In August 1997, wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent was found dead in the rural town of Carthage, Texas. Not a well liked woman in her community, it was shocking to discover she had been dead for nine months, shot four times in the back, and buried under some frozen foods in the large, rectangular freezer in her garage.
“The truth was that no one really cared about looking for her because no one missed her,” one resident said.
Before her murder, Marjorie had befriended the new assistant funeral director, Bernie Tiede II, during her husband’s funeral services. Bernie, who many found to be “a little light in his loafers,” had a hard time making friends in the small town, but quickly won them all over teaching Sunday school, singing in the church choir, and lending a helping hand whenever possible.
That generous spirit is what the Bernie/Marjorie relationship was built upon. Bernie frequently ran errands for Marjorie and soon managed her finances. After her murder, Bernie continued using her money to give to people in need throughout Carthage. He even donated $100,000 in Mrs. Nugent’s name to build a new Sunday school building at the Methodist church.
Immediately after Marjorie’s body was discovered, Bernie was arrested and charged with the killing. In what many find both surprising, yet expected, the community rallied around Bernie during his trial.
14 years later, this bizarre, twisted and intriguing story comes to the big screen starring Jack Black as Bernie, Oscar® winner Shirley MacLaine as Marjorie Nugent, and Matthew McConaughey as District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, who had the trial moved to another county knowing he would never get a fair chance as prosecuting Bernie in a town where he was so beloved.
Director Richard Linklater (“School of Rock,” “Dazed and Confused”) and the cast walked the red carpet to kick off the Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas in downtown L.A. Known for showcasing the best in independent films, “Bernie” was a great choice as the festival’s opening night film.