The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Harry Dean Stanton Day


‘A character actor who briefly became a star in 1984, appearing in leading roles in Paris, Texas and Repo Man, Harry Dean Stanton (born in Kentucky in 1926) was also part of what made the seventies such a great decade for film, a time when character actors had the heft of leading parts but happened to play on the margins of a movie rather than at its centre. In Sophie Huber’s Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, writer and actor Sam Shepard talks of the actor’s reservations about playing the main role in Paris, Texas. Yet Shepard couldn’t see any reason why Stanton couldn’t master the role: it is just a character actor getting a bigger part. Shepard has a point but maybe for many actors this wouldn’t have been so, since film often practices a variation on what the novelist EM Forster calls round and flat characters. Round characters have subtlety, nuance and depth, but ‘flat characters were called “humours” in the seventeenth century, and are sometimes called types, and sometimes caricatures. In their purest form, they are constructed round a single idea or quality; when there is more than one factor in them, we get the beginning of the curve towards the round.’

‘Stanton was in this sense always a round character actor, and through the seventies appeared in Two-Lane Blacktop, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Cockfighter, The Missouri Breaks, 92 in the Shade, Renaldo and Clara, Straight Time and Alien. He was someone that could play a small role without it feeling no more than a plot function, and Huber’s documentary shows a scene from The Missouri Breaks illustrating this well. As his horse rustler talks to Jack Nicholson about his past, director Arthur Penn films Stanton’s brief revelation in a single take. Talking about his father’s cruelty and his own revenge, Stanton delivers his lines with the force of a leading man’s back story, though it remains merely the anecdote of a supporting player.

‘Stanton can be flippant about his interest in cinema, talking about the theatre being too damn demanding and money and girls more easily acquired through film, but his personal assistant insists that Stanton works so hard on the material he can remember other characters’ lines and not just his own. When David Lynch says in the film that many actors can memorize their lines, but what they can’t do is take care of their silences, Stanton seems someone who manages to memorize his and the other characters’ and take care of the silences too. This is beautifully illustrated in a clip from Lynch’s The Straight Story. As Stanton looks out at the motorised lawnmower his estranged brother has driven 240 miles in to visit him, so the emotion becomes too much. It might be Richard Farnsworth who has the leading role, but in this moment it is Stanton who has what we might call the ‘leading feeling’.

‘Stanton understands the years of silence that can yawn between people, and knows that dialogue is sometimes just a bridge to cross it. Much of the time in Huber’s doc, Stanton, a frail, melancholic figure, is happier singing a song about pain rather than expressing his own too directly, as if words ought to be used only when we can put meaningful feelings into them. As Wim Wenders notes in the film, Stanton has always been a vulnerable, sensitive man; it’s a point also made by an acquaintance of Stanton’s who has known him since the late 60s. Stanton doesn’t talk much but what he says really matters, the friend says, and this is no doubt partly what makes Stanton such a marvellous supporting player. He might have over his many years in film been given relatively few lines, but he knows that the feeling often lies elsewhere anyway.’ —





David Lynch on Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton /Hunter S. Thompson

Charles Bukowski’s “Torched Out” read by Harry Dean Stanton

Pop Will Eat Itself ‘Harry Dean Stanton’

During his 80th birthday party, Harry Dean Stanton covers the Jim Reeves’ song “He’ll Have To Go”

Bob Dylan and HDS sing ‘Hava Nagila’



Harry Dean Stanton Website
Harry Dean Stanton @ IMDb
‘Wild at Heart: Harry Dean Stanton’
Harry Dean Stanton Fest
‘Harry Dean Stanton: What I’ve Learned’
‘7 Things You Didn’t Know About Harry Dean Stanton’
‘Harry Dean Stanton: Crossing Mulholland’
Crispin Glover/Harry Dean Stanton
‘Harry Dean Stanton’s Long Ride in the Whirlwind’
Harry Dean Stanton @ The Criterion Collection

‘What’s with the bump on Harry Dean Stanton’s forehead?’
‘SNL Transcripts: Harry Dean Stanton: 01/18/86’




Tell me everything a director should know about actors.
Harry Dean Stanton: Well number one, you don’t have to be an authority figure. If you hear a director say “I’m the director and you’ll do what I say!”…If you ever feel yourself wanting to say that, you’re in deep shit. (laughs) I worked with George Lucas too, and you wouldn’t even know he was there, hardly. I did a video for him with Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Still plays sometimes. If you know your material, you’ve got to get good actors. Casting is 75% of it, or more. If you’ve got a good script and good actors, you’re in good shape.

