Down by Law

  • Tuesday June 27, 2017 7:00 PM

Down by Law, Jim Jarmusch, 1986, 1 hr. 47 mins.

Down by Law is a fable of poetic density. Vincent Canby, New York Times, September 19, 1986

Down by Law is a black-and-white independent film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It centers on the arrest, incarceration, and escape from jail of three men who travel together through the Louisiana bayous and New Orleans. Robert Ebert describes Down by Law as “a collage made out of objects from old gangster movies, old blues songs and old jailhouse stories.”

With the film’s release in 1986, Vincent Canby wrote in a review for the New York Times, “Like Stranger Than Paradise, which introduced Mr. Jarmusch to the American public in 1984, Down by Law wears a furrowed brow on its long face, which doesn't initially identify it as a comedy. However, Mr. Jarmusch's comedies, which might be described as existential shaggy-dog stories, look and sound like those of nobody else making movies in America today.”


Tuesday Evenings at the Modern: Films is a summer extension of the lecture series. This film-based weekly program runs through the summer months and strives to continue the consideration of ideas and issues pertaining to the art and architecture of the Modern, as well as to contemporary art in general.  

The screenings this summer focus on the genre of road films, as recommended by the artist Doug Aitken. Each selection addresses notions of the nomadic, time and space through movement, the horizon line, and/or the landscape and culture of the West in conjunction with the Modern’s summer exhibition Doug Aitken: Electric Earth. Visit for more information.

To create a full experience, these presentations include a brief introduction and opportunity for discussion following the films. Seating is available in the Modern's auditorium at 6:30 pm, and the program begins at 7 pm. The museum's galleries are open until 7 pm on Tuesdays during Tuesday Evenings at the Modern: Films. This program is free and open to the public. Up to two free tickets can be obtained at the information desk beginning at 5 pm the day of the screening.