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'night, Mother (1986)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  29 January 1987 (Australia)
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What would you do if someone you loved sat down with you one night and calmly told you that they were going to end their life before morning? This is Thelma Cates' dilemma. Her daughter, ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Jessie Cates
Thelma Cates
Ed Berke ...
Dawson Cates
Carol Robbins ...
Loretta Cates
Jennifer Roosendahl ...
Melodie Cates
Michael Kenworthy ...
Kenny Cates
Sari Walker ...
Agnes Fletcher
Claire Malis ...
Operator (voice)


What would you do if someone you loved sat down with you one night and calmly told you that they were going to end their life before morning? This is Thelma Cates' dilemma. Her daughter, Jessie, has had it. A middle-aged epileptic unable to hold a job or drive with a failed marriage and a drug-addicted runaway son on the wrong side of the law, Jessie can find no reason to go on living. Adapted from the play by Marsha Norman, "'night, Mother" is the story of a parent's worst nightmare. How can Thelma convince her daughter that life is worth living if she can't feel her pain? How can she end her daughter's embrace of death before morning? Written by Mark Fleetwood <>/Reid Taylor

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It happened in 1983. It was a rare and remarkable theatrical experience. Controversial. Provocative. And shocking. Now, two Academy Award-winning actresses make the Pulitzer Prize-winning play the motion picture event of the year.




PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 January 1987 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Boa Noite Mãe  »

Box Office


$442,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sissy Spacek caught the play on Broadway and told her agent she'd like to star in it. See more »


Thelma: But you are my child!
Jessie: I'm what became of your child. I found an old baby picture of me... and it was somebody else - not me. It was somebody pink and fat. Who never heard of sick or lonely. Somebody who cried and got fed. And reached up and got held. Slept whenever she wanted to just by closing her eyes. Somebody who mainly just laid there and laughed at the colors waving over, round her head. And chewed on a polka-dot whale. And woke up knowing some new trick nearly every day. Rolled over and ...
See more »


Referenced in CSI: NY: Night, Mother (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

This movie was captivating
10 June 2003 | by (Trenton,Georgia,U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I remember as a young adult when I first discovered this movie. It was on a local cable channel....late one night. I was flipping channels and came across it. Immediately I was taken aback by the content of the feature. I continued watching. It is a most amazing feature indeed....I have a problem myself with severe depression and have on several occassions....considered suicide myself. But, this movie so pinpoints what the loved ones left behind go through....the sorrow and misery they must suffer...that since anytime the thought crosses my mind...I think of this wonderful masterpiece of a movie and it helps me through those few moments of unclear thought. The odd thing about the it is like you are watching a televised play...rather than a regular movie....this is one of the things I liked most about it. Bancroft was wonderful in her role and Spacek did well enough as well. I give it 8 out of 10.....only because I felt it eventually became to "drawn out".....and should have concluded a bit before it did...But, all in all the a whole is quite a marvel to behold!!!!!

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