What was it like working with Sam Peckinpah on Pat Garrett?
HDS: Well, the thing I remember most about that shoot is becoming friends with Bob Dylan. We hung out quite a bit during the shoot. Drove together all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico to Kansas City together. We jammed together quite a bit. He liked my Mexican songs. I can sing in Spanish. But Peckinpah, he was a volatile, very difficult guy. He never got on my case, but he was very hard on women. He was a drinker, you know. A real character. My theory was, he had a TV series once about an anti-hero called The Westerner, or something. The guy had a dog, and didn’t always win the gunfights. It got canceled…Sam was really trying to do good work, but my theory is he just got pissed off at the whole industry and started making violent films. I never really liked that whole genre, the western. Most were just morality plays with a good guy and bad guy…not really my bag.

What is your favorite genre?
HDS: No genre, really. Anything that’s original.

You seem to be drawn toward character-driven material and to stay away from blockbuster films with lots of pyrotechnics, explosions, and so on.
HDS: Yeah, well that stuff’s all too obvious. It’s like a circus. Circus maxiumus. It’s reminiscent of the Forum in Rome, with the lions and the Christians. (laughs)

Tell me about doing Godfather II.
HDS: Well working with (Francis) Coppola is always fun. I did three films with him. One was a television film. I played Rip Van Winkle (laughs). I love Francis. He’s a wonderful director. Respects actors. He did something on One From the Heart that was, especially for a “big time” director was really wonderful. There was a scene with Teri Garr and Fred Forrest and he came up to me and said “Harry Dean, you direct this scene.” No director has done that before, or since with me. And I did, I helped him direct it. Of course he had the final word on it, but for a director to do something like that is pretty special.

You did Farewell My Lovely with Robert Mitchum, who just died. What was he like?
HDS: Oh, he was a legendary character. Great story teller. He was good to be around. Always stoned (laughs).

You hung out with some legendary people yourself during the 60’s: Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda. It must’ve been a great time.
HDS: The 60’s were great. They ought to re-run ’em. A lot people didn’t get it.

What didn’t they get?
HDS: The whole revolutionary concept is the consciousness revolution against the whole system. The state, government, religion, everything. A lot of eastern religion started having an effect on the culture, too, at that point. Alan Watts, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Leary of course, who leaned a little too heavily on LSD saving the world, but I understood exactly what he was doing. On LSD the ego just goes out the window. It’s all tied in to eastern philosophy and Bhuddism, although they certainly wouldn’t recommend LSD (laughs) because that’s not the answer to it.

It sounds like you really relate to eastern philosophy and spirituality more than western.
HDS: Oh yeah, totally. I can’t relate to the Judaic-Christian concept at all. It’s a fascistic concept. All fear-based. All about there being a boss. Someone in charge. A creator. As far as we know, infinity is a reality. There’s no beginning to this and no end. So (the Judaic-Christians) made it, ‘Okay, after you die you’re gonna live forever, but not before.’ But with a positive eternity, there’s no ending and you also have to realize there’s no beginning, which blows the creationist theory totally out the window.

When you have to go to a dark place with a character, like in Paris, Texas, does that take a toll physically?
HDS: No, not with that kind of character. There was something haunting about him, very believable. Dark characters to me are serial killers, like Dennis Hopper’s role in Blue Velvet. As a matter of fact, David Lynch wanted to meet with me to play that role originally and I turned the meeting down because I think I was afraid of it. That was a big mistake, though. I wish I’d done it and just seized the bull by the horns. The older I got, the more I didn’t want to go (to those dark places) which is a mistake for an actor. And this isn’t to say that in the end I would’ve gotten the role…this is tricky, but Dennis knows all this. There were three roles I turned down that he wound up doing: Blue Velvet, River’s Edge and Hoosiers. And Dennis was nominated for an Oscar for Hoosiers. For River’s Edge I told ’em to call Dennis (laughs). And I sincerely don’t want to sound self-serving or to rain on Dennis’ parade, although I probably have (laughs). Dennis and I have laughed about it before.


