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The pharmacist in the movies

Blogs are not edited by PJ staff*. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

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By Footler

Have you noticed the almost complete absence of pharmacists or dispensing technicians or indeed any mention of pharmacy in any of the various forms of entertainment for the masses?

A brief glance at the television schedules reveals programmes featuring doctors, nurses, forensic scientists, naturalists, explorers, auctioneers, estate agents, gardeners, chefs, policemen, paramedics, fashionistas, sportsmen, judges, antique dealers and many more.

But pharmacists? No.

When was the last time you watched a play, a documentary or even a soap opera with one of our profession as a main character? Can you think of a novel that has pharmacy as its background or a major part of its plot? Neither can I.

And what about Hollywood? Has any movie ever featured a lead character as a pharmacist? Well yes, actually. It was a long time ago, but I can think of three.

“Pink string and sealing wax” is a film made in 1945. Gordon Jackson played a pharmacist who was persuaded to supply the poison to murder his lover’s husband. Not exactly a positive image for pharmacy.

Believe me or not but John Wayne starred as a pharmacist in the 1942 film “In old California”. It was one of his western genre so, although I have not seen it, I would imagine he would play a cowboy playing a pharmacist. Actually he might have had some input from his father who, I am told, was a pharmacist.

In 1933 W. C. Fields starred in a film that was actually titled “The pharmacist”. I quote a review of the time: “A hard-working, hen-pecked pharmacist, harried by a shrewish spouse, dysfunctional family and demanding clientele, maintains his patience and a stoic optimism by imbibing frequent martinis. His termagant wife and self-absorbed daughters show little appreciation of his efforts to keep his precarious business profitable by selling bootleg liquor under the counter despite the suspicions of the local sheriff.”

Well? Is that anyone you know? Answers to your local sheriff (or pharmacy inspector) please.

Pharmacist on TV ?

For the record, there is a regular appearance of a Ginger-haired pharmacist in the american cartoon series 'Family Guy', shown on BBC Three. least its something!!


Pharmacists on the big screen

From Mr K. P. Moseley, MRPharmS

I often enjoy the observations presented by Footler and other fellow contributors because they provoke thought in areas previously not considered in relation to pharmacy.

Regarding the article “The pharmacist in the movies”, Footler overlooks perhaps the most well known appearance of a pharmacist in a major film: the character Mr Gower in the seasonal classic “It’s a wonderful life”.

The poor chap, who makes a potentially fatal dispensing error under duress would, had he been practising today, most likely have benefited from the support that the benevolent fund provides.

Also, off the top of my head, I remember the films “Signs” and “Nuns on the run” as having featured scenes set in pharmacies. The character Phoebe, from the popular US show “Friends”, has a long lost pharmacist father. Then there is the independent film “The pharmacist” which, I believe, is scheduled for release in 2009.

Surely, it is just a matter of time before members of our profession will be heroically portrayed by the likes of Nicolas Cage or Morgan Freeman on the big screen.

Kevin Moseley


The pharmacist in the movies

The film ‘Nikita’ starts with a pharmacy being trashed and the pharmacist killed!

     The pharmacist in the movies 


Thank you for the comments - and for updating my memory.

I'm ashamed of myself forgetting Mr Gower; I must have seen that film many times. 

Keep reading...please







Pharmacists in Film & Television

The 1994 film Murphy's Romance (James Garner/Sally Field) James Garner's character was the town pharmacist in a small western community.  The American TV show "Grace Under Fire" featured a pharmacist as the love interest to the main character Grace Kelly played by Brett Butler.  The pharmacist was played by Dave Thomas and was called Russell Norton on the show.  If memory serves Tom Poston also played Russel's father, a semi-retired pharmacist who helped out at the store from time to time

I almost forgot

Elinor "Ellie" Walker was a Female Pharmacist character on the "Andy Griffith Show".  This is from the early 1960's and she only appeared in 12 episodes.  Her portrayal is also very positive, professional and, in many ways, much ahead of her time.