Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

In writer/director Paul Mazursky's R-rated comedy (Disney's first, for its new Touchstone division) -- a comedic remake of Jean Renoir's classic Boudu Sauvé des Eaux (1932) (aka Boudu Saved From Drowning):

  • during the opening credits, the brilliant use of The Talking Heads' Once in a Lifetime ("And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful Wife / And you may ask yourself / Well, how did I get here?"), intercutting scenes of real-life Los Angeles homeless with charismatic, iconoclastic, charming but disheveled vagrant Jerry Baskin (Nick Nolte) pushing his possessions across a street
  • the scene of Jerry attempting suicide by drowning in the Whiteman family's pool after his little beloved dog Kerouac abandoned him during the Thanksgiving season; Jerry was rescued ("Call 911!") by the head of household - millionaire coat-hanger manufacturer Dave Whiteman (Richard Dreyfuss); afterwards, Jerry was invited into the Whiteman's nouveau-riche Beverly Hills household by "giving them everything they wanted"
  • Jerry's seduction of sexually-repressed, status-obsessed, spaced-out Barbara Whiteman (Bette Midler), whose ecstatic screaming reverberated around the neighborhood (Matisse convulsed and panted, the phallic cable antenna vibrated, the sprinklers erupted, etc.) and Barbara's post-coital compliments for Jerry: "You found my "G" spot, but this was a one-time trip to the moon. It happened, and there's nothing we can do about it now. But no matter how fantastic it was, we can never repeat this adventure" before she began singing You Belong to Me
  • the many scene-stealing scenes of neurotic family dog Matisse (black-and-white border collie Mike the Dog), who required a dog therapist
Matisse With Dog Therapist
  • millionaire coat-hanger manufacturer Dave Whiteman's initial bonding with Jerry that soured because of Jerry's -
    (1) seduction of Mexican maid Carmen (Elizabeth Peña) whom Dave was also having an affair with
    (2) encouragement of androgynous, sexually-confused and obsessive son Max (Evan Richards) to come out to him, and
    (3) sexual relations with anorexic college student Jenny Whiteman (Tracy Nelson)
  • the wild, climactic New Year's Eve party at the Whitemans (Helicopter pilot: "What a f--king party!"), as next door neighbor and record producer Orvis Goodnight (Little Richard) performed Tutti Frutti on the piano, and fireworks exploded (and everyone jumped in the pool)
  • Jerry's decision to leave: (Dave: "You lied" Jerry: "What did you want to hear, Dave? REAL heartbreak? REAL sorrow?")
  • the ending sequence in the alleyway behind the Whiteman's house, where Jerry had been joined by Matisse to scrounge in a dumpster, but was silently urged by the entire family to return to the house - they expectantly awaited his entrance; Jerry signaled to Matisse: "Let's go grab a cup of cappuccino"; after all the other family members entered the gate after Jerry, there was a final haunting shot of Dave's unsure look about following everyone - to the book-ended strains of Once in a Lifetime
Jerry's Departure and Quick Return to the Whiteman Family

Vagrant Jerry Baskin
(Nick Nolte)

Jerry's Attempted Drowning Suicide in the Whiteman Pool

Dave and Barbara Whiteman (Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler)

Jerry's Seduction of Barbara - and Her Post-Sex Compliments: "You found my 'G' Spot"

Orvis Goodnight (Little Richard) on the Piano

Pool Party


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z