Right at the end of Lucky, Harry Dean Stanton’s last, and for many the best, film role just before he died the actor turns to camera and gives a cheeky grin before striding off into the sunset. Did he know his time was soon coming?
Stanton, who died on September 15 last year, aged 91, was a character actor, singer and musician whose film career spanned more than sixty years. Some will remember him as one of the doomed crew of the spaceship Nostromo in Alien, 1970, and some as the spirited old lag in the fantasy prison movie The Green Mile in 1999. Others may recall Stanton’s more substantial role in Repo Man, 1984, as the repossession senior teaching the new rookie the ropes, or his starring role, also 1984 as the damaged amnesiac walking out of the desert to unite with his brother, son, and former wife in Paris, Texas.
It was more than thirty years later, in 2016 that Stanton deservedly got the starring role for Lucky, playing Lucky, a cantankerous 90 year-old curmudgeon who is fiercely independent and loves his life of crossword puzzles, drinking and smoking in the Arizona desert town where he spends his days. For all his tough outer skin Lucky is afraid of dying and vulnerable and Stanton revels in his swansong role with a relish that begs the question, “is he acting?” He is also blessed with some great support from the likes of Tom Skerritt, the captain of the Nostromo in Alien, Beth Grant, Ed Begley Jr, Ron Livinston, film director David Lynch in an unusual acting role and fellow character actor John Carroll Lynch making his film directing debut.
Lucky is being released in UK and Ireland cinemas, and on demand from September 14 by Eureka Entertainment. It has been described as “at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality and human connection” and as a bonus Stanton sings in the screenplay and performs the Western love song Red River Valley hauntingly on harmonica on the soundtrack. Go get the man at his peak.