Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 149 minutes Other Extras Menu Animation
Cast & Crew Biographies
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (87:17)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Clint Eastwood

Warner Brothers
Starring Kevin Spacey
John Cusack
Case Snapper
RRP $29.95 Music Lennie Niehaus

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes

Plot Synopsis

    When I watched this movie today, it was the first time that I had seen it. I had read a number of reviews that described this movie as slow and boring compared with the book. With Clint Eastwood at its helm as director, this wouldn't have surprised me at all - this seems to be his style. I was bored senseless by The Bridges Of Madison County, which he also directed. I was also very concerned about the 149 minute running time of this movie suggesting that it would be very slow-moving.

    I really liked this movie. Contrary to expectations, I was not bored for a moment. Admittedly, it does take around 30 minutes to really get going, but after this I was fascinated. Remember, folks, that this comes from someone who hated L.A. Confidential, and loved Hush, so your opinion may vary to mine.

    Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil is a story set in the deep south of America, in Savannah. Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) is a flamboyant eccentric who throws legendary parties. It is de rigeur for the local set to attend. He is also homosexual, but since he doesn't flaunt this, it is conveniently ignored amongst polite Savannah society. At least, it is ignored whilst Jim is in.

    John Kelso (John Cusack) is a freelance reporter who has been sent to cover one of Jim's parties for a magazine, which he does, but he is so fascinated by the oddball cast of characters that he meets that he stays on, figuring that there must be a book to be written featuring all of these colourful characters.

    Jim shoots his lover, Billy Hanson (Jude Law) in somewhat mysterious circumstances, claiming that he did it in self-defense. John figures that the best place to be is on the inside of Jim's team, which includes Jim's very protective lawyer Sonny Seiler (Jack Thompson) and a voodoo practitioner named Minerva (Irma P. Hall). Incidentally, either Jack Thompson put on weight after his suit fitting or he was supposed to look like his suits were a size too small, I wasn't sure which.

    We then watch the progress of Jim's murder trial, meeting a serious of very eccentric people along the way, the most outrageous of which is Chablis Deveau, played by herself.

    This movie is filled with eccentric and outrageous people, and this is what I enjoyed most about the movie. There is also some excellent cinematography which helps the story along as well.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is virtually perfect.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear. Shadow detail was excellent. No low level noise was apparent.

    The colours were beautifully rendered with deeply saturated greens and browns. This was a particularly excellent aspect of this transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some barely perceptible aliasing and some very slight image wobble here and there, but unlike other recent transfers, the artefacts here are kept well under control. Film artefacts were extremely rare, which is consistent with the recent vintage of this transfer.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring between Chapters 23 and 24, at 87:17. This is quite a disruptive layer change, occurring during cross-examination of one of the witnesses at the trial.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD, English, French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was initially quite hard to understand, with ambience tending to drown out the dialogue to a certain extent. This settled somewhat later on in the movie. This problem was compounded by the Southern accents of the characters, meaning that significant amounts of dialogue were missed early on.

    There were a few ADR issues with this disc, with some of the ADR dialogue marginally out of sync, but this was an infrequent occurrence. Dialogue mostly sounded very natural and in sync.

    The music by Lennie Niehaus appropriately accompanied the on-screen action, though most of this soundtrack is comprised of cover versions of Johnny Mercer standards.

     The surround channels were moderately used for music and for ambience, creating a reasonably enveloping soundtrack, though this was not particularly an enveloping movie, being predominately character and dialogue based.

    The .1 channel was rarely used, if at all. Once again, there simply was no low frequency information in this soundtrack to be sent to this channel because of the nature of the movie.


    There are only very limited extras on this disc. Some of the extras present on the Region 1 version of this disc have been omitted from this release, namely, the Soundtrack Promo, the Theatrical Trailer and a featurette entitled "The Real People In The Garden" which is apparently along the style of the L.A. Confidential city tour. I am guessing that there was no room on the disc for these extras, but Warner Home Video Australia are yet to reply to my query on this topic. If I were to editorialize on this topic, I would say that I would rather have a superlative video transfer like this movie than for the transfer to be compromised to fit all of the extras onto the disc.


    The main menu has a moving 16:9 image and music behind it, in Dolby Digital 2.0, though it sounds mono. It makes a welcome change from the otherwise static menus we are used to.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are extensive and worth reading

Production Notes

    These are also very extensive and interesting to read.


    Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil was a very pleasant surprise. I very much enjoyed it. Recommended.

    The video quality is essentially perfect.

    The audio quality is acceptable, though there is some difficulty with the dialogue early on, and some bad ADR work here and there.

    The extras present are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
19th March 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer