IMDb > Mystery Train (1989)
Mystery Train
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Mystery Train (1989) More at IMDbPro »

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Mystery Train -- Aloof teenage Japanese tourists, a frazzled Italian widow, and a disgruntled British immigrant all converge in the city of dreams--which, in Mystery Train, from Jim Jarmusch, is Memphis. This triptych of stories pays playful tribute to the home of Stax Records, Sun Studio, Graceland, Carl Perkins, and, of course, the King, who presides over the film like a spirit.
Mystery Train -- Criterion Collection release trailer


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Jim Jarmusch (written by)
View company contact information for Mystery Train on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 November 1989 (USA) See more »
Three stories are connected by a Memphis hotel and the spirit of Elvis Presley. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
One of the loosest, though tightly structured, low-key yet hilarious, and rocking' films of the 80's See more (55 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Masatoshi Nagase ... Jun (segment "Far from Yokohama")

Yûki Kudô ... Mitsuko (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Screamin' Jay Hawkins ... Night Clerk (segment "Far from Yokohama")
Cinqué Lee ... Bellboy (segment "Far from Yokohama")

Rufus Thomas ... Man in Station (segment "Far from Yokohama")

Jodie Markell ... 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")

Nicoletta Braschi ... Luisa (segment "A Ghost")

Elizabeth Bracco ... Dee Dee - Charlie's Sister (segment "A Ghost")

Sy Richardson ... Newsvendor (segment "A Ghost")

Tom Noonan ... Man in Arcade Diner (segment "A Ghost")
Stephen Jones ... The Ghost (segment "A Ghost")
Lowell Roberts ... Lester (segment "A Ghost")

Sara Driver ... Airport Clerk (segment "A Ghost")
Richard Boes ... 2nd Man in Arcade Diner (segment "A Ghost")
Darryl Daniel ... Waitress in Arcade Diner (segment "A Ghost")

Calvin Brown ... Pedestrian (segment "A Ghost")
Jim Stark ... Pall Bearer at Airport (segment "A Ghost")
Elan Yaari ... Pall Bearer at Airport (segment "A Ghost")

Joe Strummer ... Johnny aka Elvis (segment "Lost in Space")

Rick Aviles ... Will Robinson (segment "Lost in Space")

Steve Buscemi ... Charlie the Barber (segment "Lost in Space")

Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Ed (segment "Lost in Space")
Royale Johnson ... Earl (segment "Lost in Space")
Winston Hoffman ... Wilbur (segment "Lost in Space")
Rockets Redglare ... Liquor Store Clerk (segment "Lost in Space")
Marvell Thomas ... Pool Player 1 (segment "Lost in Space")
Charles Ponder ... Pool Player 2 (segment "Lost in Space")
D'Army Bailey ... Pool Player 3 (segment "Lost in Space")

Tom Waits ... Radio D.J (segment "Lost in Space") (voice)

Directed by
Jim Jarmusch 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jim Jarmusch  written by

