Mother Night (1996)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  1 November 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,145 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 29 critic

An American spy behind the lines during WWII serves as a Nazi propagandist, a role he cannot escape in his future life as he can never reveal his real role in the war.



(novel) (as Kurt Vonnegut) , (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Reverend Dr. Lionel Jones
Anna Berger ...
Epstein's Mother
Dr. Abraham Epstein
Norman Rodway ...
Werner Noth
Robert Sterling Wilson
Father Patrick Keeley
August Krapptauer
Anthony J. Robinow ...
Prison Warden
Michael McGill ...
Prison Official
Shimon Aviel ...
Guard Bernard Liebman


Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American expatriate playwright, Nazi radio propagandist, and Allied spy, writes his memoirs during his pre-trial confinement in 1961 Haifa and learns that people are what they pretend to be. Written by Erik Gregersen <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

american | spy | germany | nazi | neo nazi | See All (189) »


Be careful what you pretend to be. See more »


Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

1 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Confessione finale  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$48,661 (USA) (1 November 1996)


$392,362 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The character Howard W. Campbell Jr. is used by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in the novel Slaughterhouse Five, and makes an appearance in the movie of the same name, although in reference to a part of Campbell's life not included in the film version of Mother Night. See more »


[first lines]
Prison Warden: Do you prefer German or English?
Howard W. Campbell Jr.: English.
Prison Warden: You are to write down your memoirs for the Haifa Institute For The Documentation of War Criminals. You have three weeks to complete your memoirs before your trial begins. Do you have any questions?
Howard W. Campbell Jr.: No, this is great. Thanks for everything.
See more »


Follows Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) See more »


Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Composed by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Bournemouth Sinfonetta, Richard Studt, director
Courtesy of EMI Classics
Under license from EMI Capitol Music Special Markets
Used by arrangement with European America Music Dist. Corp., Agent for Universal Edition Vienna,
publisher and copyright holder
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User Reviews

The sadness and humor of Vonnegut translates to film? Amazing.
13 March 1999 | by (Eastern USA) – See all my reviews

I haven't read this book, but all through the movie I was awestruck with only one thought in my head: This is so Vonnegut. I have never seen an author, all of the intelligence and life behind the workings of a novel, translated so well to film. This movie had the same complexities found in Vonnegut's novels: the jokes were often meaningful and symbolic, and the dramatic events and symbols were often also jokes.

Campbell was also a very Vonnegut character, portrayed perfectly by Nick Nolte. He had all of the earmarks of a Vonnegut "hero": lack of concern for political boundaries, ironic dark humor giving way to dumb inactivity in response to stress, and an unwillingness to push his version of reality on those around him.

Overall, I was constantly surprised and impressed as I watched this movie. It was the same feeling I had reading "Cat's Cradle," my first Vonnegut novel, as if the most perfectly oddball thing that could happen, he thought of THAT, and he made it real and important. Yes, he has nothing but army surplus "White Christmas" albums. So it goes!

17 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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