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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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Film debut of Michael Rosenbaum. See more »

Goofs

When John steps off the tour bus at Forsyth Park, he walks south through the park in the opposite direction of Mercer House, where he is shown in the next scene. 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

References La Bamba (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)
Written by Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom
Performed by Rosemary Clooney
Courtesy of Concord Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why This is Not a Bad Film
5 October 2003 | by B24See all my reviews

Comparing the movie script to the original book is in this case a futile exercise. The two are only superficially related. If Eastwood had made the mistake of trying to film the original account instead of a cinematic version of it, it would indeed have come across as a sort of gay Gone With the Wind on mescaline, and he would have been crucified by critics and viewers alike as a David Lynch wannabe.

As it is, he made a commercially viable replica of the original story into a passably successful movie. But there are flaws. For one thing, as many comments here assert, the thing is just too long. Internal musings by the author -- the common bond that made the novel a smashing success -- are replaced by visual and audible sensations, some of which are too obviously gratuitous to sustain a complicated plot. Characters have been altered, sanitized, simplified, or in some cases magnified to make everything fit proportionally into a screen presentation.

Nevertheless, I think all the viewers who really liked this film are justified in praising it. Savannah society is a unique and interesting creature. Whether you have read the book or not, that much is clear. The fact that most of the story is true and some of the original players reprise various parts in the screenplay is a delight. The music of Johnny Mercer fits well. We can even forgive Clint for casting his daughter in a throwaway role, making Jack Thompson of all people into Sonny Seiler, or wasting Jude Law's talent instead of finding a local actor for that smallish part.

I also think Spacey was exactly right for his part, and Cusack never made the mistake of imitating author Berendt.

Still, I recommend the book as a far superior vehicle for this particular story.


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