Drugstore Cowboy

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Drugstore Cowboy
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Karen Murphy
Cary Brokaw
Nick Wechsler
Written by Gus Van Sant
Daniel Yost
Based on Drugstore Cowboy 
by James Fogle
Starring Matt Dillon
Kelly Lynch
James Remar
James LeGros
Heather Graham
William Burroughs
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited by Mary Bauer
Curtiss Clayton
Distributed by International Video Entertainment
Avenue Pictures
Release dates
  • October 6, 1989 (1989-10-06) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million[1]
Box office $4.7 million[1]

Drugstore Cowboy is a 1989 American crime drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, written by Van Sant and Daniel Yost, and is based on an autobiographical novel by James Fogle. The film stars Matt Dillon in the title role, Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham and William S. Burroughs. It marked Van Sant's second film as director.

At the time the film was made, the source novel by Fogle was unpublished. It was later published in 1990,[2] by which time Fogle had been released from prison. Fogle, like the characters in his story, was a long-time drug user and dealer.


The story follows Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon) and his crew of drug addicts as they travel across the U.S. Pacific Northwest in 1971, supporting their habit by robbing pharmacies and hospitals. After a tragedy strikes the group, Bob decides to try to "go straight", but finds that there is more to extricating himself from the drug user's lifestyle than just giving up drugs.



Filming locations

Drugstore Cowboy was filmed mainly around Portland, Oregon, including in an area in the Pearl District that used to be a railyard, with a viaduct going over it.[3] The Lovejoy Columns, which formerly held up the viaduct and feature outsider artwork, are featured in the movie.[4]


Drugstore Cowboy
Soundtrack album by Elliot Goldenthal
Released 1989
Genre Avant-garde
Length 36:14
Label Novus 3077-2-N13;[5]
RCA 3077-2-N
Producer Elliot Goldenthal
Elliot Goldenthal chronology
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The soundtrack includes songs that are contemporaneous with the film's setting, along with original music by Elliot Goldenthal. It is one of his earliest works; in it he does not use an orchestra but a whole range of instruments treated in a synthesizer.[6] The score and soundtrack were also the first that Goldenthal worked on with Richard Martinez, a music producer whose "computer expertise and sound production assistance" became the basis for frequent subsequent collaborations.[7] AllMusic rated this soundtrack three stars out of five.[5]

Side One[5]
  1. "For All We Know" (4:58) - Abbey Lincoln
  2. "Little Things" (2:25) - Bobby Goldsboro
  3. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (2:38) - Jackie DeShannon
  4. "Psychotic Reaction" (3:06) - The Count Five
  5. "Judy in Disguise" (2:56) - John Fred and His Playboy Band
  6. "The Israelites" (2:47) - Desmond Dekker & The Aces
Side Two[5]
  1. "Yesterday's Jones" (0:45)
  2. "Morpheus Ascending" (1:17)
  3. "Monkey Frenzy" (2:20)
  4. "Wonder Waltz" (1:19)
  5. "White Gardenia" (1:54)
  6. "The Floating Hex" (1:37)
  7. "Mr. F. Wadd" (1:02)
  8. "Elegy Mirror" (0:48)
  9. "Panda The Dog" (0:51)
  10. "Heist And Hat" (1:36)
  11. "Strategy Song" (2:04)
  12. "Bob's New Life" (2:48)
  13. "Clockworks" (0:32)
  14. "Cage Iron" (1:03)
  15. "Goodnight Nadine" (1:28)


Critical response

The film was very well received critically, being listed on the Top Ten list of both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for films released in 1989. It holds a rare 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 8/10 based on 27 reviews.[8] Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 82 based on 15 reviews indicating "Universal Acclaim".[9]


Drugstore Cowboy won the following awards:


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Drugstore Cowboy". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 2, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. ISBN 0-385-30224-X "Drugstore Cowboy".
  3. "Filming Locations for Drugstore Cowboy". miskoviec.com. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  4. "Lovejoy Lost". Oregon Department of Kick Ass: The Work of Vanessa Renwick. Retrieved December 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Review of Drugstore Cowboy Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  6. "Drugstore Cowboy (1989)". Music from the Movies. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  7. Thomas Staudter (March 23, 2003). "...and the Music for Frida, Produced in a Scarsdale Basement". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Drugstore Cowboy (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  9. "Drugstore Cowboy (1989)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 29, 2015.

External links