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)
4,844 ( 401)
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:

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Did You Know?


Most of the characters depicted in the movie were based on real Savannahians, but some details were changed for dramatic effect. Joe Odom was indeed a real person, an ex-lawyer who opened a piano bar with the real-life "Mandy", Nancy Hillis, but Odom and Hillis were never romantically involved, and Odom died of A.I.D.S. in 1991. Likewise, the character of John Kelso is loosely based on John Berendt, the author of the book, but he also never had a relationship with the real-life "Mandy", Berendt is gay. See more »


In bar scene with John and Sonny, the head (foam) on John's beer changes between shots. 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 Jezebel (1938) See more »


Come Rain Or Come Shine
Written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen
Performed by Alison Eastwood
See more »

User Reviews

Read the Book, See the Movie...
4 March 1999 | by lisadoSee all my reviews

Definitely in that order. It increases comprehension. In fact, from reading some of the other reviews here, it may be the only way to enjoy this movie.

A great read; a better-than-I-expected screen adaptation. I had to see it, because I couldn't imagine how such a character-driven work would be handled on film. I will tell you that I was predisposed to think that it would not be handled well, but I was pleasantly surprised.

All in all, this movie manages to do a good job of condensing the book into a non-butt-busting film length, while remaining generally faithful to it. The length and the slowness of the movie are really the only ways to convey the meanderings of the book. It's part of the way this movie creates the slow Southern atmosphere that is such an integral part of the story. Savannah is a character in the book, and the only unifying force other than the author. It's easier to convey that in words than pictures, but Eastwood has done a good job of getting the point across here.

The casting is mostly great, particularly the supporting characters. Irma P. Hall's portrayal of Minerva is somehow soothing and slightly menacing, just as the woman seems in the book. I didn't know how the casting of the actual Chablis would affect the film, but she really delivers the goods without seeming like stunt casting.

I was irritated by what I felt were John's and Chablis' too-active roles in the court case, but I suppose I can understand the reasoning behind it. I don't have to like it, but I understand it. Just as irritating, and entirely disposable, was the romantic subplot. These two elements seemed out of the role of observer that Berendt makes for himself the book. Also, the Mandy character is sapped by taking a big, beautiful, interesting woman and making her a generic cute chick. Alison Eastwood does what she can with this bland creation, but I have a feeling that the movie character never would have been featured the book.

No, it's not the book, but no movie ever could be. A slavish adaptation would have been a truly boring film, not to mention way longer than this effort. (Can you say, "Just rent the AudioBook?") And no, it's not a twisting, turning thrill-ride, because the book isn't exactly jam-packed with plot. It is, however, a decent movie if viewed on its own terms and for its own merits. And after you've read the book.

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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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