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The pharmacist in the movies

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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.

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