Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil is based upon events in Savannah from the 1980S, that focused on the four murder trials of Jim Williams, all four were based on one shooting from Christmas 1981.
John Berendt visited Savannah in 1982 and meet Williams in prison after his first conviction. The story revolves around the murder of Danny Hansford, a local hustler that had intimate relations with Jim Williams, a respected art dealer. He bought Mercer House in 1969 and completely restored it. The murder took place in Mercer House.
Mercer House construction began in 1860 by Johnny Mercer's grandfather, Hugh Mercer. Hugh Mercer was an army officer that resigned his commission in 1861 when Georgia seceded and he later joined the Confederate army.
The book emphasizes the different characters of Savannah, while Berendt in trying to piece together what really happened between Williams and Hansford. The book covers almost nine years of the William's trials.
In 1997, Clint Eastwood selected the project to be filmed. Two reasons I believe; the book spent over 200 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List and as a tribute to the great song writer Johnny Mercer. Mercer's music would be showcased in the film's soundtrack.
One of my graduate professors, Doctor John Duncan, from present day Armstrong Strong Atlantic State University was used as one of the film's technical advisers. He taught the history of Savannah when I was in his class in 1995.
The screenplay took on a different view from the book. Many of the outrageous characters were minimized, while the Berendt character was renamed John Kelso for the film. Other liberties were taken to help move the story along, but the central character of the film came across as Savannah.
Many fans of the book were disappointed because of this, but today people flock down to Savannah to see where these events occurred.
The opening scenes show us flying over the marsh to Bonaventure Cemetery, focusing on the 'Bird Girl' and Johnny Mercer's grave. The cemetery is located in nearby Thunderbolt.
The park scenes, are of Forsyth Park, where Kelso meets Williams' attorney, Sonny Seiler and it ends the film when Kelso, Lady Chablis and Mandy are satisfied that justice has been served. Seiler owns UGA, mascot of the University of Georgia.
Kelso is greeted at 2 East Taylor Street, the Hugh Comer House, it was built in 1880 and hosted Jefferson Davis in 1886.
Kelso first meets Williams and Seiler at the Armstrong House, the corner of Bull and West Gaston Streets.
Clary's Cafe is located at 404 Abercorn Street, this is where Kelso starts to meet the characters of Savannah, they still serve breakfast and lunch.
Club One is located in City Market on Jefferson Street, famous for it's Drag Queen shows and a visit from Lady Chablis once a month. If you wish to be embarrassed, check your calender.
The Married Ladies Card Club scenes were filmed at 126 East Gaston Street.
Churchill's Pub, where Kelso listens to Mandy sing, burned a few years back and has since relocated to West Bay Street. A new pub, Issac's, occupies the current space.
The Court House scenes were filmed at the Federal Court House on Wright Square.
Kelso stayed at 200 West Jones Street while interviewing the characters for his book.
I hope this helps people remember the scenes and the back drop of events that helped make Savannah a huge destination for travelers.