7.8/10
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Down by Law (1986)

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Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie.

Director:

Jim Jarmusch

Writer:

Jim Jarmusch
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Popularity
3,915 ( 2,562)
4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Waits ... Zack
John Lurie ... Jack
Roberto Benigni ... Roberto
Nicoletta Braschi ... Nicoletta
Ellen Barkin ... Laurette
Billie Neal Billie Neal ... Bobbie
Rockets Redglare Rockets Redglare ... Gig
Vernel Bagneris ... Preston
Timothea Timothea ... Julie
L.C. Drane L.C. Drane ... L.C.
Joy N. Houck Jr. Joy N. Houck Jr. ... Detective Mandino (as Joy Houck Jr.)
Carrie Lindsoe Carrie Lindsoe ... Young Girl
Ralph Joseph Ralph Joseph ... Detective
Richard Boes Richard Boes ... Detective
Dave Petitjean Dave Petitjean ... Cajun Detective
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Storyline

DJ Zack and pimp Jack end up in prison for being too laid-back to avoid being framed for crimes they didn't commit. They end up sharing a cell with eccentric Italian optimist Roberto, whose limited command of the English language is both entertaining and infuriating. More useful to them is the fact that Roberto knows an escape route. Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's not where you start - It's where you start again.

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | West Germany

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

30 October 1986 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Bajo el peso de la ley See more »

Filming Locations:

Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,435,668

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,504,286
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Co-star Tom Waits referred to the film as "a Russian neo-fugitive episode of The Honeymooners." See more »

Goofs

When Roberto is drawing a window on the wall, an indistinct impression of the same drawing of a window can already be seen, presumably drawn during an earlier take and later erased. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jack: Julie, what're you doing out here?
Julie: Just watching the light change.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dirties (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Raining
Written by Allen Toussaint
Performed by Irma Thomas
Used by permission of CBS Unart catalog, Inc. and Jefferson Jazz, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Another great movie by Jim Jarmusch
28 May 2002 | by tim_ageSee all my reviews

I've seen a couple of Jarmusch movies and except for Dead Man (which I thought was an incredible bore), they were all great.

Down By Law is probably one his best known flicks and is a very good low budget movie. It features Tom Waits, who's not only a fine musician but proves to be a decent actor as well; John Lurie, who also wrote the excellent soundtrack (Waits delivered the opening and end-credits track btw); Roberto Benigni, who nowadays is most famous for directing the Oscar-winning Italian film "La Vita E Bella".

The movie deals about three guys who meet in prison and escape. It reminded me of "O Brother Where Are Thou?" and, perhaps because of it being filmed in black and white, of old 40's movies about escaping prisoners (can't think of a good example, but you get the picture).

Three things I liked very much about this movie:

1. It's incredibly funny, especially Benigni made me laugh every time he opened his mouth - He irritated me highly in "La Vita E Bella" so that must mean something....

2. The frame of the camera is very well used. Look at the scene where Lurie counts the money and a hooker is laying behind him on the bed and the scene after that. Another example is when Benigni is dancing with a lady and the other two guys are continuing their breakfast in the back.

3. It's very hard to pinpoint when the story takes place; it's timeless in more than one way, obviously helped by the lack of color.

All in all, this one comes highly recommended.


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