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Nightjohn (1996)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama  -  1 June 1996 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 234 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 5 critic

Sarny, a 12-year-old slave girl in the ante-bellum South, faces a relatively hopeless life. Her chief duties at the plantation of Clel Waller are serving at table, spitting tobacco juice on... See full summary »

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Title: Nightjohn (TV Movie 1996)

Nightjohn (TV Movie 1996) on IMDb 6.9/10

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Clel Waller
Gerald Brown ...
Joseph
...
Outlaw
...
Old Man
Deborah Duke ...
Lethe
Shannon Eubanks ...
Fanny Bowen
Bruce Evers ...
Patroller #1
John P. Ford III ...
Arthur Waller
Monica Ford ...
Egypt
Alecia I. Gainey ...
Sarny (age 4)
Bill Gribble ...
Tom - Slave Trader
John Herina ...
Homer Waller
Antwan Isaac ...
Young Man
Allison Jones ...
Sarny
...
John
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Storyline

Sarny, a 12-year-old slave girl in the ante-bellum South, faces a relatively hopeless life. Her chief duties at the plantation of Clel Waller are serving at table, spitting tobacco juice on roses to prevent bugs, and secretly conveying intimate messages between Waller's wife, Callie, and Dr. Chamberlaine. Then Nightjohn arrives. A former runaway slave who bears telltale scars on his back, he takes Sarny under his wing and, in exchange for a pinch of tobacco, secretly begins to teach her to read and write, a crime punishable by death. "Words," he says, "are freedom. Slavery is made of words: laws, deeds and passes." He starts by drawing letters in the dirt and cautions her that no one must know. At her baptism, Sarny steals a Bible that belongs to Waller's son, Jeffrey, and practices reading by lantern-light in the slave quarters. The same Bible serves another purpose when, on a blank page taken from it, Nightjohn forges a pass for Outlaw, a young slave, to use in escaping to freedom ... Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Words Are Freedom

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some scenes of racial oppression and abuse
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Release Date:

1 June 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nightjohn  »

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Goofs

All the women's dresses have zippers in the back of them. The zipper wasn't invented until 1917. See more »

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User Reviews

If you have any affection for the printed word, this is a movie to cherish.
8 May 2000 | by (Colorado) – See all my reviews

A hymn to learning and determination, "Nightjohn" is also a thoughtful and moving film about slavery, perhaps the best I've seen. All the actors are superb, the script is winning, the insight into human relations cuts deep. Charles Burnett is one of our best unknown directors, and the fact that he can turn out a film like "Nightjohn" for Hallmark/Disney should indicate to those in power in Hollywood that more of his work should end up on the big screen. Great stuff!


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