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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)
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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Mercer House, the house Jim Williams lived in, was originally built for Hugh Weedon Mercer. Hugh Mercer was the great-grandfather of Johnny Mercer, who co-wrote most of the songs included in the movie's soundtrack. The movie's opening shot, by the way, is of Johnny Mercer's gravestone. See more »

Goofs

When Chablis is at the cotillion she asks a woman at the table to watch her purse. After dancing, getting a drink, and leaving, she never retrieves her purse. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Ruby: Savannah (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Autumn Leaves
(Les Feuilles Mortes)
Music by Joseph Kosma
French lyrics by Jacques Prévert
English lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Paula Cole
Courtesy of Imago Recording Company/Warner Bros. Records
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User Reviews

 
Good Lord, I can't take my eyes off Kevin Spacey
13 April 2005 | by life_on_screenSee 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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