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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.

Director:

Keith Gordon

Writers:

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (novel) (as Kurt Vonnegut), Robert B. Weide (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Nolte ... Howard Campbell
Anthony J. Robinow Anthony J. Robinow ... Prison Warden
Michael McGill Michael McGill ... Prison Official
Shimon Aviel Shimon Aviel ... Guard Bernard Liebman
Bill Corday Bill Corday ... Campbell's Father
Bronwen Mantel Bronwen Mantel ... Campbell's Mother
Brawley Nolte ... Young Howard Campbell
Sheryl Lee ... Helga & Resi Noth
John Goodman ... Major Frank Wirtanen
Louis Strauss Louis Strauss ... Old Jewish Man
Zach Grenier ... Joseph Goebbels
Richard Zeman ... Rudolph Hoess
Thomas Hauff ... SS Officer
Jeff Pufah Jeff Pufah ... Young German Soldier
Norman Rodway ... Werner Noth
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Be careful what you pretend to be. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fine Line Features

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Yiddish

Release Date:

1 November 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Confessione finale See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$48,661, 3 November 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$392,362
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Followed by Breakfast of Champions (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Andante Con Variazioni
from "Violin Sonata No. 9 in A, Op. 47"
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven (as Ludwig Von Beethoven)
Courtesy of Chandos Records Ltd. and Koch International L.P.
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User Reviews

 
Wartime Allied undercover operative suffers the consequences of his deception, in the process discovering something about himself and about justice.
15 December 2003 | by Narwhal-1See all my reviews

It's so rare to find a literary work adequately translated to the screen that I may have rated this film higher than it deserves, but not by much. As a long-time student of Vonnegut's works, I have no hesitation in recommending the film to his readers, at least to those that love him as I do. The casting is inspired: Nolte is understated in triumph, bewildered in defeat, decisive in judgment. Sheryl Lee is luscious throughout, but her handling of the treacherous Resi and her tragic crescendo almost makes you forget her beauty. Alan Arkin delivers a totally lovable, but equally treacherous, Soviet spy.

Do not feel you have to read Mother Night to appreciate the film; though, if you haven't read Mother Night, you will probably want to after viewing the film.

Notice the shifts from color to black-and-white and back again, and don't miss the final symbolism of Campbell's noose. Watch, also, for Kurt Vonnegut's cameo near the end of the film.

Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" will never sound the same (I write in mid-December, when the song is getting heavy radio play, and it's driving me nuts).


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