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 <email@example.com>
It is repeated several times in the movie that Lady Chablis' birth name was "Frank." However, although she plays herself in the movie, her real birth name was Benjamin Edward Knox, not Frank. See more »
The end of the first day of the trial, the judge tells the jury to go home and not to talk to anybody and come in the next morning and go to the jury room. As Sonny and John leave the courthouse, Sonny explains that he is going away for the weekend, John is shocked that he is going with the trial starting in three days. See more »
Quit eye balling me, Flavius. I knew you when you was a two bit hustler on Bull Street.
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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 »
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 »
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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