RIP: Tribute to Acting Legend Harry Dean Stanton

The actor and musician passed away at 91.

by Benjamín Harguindey

Film critic Roger Ebert used to say that “no movie featuring Harry Dean Stanton in a supporting role can be altogether bad”.

You take a look at the man’s impressive filmography – Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Alien (1979), Escape from New York (1981), Christine (1983), Repo Man (1984), Paris, Texas (1984), Pretty in Pink (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Straight Story (1999), The Green Mile (1999), Alpha Dog (2006) and Inland Empire (2006), to mention only a handful – and you have to agree with him.

To describe the man’s life and work in full would be to list some 200 movies and assorted TV roles and appearences, and even then it wouldn’t do Harry Dean Stanton any justice. Harry Dean Stanton whose career spanned over 60 years and covered the majority of the history of cinema as well as many of its masterpieces. Harry Dean Stanton who got his start playing TV cowboys in the 50s and 60s. Harry Dean Stanton who found himself playing supporting roles in mainstream productions and smaller cult movies alike. Harry Dean Stanton who had his own film festival named after him in his childhood hometown.

Harry Dean Stanton who worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Curtiz, John Ford, Norman Jewison, Monte Hellman, Sam Peckinpah, John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola, Mike Nichols, Arthur Penn, Bob Dylan, John Huston, Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Alex Cox, Wim Wenders, Robert Altman, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, John Frankenheimer, Bob Rafelson, Agnes Varda, Terry Gilliam and Frank Darabont.

Harry Dean Stanton who was an accomplished musician, which resulted in no small amount of movies showcasing this talent. Harry Dean Stanton who had an inimitable, irreplaceable, genuine salt-of-the-earth presence that turned him into one of the most unique actors to ever journey across cinematic history, stealing every single scene he graced. Whether the role was just that, “a scene”, or he was the lead. As a leading man he will be probably best remembered for as the broken wanderer of Paris, Texas.

Harry Dean Stanton who was a relentless, prolific performer. His last works include the series Twin Peaks: The Return (reprising a character from the 1992 film); Frank and Ava, an ensemble movie currently in post-production, and the starring role in John Carroll Lynch‘s debut movie Lucky. Of his performance, Variety said “Everything Harry Dean Stanton has done has brought him to this moment of triumph”.

BenjaBenjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).

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