149 user 84 critic

Sweet and Lowdown (1999)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, Music | 10 March 2000 (USA)
2:02 | Trailer
In the 1930s, jazz guitarist Emmet Ray idolizes Django Reinhardt, faces gangsters and falls in love with a mute woman.


Woody Allen


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Woody Allen ... Woody Allen
Ben Duncan Ben Duncan ... Ben Duncan
Daniel Okrent ... A.J. Pickman
Dan Moran ... Boss
Tony Darrow ... Ben
Chris Bauer ... Ace - Pool Player
Sean Penn ... Emmet Ray
Constance Shulman ... Hazel - Hooker #1
Kellie Overbey ... Iris - Hooker #2
Darryl Alan Reed ... Don
Marc Damon Johnson Marc Damon Johnson ... Omer
Ron Cephas Jones ... Alvin
Steve Bargonetti Steve Bargonetti ... Musician Friend
Benjamin Franklin Brown Benjamin Franklin Brown ... Musician Friend
James Urbaniak ... Harry


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


Comedy | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Did You Know?


This was the first Woody Allen since Annie Hall (1977) to be edited by someone other than Susan E. Morse. It was also the first of his films to be edited by Alisa Lepselter, who has gone on to edit all of his subsequent films. See more »


The guitar that Emmett destroys at the end of the movie is (thankfully) not a genuine Selmer Maccaferri. The shattered fragments clearly show a bolt-on neck. The genuine instruments used a bolt during construction, but this bolt was removed before the guitar was completed, leaving an empty hole. (The instrument actually destroyed was a disposable prop created by Michael Dunn.) See more »


Emmet Ray: This is my one day off, I want a talking girl.
See more »


Referenced in This Filthy World (2006) See more »


Lyrics by Cecil Mack, Lew Brown
Music by Ford Dabney
Performed by Howard Alden, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kelly Friesen, Ken Peplowski and Ted Sommer
See more »

User Reviews

28 November 2000 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Woody is uneven to say the least. His most celebrated films strike me as failures by overreaching. But here the aspirations are slight and the result is rather winning.

All of Woody's pictures are self-referential in the sense that they are about him, his foibles and neuroses. Here, that is made more plain by the invention of a simple self-referential device: the film is about an artist who has troubles relating to women, and who has eccentric habits. Ho hum, until you add the tricks which are deft;

--The story is a documentary (complete with reminicenses) but of a completely fictitious character

--The narrative comes not from a disembodied camera, but from the contemporaries and historians, including Woody. Thus, the artist sits down with the audience, to swap tales about his avatar.

--Some of the stories are of the `as I heard it' tall tale variety, going so far as to have three versions of a scene all patent lies. This is really the best.

It all works because Penn is such an intelligent actor. He knows that he has to live in several realities:

--He is the character

--He is the fictitious remembrance of the character

--He is one of the storytellers

--He is the actor Sean Penn winking at you throughout

Penn carries this off with aplumb -- simultaneous stances, all but the first in good humor. Great drama, since you never really know where you stand. This film is a gem.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics





Release Date:

10 March 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Woody Allen Fall Project 1998 See more »

Filming Locations:

Haverstraw, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$29,750,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$94,686, 5 December 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Mono)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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