Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Music  |  10 March 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 26,664 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 140 user | 112 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

In the 1930s, fictional jazz guitarist Emmet Ray idolizes Django Reinhardt, faces gangsters and falls in love with a mute.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Duncan ...
A.J. Pickman
Ace - Pool Player
Hazel - Hooker #1
Iris - Hooker #2
Darryl Alan Reed ...
Steve Bargonetti ...
Musician Friend
Benjamin Franklin Brown ...
Musician Friend


A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world. We follow Ray's life: bouts of getting drunk, his bizzare hobbies of shooting rats and watching passing trains, his dreams of fame and fortune, his strange obsession with the better-known guitarist Django Reinhardt, and of course, playing his beautiful music. Written by Martin Lewison <mlewison@utk.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jazz | train | rat | gangster | 1930s | See All (39) »


Comedy | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some substance abuse | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

10 March 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Woody Allen Fall Project 1998  »

Box Office


$29,750,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$94,686 (USA) (3 December 1999)


$13,708 (Sweden) (29 September 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Samantha Morton received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and she has no spoken lines at all. See more »


Railroad freight cars have reporting marks for railroads that did not exist in '30's See more »


Emmet Ray: First time I had sex, 7 years old.
See more »


Featured in Scene by Scene: Woody Allen (2000) See more »


Indiana (Back Home Again In)
Written by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley
Performed by Red Nichols
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

For The Love Of Django
16 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When we try to understand genius, or love, or "why?", we run into the same problem that the ancients encountered:

"I went to the poets … I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them — thinking that they would teach me something. I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them." — Socrates, The Apology

So here we have Woody telling a story about a storyteller, who talks and struts endlessly (Penn has a ball with this), but can only say anything through music, and he can't explain a bit of it. Much like Woody, who prattles on about every neurosis, but speaks volumes through his control of the medium. It's just something he's born to do.

And this is the only way to understand Django -- with only two working fingers on his fretting hand (accidental disfigurement), he reinvented the whole medium of guitar. The new shape of his hand forced him into holding octaves - which can be done on guitar with two adjacent fingers, unlike on the piano - and changing the way leads and comping - here, self-accompaniment - were played. His art was the necessary step before Les Paul, and thence to Wes Montgomery, and so on to you and me.

Here is devotion without hagiography, because all of this is wrapped into "one of those Emmett Ray stories", where you can 'never be sure' of what is truth, confabulation, or exaggeration.

Brilliance. Bravo, to all.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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