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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Jack
...
...
Nicoletta
...
Billie Neal ...
Bobbie
Rockets Redglare ...
Gig
Vernel Bagneris ...
Preston
Timothea ...
Julie
L.C. Drane ...
L.C.
Joy N. Houck Jr. ...
Detective Mandino (as Joy Houck Jr.)
Carrie Lindsoe ...
Young Girl
Ralph Joseph ...
Detective
Richard Boes ...
Detective
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 -but rather 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:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

30 October 1986 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Bajo el peso de la ley  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$1,436,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roberto Benigni's rabbit soliloquy was almost entirely self-written/improvisation, based on his own life experiences. His mother actually did raise rabbits. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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


Soundtracks

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

 
The road not taken, by "Bob" Frost
14 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Ever since "Stranger than Paradise," I have loved and sought out quirky filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. He has an unusual sense of humor and an unusual way of presenting his films. Sometimes they're episodic, like Coffee & Cigarettes, Mystery Train, and Night on Earth, and sometimes they tell the story of bizarre people brought together by bizarre circumstances.

"Down by Law" is about three men who meet in a New Orleans prison, Zack, Jack, and Roberto (Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni). Zack is a DJ who took $1000 to drive a car, but there was a body in the trunk. Jack is a pimp sent out to check out a new prospect who turns out to be underage, and the police are waiting. We only hear Roberto's story from his lips - he apparently threw a billiard ball at someone and the person died. The three men manage to escape into a swamp and woods.

Roberto quotes (in Italian) the man he refers to as "Bob Frost" and there is the symbol in the film of "The Road Not Taken" when a fork in the road is reached. One thing that cracked me up was the same thing that cracked me up in "Stranger than Paradise" - in that film, everywhere the characters went looked exactly the same as the crummy neighborhood and weather they left in Chicago. It didn't matter if it was in Florida or at the aunt's house - it was always overcast and awful. Here, the three men escape and wind up in a building to spend the night that looks just like their prison cell.

Benigni, as the cheerful, chatty one is hilarious, and what happens to him is even funnier - and could only have happened to that character. Waits and Lurie give solid performances in less showy roles - another element of Jarmusch is his unusual casting.

"Down by Law" is done in stark black and white; rarely does Jarmusch work in color. It gives this film a downbeat atmosphere, along with the garbage in the neighborhood streets, the swamp, and the woods.

There are slow sections but if you want to see this unique director's work, I recommend it. No one tells a story, or chooses what story to tell, quite like he does.


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