23 of Harry Dean Stanton’s 206 films

Monte Hellman Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)
‘Working from a thoughtful script by Jack Nicholson, Monte Hellman fashioned this moody and tense western about a trio of cowhands who are mistaken for robbers and must outrun and hide from a posse of bloodthirsty vigilantes in the wilds of Utah. A grim yet gripping tale of chance and blind frontier justice, Ride in the Whirlwind is brought to life by a compelling cast, including Nicholson, Cameron Mitchell, Millie Perkins, and Harry Dean Stanton.’ — The Criterion Collection


the entirety


Stuart Rosenberg Cool Hand Luke (1967)
‘”If I fall, dear lord, who cares?” Stanton croons as he strums the guitar in Cool Hand Luke, the 1967 film where he plays the character of Tramp. His performance of the traditional “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is one of several songs he can be heard singing in the movie, the others including “Midnight Special” and “Ain’t No Grave Can Keep My Body Down,” though they were not part of the soundtrack album.’ — billboard




Maury Dexter The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968)
‘Driven by jealousy, the jilted leader of a female motorcycle gang instigates a sadistic reign of terror against her ex-lover and his new bride.’ — The Vintagent



Monte Hellman Two Lane Blacktop (1971)
‘Two-Lane Blacktop is a 1971 road movie directed by Monte Hellman, starring singer-songwriter James Taylor, the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird, and Harry Dean Stanton. Esquire magazine declared the film its movie of the year for 1971, and even published the entire screenplay in its April 1971 issue, but the film was not a commercial success. The film has since become a cult classic. Two-Lane Blacktop is notable as a time capsule film of U.S. Route 66 during the pre-Interstate Highway era, and for its stark footage and minimal dialogue. As such, it has become popular with fans of Route 66. Two-Lane Blacktop has been compared to similar road movies with an existentialist message from the era, such as Vanishing Point, Easy Rider, and Electra Glide in Blue.’ — collaged



John Milius Dillinger (1973)
‘I wanted to make a movie about Dillinger because of all the outlaws, he was the most marvelous. I look at it today and I find it very crude, but I do find it immensely ambitious. We didn’t have a lot of money, or time, and we didn’t have such things – we only had so many feet of track, stuff like that. So I couldn’t do moving shots if they involved more than, what, six yards of track. We never had any kind of crane or anything. That’s the way movies were made then.’ — John Milius, 2003



Monte Hellman Cockfighter (1974)
‘Director Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter is adapted from the novel by Charles Willeford, with the author also adapting the screenplay. It has the feel of the real thing, as it was shot on authentic Southern locations and explores with eyes wide open the lure of the subculture of the notorious but popular illegal sports business. Néstor Almendros does a beautiful job in filming, and the realistic flavor is further induced by the cockfighters being the real participants in the sport. Underneath that study the film bristles with a compelling psychological tale about repression, where competitiveness becomes a substitute for sex. This is a blood and guts art film with unforgettable intensity and stark scenes that few films have managed to capture with such fervor. It’s an obscure film highly thought of as a cult favorite, but largely neglected by the public.’ — Dennis Schwartz, Ozus

The entire movie


Arthur Penn The Missouri Breaks (1976)
The Missouri Breaks (1976) is not your usual Western. In fact, it’s not your usual anything. The words most commonly used in reviews at the time of its release were “bizarre” and “odd” and it must have equally confused audiences expecting something quite different from the inspired teaming of Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. But seen today, the film’s peculiar mixture of Western cliches, black comedy, quirky romance and revenge drama makes for a decidedly offbeat entertainment. While most critics were particularly unkind to the film when it opened, British writer Tom Milne was one of the few to assess the film’s true quality: “It’s one of the few truly major Westerns of the ’70s, with a very clear vision of the historical role played by fear and violence in the taming of the wilderness.”‘ — TCM



John Huston Wise Blood (1979)
‘A prolific writer of short stories and essays, and a traveling lecturer on both the art of writing and her own Catholic faith, Flannery O’Connor published only one more novel before her death in 1964, at the age of 39. Short listed even in life as a practitioner of “Southern Gothic,” O’Connor preferred her own label of “Christian realism.” In an essay published posthumously in 1969, the author opined that “anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” When fledgling screenwriters Benedict and Michael Fitzgerald were stonewalled while peddling their own scripts in Hollywood in the late 1970s, they turned to an almost forgotten family asset – their old babysitter Flannery O’Connor. Following O’Connor’s death in 1964, their father Robert had been named her literary executor. The principal photography for Wise Blood began in January 1979, in and around Macon, Georgia, with John Huston directing and various members of both the Huston and Fitzgerald families filling out the 25-person crew. Wise Blood also marked a dynamic pre-rediscovery performance by Harry Dean Stanton, whose smaller role in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) got him more attention that same year.’ — collaged



