If you don’t love pain, you won’t find The Night Porter erotic—and by now, even painbuffs may be satiated with Nazi decadence. The movie reunites a former SS officer (Dirk Bogarde) and a young woman (Charlotte Rampling) who was raped by him during her adolescence in a concentration camp.
Nora Sayre, The New York Times, 2 October 1974
The Night Porter is as nasty as it is lubricious, a despicable attempt to titillate us by exploiting memories of persecution and suffering. It is (I know how obscene this sounds) Nazi chic.
Roger Ebert, 10 February 1975
The movie is a splinter torn from a wave of so-called “Nazi chic” that swept across world cinema in the early 1970s, mostly in the hands of directors out of Germany and Italy. I suspect there was a need for movies of this nature at that time, mostly as a therapy to their filmmakers; the fascism that ran rampant through both countries during World War II caused considerable atrocity, and film was used by conflicted auteurs as a way to defuse the past and give it finality, and meaning.
David M Keyes, Cinemaphile, 15 July 2013