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Down by Law (1986) Movie Information

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Down by Law (1986)
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Comedy, Drama





Theater Date:



Jim Jarmusch


Tom Waits
John Lurie
Roberto Benigni
Nicoletta Braschi
Ellen Barkin
Billie Neal





Plot Outline:

Three men in a Louisiana prison: DJ Zack, the pimp Jack and eccentric Italian Roberto, hatch an escape plan. -- Chris Kavan

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Quick Movie Reviews

Snoogans 03/08/2015 (0 of 0 found this helpful)

Rating of

This is not the usual 'prison' film. The basic plot is very familiar, but the realism and well drawn characters are what set it apart from the crowd. Not as much time is spent in the prison as I expected. However, those are the best scenes. It's great at conveying the complete isolation and insufferable boredom that comes with prison time. This is done so by staying within the confines of the one cell. Waits and Lurie are great, but the standout is Benigni. He brings a lively atmosphere to the drab prison setting. All three make an unlikely trio of successful escaped convicts. The road to freedom doesn't feel like a victorious triumph. It's more of a way to redeem these 'wrongfully' incarcerated men and give them a second chance.

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Moviehead 04/22/2012 (1 of 1 found this helpful)

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Down by Law is best film by Jim Jarmusch. It is great comedy. It is drama that actually works (not over the top). Characters are very interesting and acting is great. Especially Benigni who i dont really like in his own films. Directing is great. Black and white is right choice. Lots of those moving shots are great, mesmerizing and the music that follows them is also very good. And intro song is great. Ending is another thing in this film that is great, realistic but still touching. Jarmusch is genious and this is his best work.

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Frankie 05/02/2009 (0 of 0 found this helpful)


I like this one better than Stranger Than Paradise, but it suffers for not having a real plot.

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The_Watchman 04/18/2008 (1 of 1 found this helpful)

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Not entirely sure why I love this movie so much, but I do. Probably because of the hilarious and very human characters.

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Allison 09/20/2007 (0 of 0 found this helpful)

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I really liked this movie down to the last detail: the characters, the music, the direction was perfect. I LOVE JIM JARMUSCH'S MOVIES! Tom Waits should be in more films.

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Full Movie Reviews

  Daniel Corleone
Daniel Corleone
Movie God

03/19/2013 (0 of 0 found this helpful)

Down by Law review

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.!!!" Probably one of the most enjoyable and realistic prison films associated with oddball figures. It starts off with an argument between Laurette and Zack (Tom Waits), a DJ. Jack (John Lurie), a pimp, gets framed by the police, so was Zack. Bob (Benigni) joins the mismatched pair in a single cell. Surprisingly funny and provocative with lines "You don't understand any kind of people. Maybe that's your problem." "It is a sad and beautiful world." "Very strange mother, my mother. But I love her." and "And now I have fallen in love, at last. I have finded my new home." The cast did a splendid job with the believable performances. If it had been three different leads, then the on-screen chemistry would have been off. The soundtrack...

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