Tension (1949, dir. John Berry) is a great film noir, with Richard Basehart as the cuckolded pharmacist Warren Quimby and Audrey Totter as his three- or four- or five-timing wife Claire. Also on board: Cyd Charisse and (briefly) William Conrad. Basehart and Totter are terrific as a stunningly mismatched couple. The real star of the film though is the drugstore, an “All-Nite Service” establishment at the corner of St. Ann’s and Thirteenth, wherever that is.
Tension begins with a monologue by Lieutenant Collier Bonnabel (Barry Sullivan):
You know, these stores have everything: raisins and radios, paregoric and phonographs, vitamin capsules and cap pistols. They’ll serve you a cup of coffee, sell you a pack of cigarettes or a postage stamp, and in a pinch they’ll even fill a prescription for you.The store appears to have six main areas. Clockwise from the rear: a prescription counter, a lunch counter, a magazine rack, liquors and candy (both dandy), tobacco, and perfume.
My idea of a theme park: a dowdy-world drugstore, open all nite.
Further adventures in retail density
Harvey’s Hardware (Needham, Massachusetts)
Whelan’s Drug Store (a Berenice Abbott photograph)
[Paregoric? Merriam-Webster explains: “camphorated tincture of opium used especially to relieve pain.” I know this word from reading William Burroughs.]