Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

From 'Alien' to 'Twin Peaks' – our picks for the late character actor's greatest onscreen moments

'Cool Hand Luke' (1967)

In addition to kicking around Hollywood and picking up bit parts in Westerns and TV shows, Stanton spent his early professional years as a musician; he'd spent time with a male chorus and fit right in with the post-beatnik troubadour scene. And as one of the inmates surrounding Paul Newman's blue-eyed chain-gang Jesus, he got the chance to show off his soulful voice. That's him, looking comparatively baby-faced at age 41, singing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," as Luke says goodbye to his dying mother. Watch how Stuart Rosenberg slowly zooms into Stanton's face as he warbles "if I fall, Dear Lord, who cares?" You can already tell the camera loves him – and that there's something bigger in his future than just background cowpokes and convicts. DF