Ridley Scott Alien (1979)
‘Harry Dean Stanton as Brett, the Engineering Technician. Stanton’s first words to Ridley Scott during his audition were “I don’t like sci fi or monster movies.” Scott was amused and convinced Stanton to take the role after reassuring him that Alien would actually be a thriller more akin to Ten Little Indians. Film critic Roger Ebert notes that the actors in Alien were older than was typical in thriller films at the time, which helped make the characters more convincing: None of them were particularly young. Tom Skerritt, the captain, was 46, Hurt was 39 but looked older, Holm was 48, Harry Dean Stanton was 53, Yaphet Kotto was 42, and only Veronica Cartwright at 29 and Weaver at 30 were in the age range of the usual thriller cast. Many recent action pictures have improbably young actors cast as key roles or sidekicks, but by skewing older, Alien achieves a certain texture without even making a point of it: These are not adventurers but workers, hired by a company to return 20 million tons of ore to Earth.’ — collaged

Extended scene


Bertrand Tavernier La Mort en direct (1980)
‘Director Bertrand Tavernier provides an unexpected feminist slant to the otherwise standard sci-fi trappings of Death Watch. Harvey Keitel plays a man of the future who has had a camera implanted in his brain. The mechanism, which is endowed with special X-ray properties, is activated by the user’s eyes. Keitel is assigned by ruthless TV producer Harry Dean Stanton to secretly probe the subconscious of a dying woman, played by Romy Schneider. Stanton is only interested in the grim spectacle of what goes on inside the brain of someone who knows she’s doomed. Keitel, on the other hand, becomes increasingly compassionate–and disgusted by the tawdriness of his assignment–as he stares into Schneider’s tortured psyche.’ — Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bertrand Tavernier à propos de “La mort en direct”


John Carpenter Escape from New York (1981)
Escape From New York is a very dark and moody film. There isn’t much optimism for the world and the main protagonist is a cold and uncaring anti-hero. This is established early on when Snake simply ignores a woman being assaulted by two NY inmates. Snake’s philosophy can be summed up simply: if it doesn’t effect him personally, he doesn’t give a shit. Kurt Russell is immense as the tough badass, it’s a role I can’t imagine anyone else playing, except maybe one of the inspirations for the character, Clint Eastwood. Snake Plissken is possibly the quintessential anti-hero. He’s tough, he has no respect for authority and he will shoot first and ask questions later. The film is stacked with strong performances, whether it’s Lee van Cleef as the former war hero turned police commissioner Bob Hauk, Harry Dean Stanton as the smug and arrogant “Brain”, Ernest Borgnine as the happy go lucky “Cabbie” or Isaac Hayes as the Duke of New York (he’s A#1). Female’s are thin on the ground but Adrienne Barbeau is smoking hot and deadly as Maggie, she is no shrinking violet or damsel in distress.’ — DoctorStrangeSF



Wim Wenders Paris, Texas (1984)
‘The plot of Paris, Texas is disarmingly simple, focusing on the dramatic after-effects of a marriage’s breakdown on young Hunter (played by Hunter Carson, son of writer L. M. Kit Carson and actress Karen Black); his father, Travis (a name that still had sinister resonance eight years after Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and played with shell-shocked intensity by Harry Dean Stanton); and his mother, Jane, a plain name almost willfully ill suited to the fragile, feral character embodied in the film by Nastassja Kinski. Travis is found wandering in the desert by his brother, Walt (Dean Stockwell), is reunited with Hunter, sets off with Hunter to find Jane, finds her, and disappears again. That’s about it. What turns this fairly ordinary-sounding family drama into something on the edge of epic is its use of landscape and setting—the desert Southwest, California’s San Fernando Valley (also the setting for Wenders’s 1997 The End of Violence), and the concrete canyons of Houston—reinforced by the stunning cinematography of regular early collaborator Robby Müller and a plangent slide-guitar score by Ry Cooder.’ — Nick Roddick, The Criterion Collection





Alex Cox Repo Man (1984)
‘A quintessential cult film of the 1980s, Alex Cox’s singular sci-fi comedy stars the always captivating Harry Dean Stanton as a weathered repo man in a desolate Los Angeles, and Emilio Estevez as the nihilistic middle-class punk he takes under his wing. The job becomes more than either of them bargained for when they get involved in repossessing a mysterious—and otherworldly—Chevy Malibu with a hefty reward attached to it. Featuring the ultimate early eighties L.A. punk soundtrack, this grungily hilarious odyssey is also a politically trenchant take on President Reagan’s domestic and foreign policies. Arguably the defining cult film of the Reagan era, the feature debut of Alex Cox (Sid & Nancy, Walker, Straight to Hell) is a genre-busting mash-up of atomic-age science fiction, post-punk anarchism, and conspiracy paranoia, all shot through with heavy doses of deadpan humour and offbeat philosophy.’ — DVD Beaver




