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Mother Night (1996)

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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
Vlasta Vrana ...
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 <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

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:



| |

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 scene where Nick Nolte points a Luger pistol towards his mouth thinking about suicide, the toggle on top of the pistol was up and not flat. The pistol would not have fired this way. The toggle would have to be down or flat. 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 »


Composed by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe
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

Sometimes oversentimental, but overall very good
25 May 2003 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

I haven't yet read the Kurt Vonnegut book this was adapted from, but I am familiar with some of his other work and was interested to see how it would be translated to the screen. Overall, I think this is a very successful adaptation of one of Vonnegut's novels. It concerns the story of an American living in Germany who is recruited as a spy for the US. His job is to ingratiate himself with high ranked Nazi's and send secret messages to the American's via his weekly radio show. But when the war ends he is denounced as a war criminal but escapes to New York, where various odd plot twists await.

If Mother Night has a problem it's that it tends to get a little too sentimental at times. But for most of the film the schmaltz is kept to a minimum and the very strange plot is carried through with skill and aplomb. And there are some fabulous moments of black comedy involving three right wing Christian fundamentalists and a very highly ranked Nazi in a prison cell. Very much recommended.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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