7.8/10
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Down by Law (1986)

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Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie.

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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Zack
... Jack
... Roberto
... Nicoletta
... Laurette
Billie Neal ... Bobbie
Rockets Redglare ... Gig
... 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. 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:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$49,840, 28 September 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,436,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roberto Benigni's line "It's a sad and beautiful world" was the result of a misunderstanding. The script read "That's sad and beautiful music", but Benigni said "It's a sad and beautiful word", but Waits and Jarmusch misheard it and though he said "WORLD", and so, the line stuck. See more »

Goofs

When Roberto is drawing a window on the wall, an indistinct impression of the same drawing of a window can already be seen, presumably drawn during an earlier take and later erased. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Brows Held High: Pinocchio (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Raining
Written by Allen Toussaint
Performed by Irma Thomas
Used by permission of CBS Unart catalog, Inc. and Jefferson Jazz, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
atmospheric without much tension
7 July 2015 | by See all my reviews

In New Orleans, Radio DJ Zack (Tom Waits) is berated by his girlfriend Laurette (Ellen Barkin) for losing his job. He gets $1000 to drive a car across town but the cops stop him and find a dead body in the trunk. Jack (John Lurie) is a pimp who is offered a new young white girl. Before he notices that she's underage, cops bust in and arrest him. They end up in the same cell and Roberto (Roberto Benigni) who speaks little English is brought in. He writes down phrases that strike him. He tells them that he's a card cheat who killed a man with the pool 8-ball. Then he leads them on a breakout.

The camera lingers in slow moving long continuous scenes. The sparse settings give a surreal feel to it all. Everything has a dreamlike quality. It has an interesting atmosphere but it doesn't have much tension which is Jim Jarmusch's style.


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