7.2/10
4,646
51 user 26 critic

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:

Howard W. Campbell, Jr., is the most patriotic American in the Third Reich. 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

Originally announced by producers Irwin Winkler and Bob Chartoff in 1972. 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

References The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Tabula Rasa
Composed by Arvo Pärt
Performed by Gidon Kremer, Tatiana Grindenko and Alfred Shnitke (as Alfred Schnittke)
ECM New Series 1275
Courtesy of ECM Records
Used by arrangement with European America Music Dist. Corp., Agent for Universal Edition Vienna,
publisher and copyright holder
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Deeply Moving Film
20 February 2008 | by jcanettisSee all my reviews

There are numerous films relating to WW2, but Mother Night is quite distinctive among them: In this film, we are introduced to Howard Campbell (Nolte), an American living in Berlin and married to a German, Helga Noth (Lee), who decides to accept the role of a spy: More specifically, a CIA agent Major Wirtanen (Goodman) recruits Campbell who becomes a Nazi propagandist in order to enter the highest echelons of the Hitler regime. However, the deal is that the US Government will never acknowledge Campbell's role in the war for national security reasons, and so Campbell becomes a hated figure across the US. After the war, he tries to conceal his identity, but the past comes back and haunts him. His only "friend" is Wirtanen, but even he cannot do much for the avalanche of events that fall upon poor Campbell...

The story is deeply touching, as we watch the tragedy of Campbell who although a great patriot, is treated by disdain by everybody who surrounds him. Not only that, but he also gradually realizes that even the persons who are most close to him, have many secrets of their own. Vonnegut provides us with a moving atmosphere, with Campbell's despair building up and almost choking the viewer.

Nolte plays the role of his life, in my opinion; he is even better than in "Affliction", although in both roles he plays tragic figures who are destined to self-destruction. Sheryl Lee is also excellent, and the same can be said for the whole cast in general.

I haven't read the book, so I cannot appraise how the film compares to it. In any case, this is something of no importance here: My critique is upon the film per se, and the film wholeheartedly deserves a 9/10.


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