From the Vaults: Harry Dean Stanton – Partly Musician
That face makes an impression. Over the decades, Harry Dean Stanton has peered out at us from more than 200 movies and vintage TV shows. It’s a face the camera loves, a face with more crags than the Grand Canyon.
Harry Dean Stanton has generally let his work speak for itself. The actor has been notably reluctant to talk about himself – especially in the way that seems to be second nature for the Hollywood crowd. So it’s a wonder that Sophie Huber managed to capture the man in her documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, which opened yesterday at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane and made its U.S. premiere last March at the SXSW Film Festival.
Although Partly Fiction provides an intimate portrait of the laconic and enigmatic actor, it is largely impressionistic and idiosyncratic. It’s also shot in color and black and white, and includes remarks from such friends and colleagues as David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, and Debbie Harry. What’s likely to stick with you the most, however, is Stanton’s singing. Throughout the film he performs haunting renditions of a great many fold songs and American standards.
Prior to SXSW, Shawn Badgley spoke with the filmmaker Sophie Huber, who is a longtime friend of the actor. Describing her documentary In “Harry Dean Stanton’s Long Ride Into the Whirlwind“: It was clear to me that I didn't want to make a talking heads documentary. I wanted Harry to be the leading man, and I wanted to make his philosophy and state of mind palpable to create the kind of atmosphere that he exudes in person: a certain sense of peace and calm, at least when he is in a good mood. His main philosophy is to be in the present moment.” Marc Savlov’s four-star review of Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is linked to here.