Drugstore Cowboy (1989) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A pharmacy-robbing dope fiend and his crew pop pills and evade the law.

  • 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.

  • 1971. Based in Portland, Oregon, Bob Hughes is a golf aficionado and is highly superstitious. He is also a junkie who, when he's not in prison for his crimes, leads a small group of like minded people robbing pharmaceutical dispensaries throughout the Pacific Northwest of what they hope will be prescription narcotics, both to use as their fixes as well as trade for other street drugs from other junkies, such as their lowlife neighbor, David. Bob's team includes: Dianne, his wife who he's known since they were kids; Rick, his slightly dim apprentice; and Nadine, Rick's very young girlfriend who they picked up along the way in one of their robberies, and who Bob treats as the junior partner and thus the expendable one of the group. PPD Narcotics Detective Gentry and his team know that Bob is committing these crimes and has to figure out how best to nab him. Bob, in return, knows that Gentry is watching them. A specific incident that occurs during the course of their illegal activities in combination with what looks to be the fates lining up against them makes Bob reevaluate his life and contemplate going clean and straight, with or without Dianne. If Bob does make the decision to do so, he may find that saying it will happen or wanting it to happen is different from it actually happening. He may also find that a past incident with Gentry and his men will factor into what happens.

  • In 1971, in Portland, Bob, his girlfriend Dianne and his friends Rick and his girlfriend Nadine are smalltime thieves of drugstores and hospitals. They spend their lives drugged and Bob is chased by the abusive police detective Gentry (James Remar). They decide to move to another city and soon Nadine has an OD, affecting Bob that decides to return to Portland and be clean. But he is haunted by his past.

  • Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch play a heroin-driven Bonnie and Clyde, knocking over drugstores in the Pacific Northwest. Ultimately, they must dispose of the body of one of their crew, sneaking it out from a motel where a sheriffs' convention is being held.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A highly superstitious Bob and wife Diane love to do various pharmaceutical drugs like dilaudid, morphine and cocaine. To keep up the habit, they and another couple steal from numerous pharmacies. There's a cop that eventually gets too close for comfort which causes the crew to take up their possessions and move their operation to another town. It isn't too long before one of the crew dies of an overdose. The body has to be moved from their hotel room to their car. The problem is that there is an unexpected sheriff's convention assembling at the hotel where they're staying. They still manage to get the body in the car though, narrowly avoiding getting busted. Bob believes that one of his superstitious beliefs that he warned the crew against is what caused this incident and is scared into joining a methadone program. He leaves his wife Diane and the other crew member to their own will while he seems to be doing ok with his new job and methadone program. Later on, he believes the curse of his superstitious belief catches up with him in the form of another junkie encountered earlier in the film. The junkie, assisted by an accomplice, ambush Bob in his apartment hoping to score some drugs. When Bob tells them he's gone straight and doesn't have anything, they beat him up and eventually shoot him. His last words in the film after being seen driven away in an ambulance are, "The irony was f*cking brilliant. The chickensh*t cops were giving me an escort to the fattest pharmacy in town... I was still alive. I bet he'll keep me alive."

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