Robert Altman Fool for Love (1985)
‘I’ll come right out and say that the general consensus of Fool For Love is that it’s bad. Not terrible, just bad. When a film revolves around people exchanging dialogue for the entire film… they will tend to overact. In Fool For Love, there are two people who overact. Kim Basinger yells and screams the entire film. I cannot stand to see this in films, because the truth is nobody express themselves so audaciously. Sam Shepard has the same problem, in fact, he may even have a bigger problem with overacting in Fool For Love. This was fairly shocking since Sam Shepard and Kim Basinger are both great actors. There are also two good performances in Fool For Love. The first belongs to Harry Dean Stanton, who is quite good at the beginning slips a little in the end of the film when he joins Kim Basinger and Sam Shepard on the island of people who overact. Harry Dean Stanton’s character is an alcoholic old man, so perhaps the alcohol in his bloodstream could be to blame for his overacting at the end of the film.’ — Every Robert Altman Movie



John Hughes Pretty in Pink (1986)
‘John Hughes crafts an exemplary ’80s Brat Pack romance out of the standard Cinderella story in Pretty in Pink. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a teenager who lives in the dingy part of town with her terminally underemployed dad (Harry Dean Stanton). She works at a record store with eccentric Ionia (Annie Potts) and is considered a misfit at her uppity high school, but somehow she rises above them all. Her oddball best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer), is hopelessly in love with her, so he causes trouble for her romantic pursuits. When local rich kid Blaine (Andrew McCarthy) develops a fascination with her, they go out on a date together. Visiting the home bases of each social clique, they are basically ridiculed for their audacity to date one another. When Blaine eventually asks the delighted Andie to the prom, he is threatened by his rich friend Steff (James Spader). The romance versus high school social politics finally culminates at the big night of the prom.’  — Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi



David Lynch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
‘Easily among the most confounding broadcast-to-big screen translations ever produced, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me completely capsized both in terms of critical and audience reception at the time of its 1992 release. To be fair, a good deal of the once large, built-in, tv fan base for the film had already fallen away during the final season of the show. Personally, I recall seeing the film on opening night at a small town, local theater with somewhere around seven other people in attendance; the film was dead upon arrival and limped out of town shortly thereafter. The reviews were brutal. The late Vincent Canby wrote that it was “not the worst film ever made; it just seems to be.” Peter Travers declared that “the impulse in the arts to build idols and smash them has found another victim in David Lynch.” My own reaction was a fairly muted response; I liked the parts I liked and remained curious about the other stuff, but it’s a film that’s difficult to be enthusiastic about on a first viewing. Time has been kind to FWWM and, unsurprisingly, given Lynch’s growing reputation as our nation’s chief surrealist, a cult audience has been erected around the film after its release on home video.’ — The Rain Falls Down on Portlandtown




David Lynch The Straight Story (1999)
‘What hasn’t been mentioned is this movie’s biggest flaw IMHO, the casting of Harry Dean Stanton as Alvin Straight’s brother. The entire film has been journeying towards the meeting with Lyle Straight, so it really takes you aback when the person to shamble out of the shack is not “Lyle Straight”, but actor Harry Dean Stanton. Stanton looks NOTHING like Richard Farnsworth — he’s dark and swarthy to Farnsworth’s ruddy and snow-haired. Lyle also doesn’t look anywhere near Alvin’s age (though surprisingly Stanton was born only 6 years after Farnsworth, in 1926). Lynch loves to re-use a stable of actors, and since no other major roles use his favorite actors, perhaps he felt he needed to make up for it by casting Stanton. I think it was a major mistake, however, since it wrenches the viewer out of the world of the movie at the worst time. Just a theory, but I bet if Jack Nance (may he rest in peace) had still been alive, Lynch would have cast him as Lyle Straight. Nance appeared in all of Lynch’s films until his death, and would have been able to pull off the role even better than Stanton, and had the advantage of looking MUCH more like Farnsworth. It’s truly a shame he wasn’t given that opportunity.’ — Dan Harkless, imdB



Gore Verbinski Rango (2011)
‘Harry Dean Stanton and Johnny Depp are no strangers to odd movies. Stanton was practically mute during his entire star turn in Paris, Texas, and Depp has managed, among many magic acts, to be lovable while joyfully eviscerating innocents on Fleet Street in Sweeney Todd. So it’s saying something that Stanton turned to Depp during the filming of their most recent film and … well, let Johnny tell it. “Harry says to me” — here Depp adopts the accented whisper of his fellow Kentuckian — ” ‘Hey man, this is a really weird gig, isn’t it?’ ” Weirder still is the fact that the gig wasn’t even a live-action movie but rather the animated feature Rango.— Marco R. della Cava



