Nightjohn (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Nightjohn (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Nightjohn Photos

Movie Info

Set in the South before the Civil War, when it was illegal for African Americans to be literate, this well-wrought made-for-television drama centers on Nightjohn (Carl Lumbly), a slave who risks his life to teach a younger slave, Sarny (Allison Jones) to read and write.

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Carl Lumbly
as Nightjohn
Bill Cobbs
as Old Man
Kathleen York
as Callie Waller
Tom Nowicki
as Dr. Chamberlaine
Joel Thomas Traywick
as Jeffrey Waller
Patty Mack
as Evelyn
Danny Nelson
as Reverend Rush
Alecia Gainey
as Sarny at 4
Shannon Eubanks
as Fanny Bowen
John P. Ford III
as Arthur Waller
John Herina
as Homer Waller
Jordan Williams
as James Waller
Bill Gribble
as Slave Trader
Bruce Evers
as Patroller No. 1
James Mayberry
as Patroller No. 2
Antwan Isaac
as Young Man
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Critic Reviews for Nightjohn

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (8)

Nightjohn provides a needed boost to battered will and reinforces a lesson that many would do well not to forget.

January 26, 2022 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Carl Lumbly turns in a powerful performance as Nightjohn, a man whose wealth is his literacy.

September 27, 2019 | Full Review…

Mr. [Charles] Burnett never sacrifices drama or emotions for the sake of neat themes and lessons, and his exquisitely real touch is matched by a superb cast.

September 27, 2019 | Full Review…

The sentiment's strong, [Carl] Lumbly and [Allison] Jones are convincing, and a trim Beau Bridges reveals the plantation owner as an heir who's doing what, for him, comes naturally.

September 27, 2019 | Full Review…
Top Critic

"Nightjohn," unlike most TV movies, sticks in your mind long after it's over, partly because scripter Bill Cain has turned [Gary] Paulsen's book into a multi-leveled portrait of pre-Civil War South.

September 27, 2019 | Full Review…

Smart, memorable and well worth seeing, Nightjohn is the sort of film that often gets undeservedly overlooked.

September 27, 2019 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Nightjohn

Wonderful movie that brought to light the truths of why keeping slaves illiterate was so important to slave owners. Very touching story...chock full of some very good actors. Well done. Beau Bridges at his best.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Nightjohn Quotes

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