Drugstore CowboyOctober 1, 1989
A realistic road movie about a drug addict, his 'family', and their inevitable decline into crime.
Release Year: 1989
Rating: 7.4/10 (15,034 voted)
Critic's Score: 82/100
Gus Van Sant
Stars: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James LeGros
A group of drug users in the 1970's help finance their habit by robbing drug stores. Matt Dillon's character is very superstitious and eventually his luck runs out.
Writers: James Fogle, Gus Van Sant
(as James Le Gros)
Release Date: October 1989
Filming Locations: Beacon Rock, Oregon, USA
Box Office Details
Did You Know?
Based on the writings of James Fogle, who was in reality a criminal and drug addict who robbed drugstores.
When Bob first meets with Father Tom and they're talking while seated, at the end of the conversation, Father Tom is leaning either forwards or resting at the chair's back between shots.
I was once a shameless full-time dope fiend.
an unregarded masterpiece
This is a period picture that takes place in 1971, but there are no
references to Vietnam, the flower power movement, Kent State or any other
issues or events of the day. This is because the characters have nothing to
do with that world. Bob's thoughts revolve around drugstores like planets
around the sun. His family of dope thieves lives in almost total isolation.
Even junkies who come to do business are admitted to their home with
reluctance and then rudely sent on their way. Their only contact with the
"other" world is its drugstores and its cops. They live in a world not ruled
by the authorities, but by "the dark forces that lie hidden beneath the
surface, the ones that some people call superstitions: howling banshees,
black cats, hats on beds, dogs, the evil eye…" In his world, Bob's lunatic
logic makes perfect sense and serves him as a guide for living better than
any "sane" worldview.
When the crew goes "crossroading" to the tune of "the Israelites" we realize
that they, too, are like children of a different god; wanderers whose only
contact with others is hostile confrontation. They are either "attacking"
drug stores or being attacked by ball-breaking cops.
Kelly Lynch, who plays Diane, said in an interview that, "The first take was
terrible and Matt (Dillon) said he wouldn't support the film." It is not
surprising that a film this ambitious should run into some snags. A great
film like "DC" is a tightrope act. The best scenes in the film are also the
riskiest; they would have fallen apart in the hands of lesser
If you like the film you might get a kick out of the autobiographical novel
on which it is based, by James Fogle, the original drugstore cowboy. At the
time of the film's release (1989) Fogle had spent "thirty-five of his
fifty-three years in prison on drug-related charges." I wonder what ever
became of him.