Down by Law


Film runs
Wed, Apr 2
Wed, Apr 9

Down by Law
Jim Jarmusch, 1986
USA/West Germany | Format: 35mm | 107 minutes

Jarmusch re-teamed with John Lurie after the breakthrough success of Stranger Than Paradise for this pitch-perfect Louisiana-set comic odyssey, shot in stunning black-and-white by Robby Müller. Three rebellious deadbeats—a prickly, gravel-voiced radio DJ (Tom Waits), a laconic, idealistic would-be pimp (Lurie), and a gregarious Italian expat armed with a handbook of English idioms (Roberto Benigni)—form an unlikely alliance when they land in the same New Orleans jail cell. Aside from featuring two of Jarmusch’s finest musical set-pieces—a daybreak crawl through the streets of New Orleans to the strains of Waits’s “Jockey Full of Bourbon,” and a knockout last-act dance set to Irma Thomas’s “It’s Raining”—Down by Law is an endlessly quotable character-driven comedy, a peerless study of male friendship, and a love letter to the bayous and back alleys of Louisiana. Benigni’s character delivers the film’s motto, which could be the refrain of Jarmusch’s entire body of work: “It’s a sad and beautiful world.”

Screening with:

Tom Waits – It’s Alright with Me
Jim Jarmusch | 5m

Series: Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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