Harry Dean Stanton: 10 Essential Movies

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

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'Escape From New York' (1981)

In an everyday setting, Stanton's character in John Carpenter's sci-fi/action classic might pass for a grizzled sad sack down on his luck or a Skid Row washout; put the man in a postapocalyptic Manhattan that's been turned into a free-for-all maximum-security prison, however, and you'll see he's in completely in his natural habitat. They call him "Brain" for a reason, because you don't work your way to the top of the heap alongside "the Duke" without serious street smarts; still, he'll help an old buddy like Snake Plissken out. Stanton's hangdog presence adds an extra layer of seediness to the dystopic affair, but it's a testament to the actor that what could have been a rumpled, one-note supporting turn becomes a fully fleshed-out wartime consigliere. And damned if he and Adrienne Barbeau don't look good together. DF

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