Joss Whedon The Avengers (2012)
‘He may have made his name in some slightly more obscure/cult movies, but fans of cinema in general should be no stranger to Harry Dean Stanton. The 86 year old actor has appeared in such classics as Alien, Cool Hand Luke, Repo Man and Paris Texas to name but a few. And now he has a small, but very cool and funny cameo in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Stanton plays a security guard who converses with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) after his slightly greener, angrier alter ego crashes to Earth. It’s a great scene, and was originally quite a bit longer but had to be trimmed down. In an interview with Badass Digest Whedon explains why this little one on one was necessary for the character of Bruce Banner, and why Stanton was the perfect man for the job. “I sort of got him stuck in my head and I was like who is more accepting than Harry Dean Stanton? And, so I got to write this weird little scene – which when I wrote it was not little, it was about 12 pages long. I was like oh, this is great, Banner falls into a Coen Brothers movie! The fact that they even let me keep that concept and that we actually landed Harry Dean to play it was very exciting. But the idea was to put [Banner] in a slightly surreal situation with somebody who clearly had no problem with [The Hulk], just to make that little transition without milking it too much. And besides, to work with Harry Dean and to quiz him about Alien and The Missouri Breaks? What a privilege.”‘ —

Deleted scene


Sophie Huber Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012)
‘Lensed in colour and b/w by Seamus McGarvey, the film explores Harry Dean Stanton’s enigmatic outlook on his life and his unexploited talents as a musician. “Putting the focus on the music rather than his person helped to engage him and capture a part of him that few people have seen. We wanted to create an atmosphere that is true to Harry, moving along with him, in his mind, at his pace, rather than to follow a linear or biographical order” (Sophie Huber, director). With excerpts from Alien, Paris Texas, The Straight Story, Missouri Breaks et al., and interviews with David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry.’ — SXSW


Harry Dean Stanton and Sophie Huber discuss ‘Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction’


Martin McDonagh Seven Psychopaths (2012)
‘Besides Farrell, McDonagh had previously worked with the majority of the cast. In 2010 McDonagh directed Rockwell and Walken in his play “A Behanding in Spokane” and had met Harrelson, Cornish, and Kurylenko prior to “Seven Psychopaths.” However, McDonagh had one more top casting choice he wasn’t certain he could get—Harry Dean Stanton. “Like Walken and Waits, [Stanton’s] been a hero of mine since childhood. I told the casting person [Sarah Finn] that he was my dream choice for the role,” McDonagh said to the San Diego Reader. McDonagh recalled that Stanton was hesitant at first when he heard about the violence of the film. “When I told him he’d play a Quaker and the whole film is kind of a Buddhist take on Hollywood violence he said, ‘I’m into Eastern philosophies. Sure. I’ll do it,’ ” McDonagh said.’ — Backstage



John Carroll Lynch Lucky (2017)
‘Here is the heartrending almost-final movie performance from the then 90-year-old Harry Dean Stanton. (He actually had one more film in him after this before he died, playing a sheriff in the yet to be released Frank and Ava, about Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner; and he was also in David Lynch’s new Twin Peaks on television.) Melancholy and faintly surreal, it’s very nearly a kind of filmic one-man-show.

‘He plays a wizened old guy, perhaps a spin on his character from Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas – cantankerous and ornery, living all on his own, but doggedly doing his exercises every morning in his longjohns, hanging out grumpily in a local coffee shop during the day, and watching soaps at home, smoking a pack of American Spirits a day. His name is Lucky (the opening credits punningly announce: “Harry Dean Stanton is Lucky”), and it would have been interesting to see him play the character of that name in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.’ — The Guardian




David Lynch Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
‘Episode six of The Return featured one of the most moving – and shocking – sequences that David Lynch has ever created. On a quiet, sunny day in Twin Peaks, Stanton’s elderly trailer park owner Carl is sitting serenely on a park bench, enjoying the tranquillity.

‘A mother and her young son pass by, and Carl shares a smile with the pair as they play a simple game together. Then, moments later, the boy heads out into the road – only to be struck and instantly killed by the truck of detestable local thug Richard Horne, who promptly flees the scene.

‘The mother’s shrieks are haunting. But the power of the scene lies with Stanton’s Carl; the one person who steps forward from the crowd of onlookers to comfort her. As Stanton silently locks sorrowful eyes with the grieving woman, it’s arguably the most powerful moment of human connection we’ve seen in the entire series. And it’s all conveyed without words.

