Drugstore Cowboy

October 1st, 1989


Drugstore Cowboy

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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

Director: 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

Matt Dillon - Bob
Kelly Lynch - Dianne
James LeGros - Rick (as James Le Gros)
Heather Graham - Nadine
Eric Hull - Druggist
Max Perlich - David
James Remar - Gentry
John Kelly - Cop
Grace Zabriskie - Bob's Mother
George Catalano - Trousinski
Janet Baumhover - Neighbor Lady
Ted D'Arms - Neighbor Man
Neal Thomas - Halamer
Stephen Rutledge - Motel Manager
Beah Richards - Drug Counselor

Release Date: October 1989

Filming Locations: Beacon Rock, Oregon, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $2,500,000 (estimated)

Gross: $4,729,352 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Based on the writings of James Fogle, who was in reality a criminal and drug addict who robbed drugstores.

Continuity: 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.

[first lines]
Bob: I was once a shameless full-time dope fiend.

User Review

an unregarded masterpiece

Rating: 10/10

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 actors.

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.


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