Mystery Train (1989)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  7 November 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 17,421 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 60 critic

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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Masatoshi Nagase ...
Jun (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Mitsuko (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Screamin' Jay Hawkins ...
Night Clerk (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Cinqué Lee ...
Bellboy (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Man in Station (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Sun Studio Guide (segment "Far from Yokohama")
William Hoch ...
Tourist Family (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Pat Hoch ...
Tourist Family (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Joshua Elvis Hoch ...
Tourist Family (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Reginald Freeman ...
Conductor (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Beverly Prye ...
Streetwalker (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Luisa (segment "A Ghost")
Dee Dee - Charlie's Sister (segment "A Ghost")
Newsvendor (segment "A Ghost")
Man in Arcade Diner (segment "A Ghost")


A Japanese couple obsessed with 1950s America goes to Memphis because the male half of the couple emulates Carl Perkins. Chance encounters link three different stories in the city, with the common thread being the seedy hotel where they are all staying. Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

7 November 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One Night in Memphis  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,800,000 (estimated)


$367,879 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film contains some of the last known footage of Stax Records. See more »


After Charlie drops the liquor bottle, the position of the glass fragments change between shots. See more »


Johnny: Hey, everybody! Check your guns at the bar!
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Sara See more »


References Lassie (1954) See more »


Get Your Money Where You Spend Your Time
Written by James "Cookie" Palmer and Tommy Tate
Performed by Bobby Bland (as Bobby Blue Band )
See more »

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User Reviews

Elvis Lives!
4 November 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

'Mystery Train' is probably the most entertaining, interesting and understated of indie-fave Jim Jarmusch's early work (i haven't seen 'Coffee and Cigarettes' yet). The films portrayal of Elvis' birthplace of Memphis, possibly one of the most featureless, gritty and desolate representations of urban America ever committed to film, is a deceptively clever and substantial take on American subcultures.

Without doubt, it is the first of the films three vignettes that makes the film stand out a little more than Jarmusch's other quirky offerings. Two Japanese tourists besotted with the King's legacy and 1950's American retro-culture in general, decide to visit Memphis, where they experience the superficiality his iconic status has been reduced to. The over-excitable and optimistic teenage girl, along with her more austere, cooler-than-cool boyfriend, are equally unimpressed with what the town has to offer. It's quite impressive that 15 years after its release, Jarmusch's depiction of alternative culture manages to capture the pretentious but proudly on-the-edges attitudes probably more apparent in today's retro-obsessed climate than ever before.

Jarmusch's signature eclectic cast is another reason for repeated viewing, the subtleties of, in particular, Steve Buscemi's stuttering and nervous performance, are worth looking out for. As is the linking theme of Elvis' ghost in all three vignettes, a brilliant example of how to take a simple theme, and continually parodize its implications until its every mention leads to some sort of in-joke. The cool, laid-back pace of the film allows the humour to hit you unexpectedly, and the timing is often genius. Very, very, very watchable.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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