Down By Law

Screening on Film
Directed by Jim Jarmusch.
With John Lurie, Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni.
US, 1986, 35mm, black & white, 107 min.
Print source: HFA

B is for Behind Bars

When a small-time hustler (Lurie) and an out-of-work deejay (Waits) are respectively framed for crimes they did not commit, the jaded pair is assigned to a prison cell inhabited by an energetic Italian tourist (Benigni). With a fondness for Walt Whitman, "Bob" Frost, and American catchphrases, the Benigni character provides the perfect foil to the deadpan of both Lurie and Waits. Employing the musical talents of his two lead actors and endless tracking shots through the streets of New Orleans, Jarmusch crafts an offbeat homage to the vintage prison film.

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Cinema A–Z: Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive