but the themes remain the same. Don't expect any car chases, shootouts or flashy pyrotechnics. Don't even expect much of a Sherlock Holmesian revelation to the mystery. But if you go into it not knowing what to expect, I think you'll have a great time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | French

Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,233,658, 23 November 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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