‘Carl’s entire role in the new Twin Peaks has largely been as a quiet, melancholy observer. A witness to terrible events. His very last scene in the season saw Stanton’s sad, world-weary eyes dwell on the boarded up windows of Steven and Becky’s trailer. Hinting at horrors inside.’ —





p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Jim Fouratt knew everybody or at least gave that impression. The kind of guy where I’d say I liked someone’s work, and he’d say, ‘I’ll introduce you’, and he usually did. One time I told him I’d had a big crush on Richard Lloyd of Television, and Jim literally tried to set us (unsuccessfully) on a date. Quite a character, and still is. ‘Lenny’s Tune’ is my favorite Tim Hardin song. His rendition is so much better than hers, IMO. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Well, yesterday the prime minister said there is a slight improvement and that maybe just maybe France will reopen a little for Xmas, but I (and everyone else) don’t believe it. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, Corey! I’ve been wondering how and where you were. Man, I’m so very, very sorry about your dad. I hope his life is as long as it is pleasurable for all of you. Very good that you’re there, obviously. It’s weird where and how wisdom accrues, but yeah. It’s kind of a relentless thing. Big hopes on the job hunt back home. I was just watching a newscast thing from Tel Aviv, and I realised it’s the first time I’ve ever actually seen what the city looks like. It looks like … a big city. I don’t know what else I expected. Weird how one exoticizes the unknown. Thanks for the link to that album. I’ll absorb it. Very good to see you, sir! ** Steve Erickson, Actually, there’s a new music gig post coming on Monday. I haven’t really found my new music search hampered, but I search in unusual realms, I guess. Everywhere I usually look is still very active. The death of TinyMixTapes is an ongoing loss though. Have you seen the Julien Temple Pogues doc? I’m curious, no surprise. He seems like he could be a generally interesting interviewee. You guys in NYC seem to be inching in our direction, yeah, but I can’t imagine the govt. permission forms thing will ever be seriously considered there much less could take. ** Armando, Hi. No, I’m feeling about the same, which is better than feeling worse certainly. I have no ideas what’s up. It feels like a cold or something. It’s only ominous because of the context. Yeah, I went to a private boys-only school that was completely anti-creativity. No art classes or writing classes or even wood shop. My gang and I were the school’s arty guys. Most of them have disappeared into the world, and I don’t know what became of them. One of my best friends was a guitarist/singer named John Mayer. When the famous John Mayer appeared, I thought he might be my friend’s son, but he isn’t. Another friend (George Miles’ old brother) was a bass player and he eded up being a dentist. Another guitarist/songwriter friend wound up managing a sporting goods store. I have no memory of other old posts about Nico, and they’re aren’t in the archives, but there’s a bunch of the archives that I haven’t uploaded yet, so I guess it’s possible. Thanks about my poems. I’m not a huge DeLillo fan, but, yeah, that’s a nice passage. Maddening times indeed! Plans for today? Stay not sicker. Setting up a future Zoom meeting with a person/organisation who/that looks very likely to be the co-producer of Zac’s and my new film. Ideally a meeting that cements that, which will be a huge step if it happens. That should be it, today-wise. You? ** Right. The other day for whatever reason I thought about the late and lovable Harry Dean Stanton and decided to go check out what films he had appeared in over the long course of his career, and one thing lead to another resulting in a post. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Harry Dean Stantois a such a remarkabe cinematic creature. From the outside he suggests a certain level of character actor. But just beneath it he has enormous depths that emerge in the most unexpected ways. I love his performance as Frederick Forrest’s best friend in Coppoloa’s grievouly underrated “One From the Heart.” And I adore him in Huston’s masterful adaptation of “Wise Blood” particularly his scenes with the lovely Dan Schor (who is high o my list of Great Male Cinematic Beauties along with Peter Beard, Alain Delon and Tony Bill)

    Jim Fouratt is quite a character. He was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front, and he has marvelous stroeies to tell about working with the great insane Jean Arthur in “The Freaking Out of Stephanie Blake” — her doomed theatrical swan song.

