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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

For the Christmas party scene at Mercer house, they actually invited a large number of people who had previously been at Jim Williams' parties, including several members of his family. These extras praised the movie party because, not only was the atmosphere correct, but Kevin Spacey perfectly played Jim and how he meandered through his parties. See more »

Goofs

John Kelso's drink at the women's bridge club. 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 »


Soundtracks

Skylark
Written by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael
Performed by k.d. lang
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
See more »

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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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