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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

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

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writers:

John Berendt (book), John Lee Hancock (screenplay)
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4,817 ( 2,049)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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 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
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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:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Medianoche en el jardín del bien y del mal See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,233,658, 23 November 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$25,078,937, 15 February 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Emma Kelly: the Lady of 6000 Songs, as herself. See more »

Goofs

As Minerva looks up from her Forsyth Park bench to see the plane coming in for a landing, it is headed straight toward downtown Savannah and the harbor. The airport there is actually located north of the city. 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 »

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 »


Soundtracks

Early Autumn
Written by Ralph Burns and Woody Herman
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User Reviews

 
A Garden of Diverse Foliage, Weeds and Blooms
5 August 2004 | by pwoods1See all my reviews

Sometimes, the measure of a good garden is the diversity of opinions it attracts: looking back over other writers' comments, one is struck by just how good this one must be. Some see weeds and disarray - a classic hothouse garden gone to seed - yet others perceive an Autumnal garden: garish in its primary colours of Fall yet splendid in its descent into decay. A splash of brilliance before the inevitable passage into death of all living things.

Luckily, I read Berendt's book before seeing the film, and realise just how hard Hancock must have worked to translate it to the screen. It is also, in my mind, one of Eastwood's best (if not THE best) directorial outings. The casting is superb. Not a 'clunker' among them. As an evocation of the decline of the contemporary South, I would offer that it is nonpareil: lazy, sleazy, desperate at times, yet possessed of a dignity that is long past in the rest-of-the-world. Whilst Savannah is not the Big Easy, as portrayed it has much of its charm, artifice, and implied danger. And there's the rub when becoming engrossed in this garden of smoke and mirrors. It appeals to those of us who can only be outsiders looking in.

The inclusion in the screenplay of Kelsoe's love interest (not present in the book) was, for me, an acceptable complication. It juxtaposed the "Yankee's" at times ingenuous fascination with all around him. His apparent ambivalence toward the sexuality aimed at him by the central characters (Jim and the Lady Chablis are obviously enamoured of him) becomes anchored in his desire to be part of their world but on his terms. Thus the inclusion of a heterosexual relationship which leads to his decision to stay.

I would offer, however, that one of the most telling scenes (at least in exploration of Kelsoe's character) is his obvious pride in the 'overpaint' - given to him by Jim - hanging on his newly-acquired wall as he tells his 'love-interest' that he is 'here to stay' for at least six months as he writes his book. It is not the presented landscape itself which intrigues us: it is the possibility that something more valuable resides beneath. A mystery left unsolved. Just like Savannah, really. An excellent film. Enjoy it for itself.


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