Up 801 this week

Down by Law (1986)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  30 October 1986 (West Germany)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 33,767 users  
Reviews: 87 user | 66 critic

The story of three different men in a Louisiana prison and their eventual journey.



Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Top 25 Trivia Items From the Last 25 Years

Here are some amazing facts and figures to deepen your appreciation of the movies you love.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 36 titles
created 24 Jan 2012
a list of 46 titles
created 13 Oct 2012
a list of 48 titles
created 21 Jul 2013
a list of 30 titles
created 19 Mar 2014
a list of 45 titles
created 2 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Down by Law" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Down by Law (1986)

Down by Law (1986) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Down by Law.
4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A self-styled New York hipster is paid a surprise visit by his younger cousin from Budapest. From initial hostility and indifference a small degree of affection grows between the two. Along... See full summary »

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson
Mystery Train (1989)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three stories are connected by a Memphis hotel and the spirit of Elvis Presley.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Masatoshi Nagase, Yûki Kudô, Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An anthology of 5 different cab drivers in 5 American and European cities and their remarkable fares on the same eventful night.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Winona Ryder, Gena Rowlands, Lisanne Falk
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A series of vignettes that all have coffee and cigarettes in common.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A young slacker wanders New York City searching for some meaning in life and encounters many idiosyncratic characters.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Chris Parker, Leila Gastil, John Lurie
Dead Man (1995)
Drama | Fantasy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange North American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An African American mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Henry Silva, John Tormey
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Isaach De Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin
Drama | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance - which has already endured several centuries - is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a vignette called "Strange to meet you," Roberto sits at a small table in a coffee bar. Five cups of coffee and two ashtrays are in front of him; he drinks and smokes. Steven joins him. ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

This shortcut repeats the structure of Coffee and Cigarettes. This time, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits meet in a bar. But, again, we don't know why they agreed to do that in the first place, ... See full summary »

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Iggy Pop, Tom Waits


Cast overview, first billed only:
Billie Neal ...
Rockets Redglare ...
Vernel Bagneris ...
Timothea ...
L.C. Drane ...
Joy N. Houck Jr. ...
Detective Mandino (as Joy Houck Jr.)
Carrie Lindsoe ...
Young Girl
Ralph Joseph ...
Richard Boes ...
Dave Petitjean ...
Cajun Detective


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 -but rather more useful to them is the fact that Roberto knows an escape route Written by Michael Brooke <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Comedy | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

30 October 1986 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Bajo el peso de la ley  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,100,000 (estimated)


$1,436,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jim Jarmusch had intended that the shack that the fugitives find refuge in after escaping prison would have bunk beds, so as to make it look exactly like the prison cell. Incredibly, they found a shack where two bunk beds were already standing, so no extra furniture had to be added. See more »


Zack writes the number of the days that he's spent in cellar on the wall. Before he fights Jack for the first time, he angrily writes two big lines (two days). In the next scene with Roberto they are normal length. See more »


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


Referenced in Nur für eine Nacht (1997) See more »


Tango Till They're Sore
Written and Performed by Tom Waits
from his 'Rain Dogs' album
Courtesy Island Records, Inc.
(end title)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Noire Fairy Tale: Surprised by Delight
18 March 2005 | by (California) – See all my reviews

This movie was a total surprise to me. I'm sure it's very famous, but somehow had never seen it before. From the beginning scenes, I was expecting a gritty low life, wind up in the gutter, down and out kind of crime movie and that was fine with me, especially if set in New Orleans. At the same time there was a surprising freshness about it, that caught my attention, like a wake up call. Literally, there was writing on the wall that signaled "this is not that kind of movie!" The opening scenes reminded me of the opening of Sopranos -- the rolling shot of a neighborhood with an ominous sounding song in the background. (Were the Sopranos producers inspired by this film?) But once Roberto Benigni appeared on the scene, announcing that "Life is Sad and Beautiful" the whole story began to feel more like a strange fairy tale. Throughout the film, I appreciated the way the director took his time, letting the story evolve slowly, giving the characters time to develop their tenuous bonds. I could watch this again and again, knowing I would keep discovering hidden meanings, references, and ironies. Loved it!!!!

42 of 66 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I saw Down by Law for the first time last night and... Wylie-Times
What do you think of the acting? wanbaclone
More Classic Indie Movies like this? intruderz_
'I am a good egg' zaptista
italian mumbling irie44
i scream...we all scream for ice cream jambles
Discuss Down by Law (1986) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: