"I scream-a, you scream-a, we all scream-a for ice cream-a!"Down By Law
— Roberto AKA Bob
is a 1986 independent film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
. It stars John Lurie, pre-Oscar Roberto Benigni and musician Tom Waits
Jack (Lurie), a pimp, and Zack (Waits), a disc jockey, are both imprisoned in Louisiana for crimes they didn't commit. Before long they're joined by Italian immigrant Roberto (Benigni)
, who was arrested for manslaughter (which he did commit).
Roberto soon comes up with a plan that allows them to escape prison together; they then must navigate the swamps and forests of Louisiana without being recaptured.
Well known for its beautiful cinematography by Jarmusch associate Robby Muller.
This Movie Contains Examples of:
- Beware the Nice Ones: Roberto, the friendliest man in the trio, is the only one jailed for a real crime - murder by cue-ball.
- Deep South: The film was shot in and takes place in Louisiana and New Orleans and makes use of the swampy scenery.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The whole film is shot in black and white.
- Frame-Up: As noted above.
- Gratuitous Italian: Roberto is Italian and doesn't known much English besides the phrases he's written down in his notebook.
- Great Escape: Played with. The film's focus is not on the escape itself (in fact the details are never revealed), but on the characters involved.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Averted and played straight in the first few scenes with Zack and the prostitute.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever method the trio uses to escape from the prison.
- Power Trio: The three main characters. Roberto mediates between Jack and Zack who always end up fighting.
- Prison Riot: Using the page quote above, Roberto manages to provoke a general outburst that comes very close to dissolving into an example of this
- Punk in the Trunk: The reason for Zack's imprisonment.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Reversed. Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi met on the set playing charaters who fall in love and eventually got married in Real Life.
- Tom Waits: Not only does the film star the man, it features two songs from his '85 album Rain Dogs: "Jockey Full Of Bourbon" and "Tango Till They're Sore".
- What Are You in For?: The three prisoners go through this with each other.
- You All Meet in a Cell: Or at least the three leads do.