mike@projection-booth.com mike@projection-booth.com

June 24, 2014

Episode 172: Mother Night (1996)

Special Guests: Bob Weide, Gregory D. Sumner, Mary Kenny

Perhaps the best adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut work, Mother Night stars Nick Nolte as Howard W. Campbell, Jr. an American playwright whose Nazi broadcasts may have helped America win the war. But, at what cost? Mother Night stars Alan Arkin, Sheryl Lee, Frankie Faison, John Goodman and a great supporting cast.

Also, we'll be talking to screenwriter Bob Weide (who's currently wrapping up a documentary on Kurt Vonnegut), Gregory D. Sumner, author of Unstuck in Time A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels, and Mary Kenny, author of Germany Calling A Personal Biography of William Joyce Lord Haw-Haw.

Our special guest co-host is the director and co-producer of Mother Night, Keith Gordon.

Buy Mother Night on DVD
Buy Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Buy Unstuck in Time A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels by Gregory D. Sumner
Buy Back to School starring Keith Gordon & Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Visit the official Mary Kenny Website
Buy Germany Calling A Personal Biography of William Joyce Lord Haw-Haw by Mary Kenny
Read Bob Weide's memories of making Mother Night
Listen to Keith Gordon on our Static and Love and Death episodes

Listen / Download Now:



  1. The Foreign ViewerJul 7, 2014, 12:07:00 PM

    Instead of my usual overblown endless tirades, I'll summarize my thoughts on this movie in one sentence: This masterpiece was robbed of Oscar (or at least several nominations).

    Asshats who make fun of Nick today, ought to see this movie and learn something about his talent, quality movies and life in general. The fact that I pretty much hate movies based on Kurt Vonnegut's work only re-enforces my affection for this outlier film. I always believed that if the Academy hadn't shunned this movie and Noltie, his career wouldn't have gone off the rails soon after as it did. Thanks for making classy choices when it comes to choosing topics for the show.

    I have just one trivial question, Was it Mike's or Rob's idea to do a show on this movie?

    1. Thanks for the good word.

      It was my idea to cover this film. We had Keith on before, Mike knows him well, and I thought why not talk about this one because it could open up a conversation on Vonnegut, Lord Haw Haw and more.

      I agree with you about "Mother Night" getting the respect it deserves.



    2. The Foreign ViewerJul 7, 2014, 8:46:00 PM

      Then, thank you Rob for spotlighting this gem.

      Just as is the case with Nick, Bob Weide and the cinematographer (man, does this movie look great or what, despite its bleak tone and heavy atmosphere), Keith was also without a doubt robbed of Oscar nomination that year. And his anecdote about how he got to Nick by acting in "I Love Trouble" solved one of my lifelong dilemmas. You see, I saw "I Love Trouble" back in the day solely because Nick was in it, and I never managed to figure out why the hell was that "movie" made or who the hell it was made for. Well now I know. In the grand cosmic scale of things, that p.o.s. had to be made to bring people behind Mother Night together. I guess that makes sense. After all, you do need a pile of first class compost to grow a beautiful Carnation. ;)

  2. The Foreign ViewerJul 7, 2014, 12:42:00 PM

    Love your choice of episode's intro music. Whenever I hear that song, the first thing that always comes to my mind as well is white supremacy. I don't know why. :) That first line is such an unfortunate double entendre today...

    1. Well, not really connected... but in a satirical way.


  3. The Foreign ViewerApr 18, 2015, 8:25:00 PM

    A piece of Imdb trivia for other Vonnegut's movie Slaughterhouse Five (1972):

    The character of Howard Campbell Jr. appears in the film and speaks to the American P.O.W.s before the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut wrote an entire novel about this character called "Mother Night", later made into a film by Keith Gordon starring Nick Nolte as this same character.

    So, is it worth seeing the whole movie just for the one or two scenes the character's in? Actually, yes, yes it indeed is.

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:22:37 PM