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Daniel Kreps at Rolling Stone reports the death of Harry Dean Stanton.
Stanton was a native of Kentucky and a veteran of the Battle of Okinawa. Film critic Roger Elbert, an admirer of his work, once said:
“No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad. An exception was Chattahoochee, starring Walsh. Stanton’s record is still intact.”
I first encountered Stanton playing the unsavory Kiser Pease in Where the Lilies Bloom (1974). We watched the movie in grade school on reel-to-reel film and read the novel upon which the film was based. (I was ten years old at the time.)
But when I saw him on the big screen in his role as the taciturn Brett, I was amazed at the difference he played:
In 1979, Ridley Scott’s Alien introduced film-goers to a new standard for science fiction, and Stanton played an important role. His “Right”-minded Brett was almost a shadow of a man, non-confrontational but opinionated, a weary veteran of untold voyages…and nothing like any space man we’d seen before.
After Alien, I will always remember Stanton in his role as drifter Travis in Paris, Texas (1984), by Wim Winders.
Stanton was nominated for several awards during his career (The Green Mile, Hotel Room, Big Love). He won the 2003 Best Audio Commentary for Alien and the 2012 Boston Society of Film Critics Award for his work in Seven Psychopaths.
According to imdB’s Harry Dean Stanton page, he played the role of Sheriff Lloyd in Frank and Ava (2017), currently in post-production.
Stanton’s gift for inhabiting characters on the margin — for which he was sought by writers, directors, and film fans –will be missed.
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