Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Entertainment: +3 1/2
Acceptability: -3

New York writer John Kelso (John Cusack) discovers mint juleps, Southern drawls and eccentricities of the Old South when he is sent to Savannah Georgia. His assignment is to cover wealthy art collector Jim Williams' (Kevin Spacey) annual Christmas party. Captivated by Savannah's unique charm and gracious hospitality, Kelso is shocked when Williams is arrested for murdering his homosexual lover a few hours after the party. Kelso is drawn into the dark world of voodoo as his "fluff" assignment develops into an intense murder investigation. His encounters with a wide range of colorful characters make the story as much a comedy as it is a murder mystery. At one point, the reporter calls his office, declaring "Savannah is Gone With The Wind on mescaline!" One of the jurors at the trial has an affinity for horseflies that swarm around his head wherever he goes, even in restaurants and in the courtroom. MIDNIGHT is an adaptation of the best-seller by John Berendt, which is based on an actual murder trial. Directed by Clint Eastwood, this fascinating story featuring Johnny Mercer's wonderful songs and lush scenery, has the ingredients for a box office success.

A voodoo priestess takes the reporter to a cemetery at midnight where the murder victim is buried. She frequently communes with the deceased, and believes she can influence the spirits to bring about an acquittal. Another bizarre character is transvestite Lady Chablis, who plays herself. Chablis' outrageous behavior provides much sexually suggestive humor, and she wears tight-fitting, revealing clothes and delights in shocking Savannah's elite. While Williams' homosexuality is revealed during the trial, it doesn't seem to shock or repulse the public. Being included on his guest list is much more important than his sexual orientation. Obscenities include 10 s-words and 13 f-words, and there are 11 regular profanities. The actual murder is the film's only violence. Williams is threatened by his lover with a broken glass, and gunshots follow. That scene is played back a few times during the trial, but it is not gratuitous or excessively bloody. Although MIDNIGHT has no sex scenes, its humorous treatment of the transvestite, the credence given to voodoo practices as a central theme, and foul language will cause discerning viewers to choose other options.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Warner Bros., 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

Crude Language: Many (26) times - Mild 14, Moderate 12
Obscene Language: Many (27) times - F-word 13, s-word 10, other 4
Profanity: Many (13) times - Regular 11 (G-d 7, J 2, G1 J-C 1); Exclamatory 2
Violence: Few times - Moderate (shooting with bloody wound repeated few times)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None; Near nudity - few times (transvestite in tight-fitting, revealing dresses)
Homosexual Conduct: Several times (transvestite makes advances to men, makes crude remarks about sexuality, enjoys doctor's examination; homosexual lovers acknowledged but no interaction shown)
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Passionate kiss obscured behind glass, comments by transvestite
Drug Abuse: Several times (alcohol drinking, smoking)
Other: Voodoo practiced; communion with dead
Running Time: 145 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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