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One of the charms of Down and Out is it's "dated" quality. Paul Mazursky has a great talent for capturing an era in popular culture and some of his movies, such as Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice are incredible historical records of their times as well as durable entertainment. Down and Out jump-started Richard Dreyfuss' flagging career, as well as Bette Midler's as a movie actress and Little Richard as a popular singer. This is something modern audiences probably don't know, just a historical side note. Nick Nolte prepared for the part by actually living on the street and not bathing for a month. An actor who takes his parts seriously.
Another fun quality of Mazursky's films is that he puts his friends and family into his movies. Don Muhich, the dog psychiatrist, was Paul's psychotherapist in the '70s and has that role in two other Mazursky movies (B&C&T&A and Blume in Love)