Produced by
Kunijiro Hirata .... executive producer
Demetra J. MacBride .... associate producer (as Demetra MacBride)
Rudd Simmons .... line producer
Jim Stark .... producer
Hideaki Suda .... executive producer
Original Music by
John Lurie 
Cinematography by
Robby Müller (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Melody London 
Production Design by
Dan Bishop 
Set Decoration by
Dianna Freas 
Costume Design by
Carol Wood 
Makeup Department
Robert Laden .... special makeup artist (as Bob Laden)
Meredith Soupios .... hair stylist supervisor
Meredith Soupios .... makeup supervisor
Production Management
Kathie Hersch .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eric Heffron .... first assistant director (as Eric 'Elvis' Heffron)
Constance L. Hoy .... second assistant director (as Connie Hoy)
Art Department
Jeff Butcher .... prop master
Dianna Freas .... hotel room paintings
Eric Gruber .... construction coordinator
Takuya Matsuyama .... special props: Tokyo
Tom Mittlestadt .... assistant props
Sound Department
Gina Alfano .... dialogue editor
Jeanne Atkin .... apprentice sound editor
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist (as Marco Constanza)
Rick Dior .... sound re-recording mixer: Todd A/O East
Eugene Gearty .... sound effects editor
Mark Goodermote .... boom operator
Robert Hein .... supervising sound editor
Mary Hickey .... assistant sound editor
Frank Kern .... dialogue editor
Lori Kornspun .... adr editor
Drew Kunin .... location sound mixer
Deborah Martin .... apprentice sound editor
Ahmad Shirazi .... dialogue editor
Sylvia Waliga .... dialogue editor
Special Effects by
Gary L. King .... special effects coordinator (as Gary King)
Camera and Electrical Department
Katherine M. Butler .... second assistant camera (as Kate Butler)
Paul Ferrara .... key grip
Mark Higashino .... assistant still photographer
Paul Leonard .... additional grip
Chris Lombardi .... first assistant camera (as Cris Lombardi)
David Mackay .... third electrician
John Joseph Minardi .... third grip (as John Minardi)
Robert O'Bleness .... additional electrician
Christopher Porter .... gaffer
Melvin Pukowsky .... best boy (as Melvin Pukowsky Jr.)
Masayoshi Sukita .... still photographer
Eric Wilson .... additional electrician
Naomi Wise .... fourth electrician
Elan Yaari .... best boy
Casting Department
Noriko Murao .... casting: Tokyo, Meries Casting Co.
Novella Smith .... local casting
Kohta Yamada .... casting: Tokyo, Meries Casting Co.
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Daryl Kerrigan .... wardrobe supervisor
Editorial Department
Tim Brennan .... negative matcher
Dana Congdon .... apprentice film editor
Jay Rabinowitz .... assistant film editor
Gene Zippo .... color timer
John Dowdell .... hd colorist (uncredited)
Location Management
Michael Berry .... location manager
Donna Hester .... assistant location manager
Jan Walker .... assistant location manager
Music Department
Doug Bowne .... musician: drums (as Douglas B. Bowne)
Tony Garnier .... musician: bass
Valerie Goodman .... score coordinator
Tom Lazarus .... music recording engineer
John Lurie .... musician: guitar and harmonica
Marc Ribot .... musician: guitar and banjo
Transportation Department
Pat Stubbs .... transportation
Charles Walsh .... transportation
Other crew
Jamaine Bell .... production assistant: Memphis
Beth Bernstein .... assistant production coordinator
Molly Bradford .... assistant to producer
Steve Carroll .... production insurance: Albert G. Ruben, Inc.
Peggy Craven .... production assistant: New York
Anna Doyle Jefferson .... production assistant: Memphia
Karen Eisenstadt .... production auditor
Yoshiko Furusawa .... interpreter
Richard Heller .... legal services: Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein and Selz
Sam Jackson .... adr voice
Bobby Jay .... adr voice
Georgia Kacandes .... production coordinator
Tina Klein .... production assistant: New York
Lisa Krueger .... script supervisor
Karen Longwell .... adr voice
Ian MacDougall .... translator: English
Elisabeth Myles .... script supervisor
Kazuki Ohmori .... translator: Japanese (as Kazuki Oomori)
Todd Pfeiffer .... key set production assistant
Stacy Robison .... assistant auditor
Christa Saredi .... world sales: Saredi Film
Kerry Sherin .... office coordinator: New York
Paul Snow .... production assistant: Memphis
Danielle Sotet .... post-production auditor
Tom Stocker .... adr voice
Jeff Taylor .... production assistant: Memphis
Ralph Wakefield .... adr voice
George Walden .... production insurance: Albert G. Ruben, Inc.
Noel Wiggins .... production assistant: Memphis
Sherman Willmot .... production assistant: Memphis
Roberto Benigni .... special thanks (as Bob Benigni)
Howard Brookner .... special thanks
Becky Dinstuhl .... special thanks
Don Donigi .... special thanks: processing and prints
Seth Gelblum .... special thanks
Al Gore .... special thanks (as Senator Albert Gore)
Gary Hardy .... special thanks
Masahiro Inbe .... special thanks
Fumio Kurokawa .... special thanks
Bill Nisselson .... special thanks: Sound One
Hiromasa Shimada .... special thanks
Phil Sodano .... special thanks: processing and prints
Irwin Young .... special thanks: processing and prints

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
110 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Finland:K-12 | France:Unrated | Germany:12 | Iceland:L | Netherlands:16 (original rating) | Netherlands:12 (re-rating) | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | Singapore:M18 | Sweden:15 | Taiwan:R-15 (2016) | UK:15 | USA:R | USA:TV-MA (cable rating)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The hotel where the three stories converge is no longer standing, so many fans of the movie have made pilgrimages to the site only to find that it no longer exists. It can, however, be seen in the background of the scene in Great Balls of Fire! (1989), in the scene where Alec Baldwin is preaching from his broken-down car.See more »
Continuity: After Charlie drops the liquor bottle, the position of the glass fragments change between shots.See more »
Newsvendor:What can I do you for?
Luisa:I would like to buy this newspaper.
Newsvendor:Well now, you should buy this one here as well. The Tri-State Defender.
Luisa:No, thank you. I think I need only this one.
Newsvendor:Well, you know, you only need one leg to get around on if that's all you got. But it sure helps having two, now, doesn't it?
Luisa:Oh, well, uh, yes. This one too.
Newsvendor:How about some magazines?
See more »
Movie Connections:
The Memphis TrainSee more »


