I was having a surf through one of those 1000 films you must see before you die books and it was arranged by year. It was actually very interesting. I was particularly struck with the mid to late '80s. 1985 had My Life as a Dog, Pee - Wee's Big Adventure, A View to a Kill, Brazil and European Vacation. I only remember that 1987 had Withnail and I which is probably all you needed to see that year anyway. However, 1986 had the super fine Jim Jarmusch film Down By Law. I remember going along to the cinema and seeing it quite a few times. I don't think I'd ever seen anything quite like it.
Set in Louisiana, it is the story of two wrongfully imprisoned men who meet for the first time in their cell: Jack a pimp played by John Lurie and Zack a DJ played by Tom Waits. A third man, Italian tourist Bob (Roberto Benigni), is also put in their cell. Speaking barely any English but an incredibly chatty person nonetheless, Bob is the exact opposite in temperament to the other two uber cool cats. Jack and Zack don't get along terribly well, but they somehow all end up escaping the prison together thanks to Bob. They wade through Louisiana swamps, walk on foot quite a bit and eventually end up at a house owned by a woman named Nicolleta. Bob instantly becomes smitten by Nicoletta and he stays on at her house while Jack and Zack continue on their way.
Why it's one of my favourite films of all time:
2. The humour is central to the appeal of this movie for me. It is not only provided by the effervescent Benigni but also by the laid back Jack and Zack. Jokes are not set up like they would be in a traditional comedy, they unfold.
3. Shot in black and white, it's very lovely to look at.
4. John Lurie and Tom Waits provide the fab music score to the film.
If you haven't already seen it, you are in for a treat!