  2. Bzzt

    Hey Dennis, good morning, it’s Quinn here. How’s it going? How’s everything in Paris? Have you been officially herded back into quarantine? We haven’t gone under lockdown yet in New York but Chicago will go under starting Monday. If New York shuts down then my boyfriend & I will probably skip town and head to my mom’s house back in CT. It’s definitely a strange time to be 25; I wish I could go out to a nightclub and kiss all the boys and dance until sunrise. I kind of rode a second wave of grief this week with my dad, and also just felt out of touch with my own sense of identity…Today though for some reason my mood is back to normal, and I’m feeling very hopeful. Actually on Tuesday I interviewed the writer Brontez Purnell for a piece coming out in the spring promoting his forthcoming novel. Have you read his work? I really dug his new book. Otherwise I’m trying to work on a new short story, hoping to cobble together an MFA app but it’s not clear if that will happen in time.
    I’d like to ask you for a favor. I left a comment on your blog which dates August 7th, 2020, and I used the full name of someone. Now the named person is asking me to remove the comment. Would you be able & willing to delete it? Thanks in advance and I apologize for any inconvenience this puts you at. I’d also be happy to elaborate on the situation privately via Facebook or something; I don’t necessarily think the comment is controversial, but I suppose I should be more discrete when I write comments on this blog.
    Thanks for the post today. I like what Harry Dean Stanton said about directors being obsessed with control & how it’s a red flag. A college professor once recommended Paris, Texas and so I’ve been meaning to see it for a while. Cool Hand Luke too, I think Paul Newman is really hot. My friend passed me his Criterion Collection login so I’ll see if it’s on there, do you have Criterion? I’ve been into it so far, we just watched A Special Day with Sophia Loren, which I really loved but my boyfriend didn’t care for as much. Do you enjoy Italian film?
    Have a great weekend Dennis! Hope you’re keeping healthy & sane.

  3. _Black_Acrylic

    This is a great HDS showcase that brings home just how few of the great man’s films I’ve actually seen. My dad is obsessed with Paris, Texas and I should really get around to watching that soon.

    Today I’ve been basking in the afterglow of some rare Scottish footballing success! Last night they beat Serbia on pens to qualify for the European Championships, and this clip shows the team dancing round their changing room to the strains of Yes Sir I Can Boogie. Ah, it’s nice to appreciate joy where we can find it.

  4. Tosh Berman

    Dennis, I have a quick and sort of a practical question: When you write your film scripts do you use a writing program like “Final Draft.” I’m working on a screenplay at the moment, and I have been told by a professional that I have to use “Final Draft,” which is expensive (for me) but seems to be the standard in American film industry. I wonder if that is the same in France, or have that issue came up to you in the past/present? I have to make a decision if I need to buy this or not.

  5. Brian O’Connell

    Hi, Dennis,

    Happy Friday the 13th. It’s been a wonderful week of posts on here in general (the fan fiction interview!), but I’m especially glad to see Harry Dean Stanton get a day. I’ve only seen him in “Paris, Texas” and “Pretty in Pink”, but the performance in the former was enough to sell me on him entirely (and the whole film just blew me away). “Repo Man” is one of my dad’s favorite films; I keep meaning to watch it with him. And I want to see “Wise Blood” and “Two-Lane Blacktop” too. Soon, for sure. If you have any thoughts on any of those I’d love to hear them.

    How go things in France? That’s tremendously exciting about the co-producer meeting, if nothing else. Over here we’re looking down the barrel of an imminent outbreak, which’ll probably put us in a similar situation to you. So we’re simply starting to occupy ourselves with Christmas preparations, out of lack of anything else to do. And my brother and I finished watching “Evangelion”, which was as amazing as it had been hyped up to be, etc. etc. etc. I don’t know, there really isn’t anything worth reporting. Everything feels really dull and claustrophobic. I guess I hope the weekend brings better things for both you and I.

  6. Bill

    Obviously I’ve only seen a small fraction of Stanton’s filmography. And he’s such a chameleon, I didn’t even realize he was in Repo Man for instance. Lots of catching up to do.

    Glad the Rennes trip went well, and sorry to hear you’re back in lockdown. Our numbers are not pretty here either. I suppose I should try to get to SF MOMA before it recloses.


  7. Jessica

    Thank for this entry Dennis. You might find this interesting or perhaps it’s no new info. I met Harry Dean at a private club bartending. (On the Rox) Rod Stewart 1 of the other 50 members referred to it as a morgue. When Harry wasn’t making a movie he was the lone regular denizen drinking or smoking skunk blunts. He would bring me little gifts, a purple beret, THE TAO OF POOH. Maybe it was an explanation for his quiet. We listened to music or he would play my classical guitar that I brought for all the off nights. He sang the saddest most passionate Mexican folk songs. I would try to sing the choruses but mostly we just sat side by side at the bar night after night. I remembered a book I had read as a child about communing in silence ~ WATERSHIP DOWNS. There was one raucous night when Jim Harrison came into town and they wanted to party. I called up my BF Audrey to come over and looked for coke but couldn’t find any. I recited a “poem” my friend Audrey and I had written called LICK ME WHERE IT STINKS. They laughed and were very entertained. I should have gone out with Harry when he asked but I was too young. I wanted to talk.

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