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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
One of the loosest, though tightly structured, low-key yet hilarious, and rocking' films of the 80's, 30 November 2004
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

I've seen all of Jarmusch's films with the exception of Night on Earth. While all of them (even Dead Man and Year of the Horse, movies that boggled my mind with how strange they were) carry a level of off-beat, original, and fresh kind of film-making prowess, I think my favorite (hard to say 'best' with this director) is with this film, Mystery Train. Plot-wise, it's the obvious precursor to Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (and it's understandable that QT saw this- he did, after all, include Elvis as a practical spiritual adviser for Clarence in True Romance, beside the point). The idea behind both films is very similar, but of course executed in entirely different trajectories - one person or place has a level of importance for what will happen to the characters in the film (with 'Pulp' it was Marsellus Wallace; with 'Mystery' it's the Hotel run by Screaming' Jay Hawkins, and the song Blue Moon on radio). On its own terms, Mystery Train comes out entertaining if one doesn't want to think about the timing of the plot, even if that is carefully, almost architecturally constructed.

Although the second and third stories are linked by character associations, the first is a stand-alone segment that looks like if it was just on paper could make for a calm, witty short story. As it is in the film, the Japanese couple "Far from Yokohama" featuring actors Masatoshi Nagase and Yôki Kudô, is an inviting first part of the film, almost entirely in Japanese subtitles, and playing off of the lady's love of Elvis, and the guy's quiet love for Carl Perkins (a name I didn't really know until I asked around). A steady pace is kicked off by Jarmusch, working more on mood than on a conventional story, and it is something that works rather well. Interesting still is how he sets up other little bits with supporting characters as the leads unfurls- this being an occasional couple of lines between Hawkins and down-beat bellboy Cinque Lee (there are also very quick shots of Steve Buscemi as a barber, the only small connection to the other two stories, and Rufus Thomas at the station). Sometimes the couple bicker, but never with a rush of intensity, and when the scene comes to a passionate close, it's really wonderful how it can be touching at being subtle.

The second story, "Ghost", is faster, with more of a high-key for humor. Nicoletta Braschi (Roberto Benigni's wife in most films as in life) is astray in Memphis on a flight, and instead of seeking out Elvis gets it delivered to her in a vision while in a hotel room with a talky Jersey Girl (Elizabeth Bracco). It's a complete kind of surreal scene that acts as the fine top-off to a set of odder circumstances that bring her to the hotel (in particular Tom Noonan in one of the funniest small roles I've seen in any Jarmusch film). Once again, the little things keep this thing floating with a stack of magazines, and of course, all that music on the radio.

The third story, "Lost in Space", is when Jarmusch turns up the energy, which means not as far as you might expect. What he does get is a kind of three-character triangle that some-what reminded me of a sequence in The Last Detail: three characters that are totally smashed, with nothing else except to crash in the hotel. But with this story, two performances shine through unexpectedly: Joe Strummer as a fuming, gun-toting Brit and Steve Buscemi in his early days as his "brother in-law". The climax to this scene- in essence the climax to the whole film- is one that is on par, at least comparable, to the climax of Pulp Fiction, as a wild, dead-serious and dead-funny accumulation of events tying things together.

Two facets that make Jarmusch's vision work are, for one thing, that he has Robby Mueller, a bit of a God in the world of modern European cinematographers. His scenes are lit sometimes with all the realism and fantasy of a European fantasy film, but also with a careful eye in composition and getting unusual angles on things a simple as photographing two people in bed or a person walking alone with Memphis in the backdrop. The other facet includes the city itself, with its quality of attracting and leading in people who are unique to the city, and (sometimes) particular to the music. On top of Jarmusch regular John Lurie on the guitar and harmonica, he brings in songs that remind me how much I can get into this kind of music with the right setting. They- Elvis, Orbison, and Sam Phillips among others- contribute just as much as the actors do. Mystery Train may be one of the quintessential 80's indie films (which can be said of Stinger than Paradise and Down by Law as well), that welcomes anyone who might be interested to watch, and if you don't like it, it's not at the worst offensive to taste. It's a keen film on people, music, and devotion.

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