Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas (dir. Wim Wenders, 1984)

Harry Dean Stanton has been a prominent presence in American cinema for sixty years. In the early days he haunted the margins of classic films like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II (1974) where we glimpse him playing pool, or sitting behind Frankie Pentangeli during an FBI hearing. He is unforgettable as the grumbling engineer in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), “right”? And it didn’t take long for this masterful character actor to find his way to the forefront. My favourite Stanton performance is his role as the lead in Wim Wenders’ 1984 film Paris, Texas. But there are also noteworthy appearances in several David Lynch projects: from Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fear Walk With Me (1992), to the ailing brother in The Straight Story (1999), to his appearance in the wilfully bizarre short film The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988). And that’s to say nothing of his work with directors like John Huston or Martin Scorsese. An impressive body of work. Happy birthday!

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Richard B. Woodward (The Paris Review) pays tribute to the Oscar-winning sound designer who helped create the otherworldly environments of David Lynch’s Eraserhead and Blue Velvet
Alan Splet
Alan Splet
“It’s too bad Ronnie Rocket never got made,” says Alan R. Splet about one of several David Lynch scripts still tied to Dino De Laurentiis’s bankruptcy. “There was lots of heavy electricity, amplified power in the script. It went back more toward the Eraserhead side of things. Maybe David feels he’s moved beyond that.”

Splet starts to laugh nervously, almost maniacally, as he recites all the kinds of electricity he could produce if called upon by Lynch. “There’s snapping, humming, buzzing, banging, like lightning, shrieking, squealing …”

As the sound engineer who has worked with Lynch since The Grandmother, their AFI student film completed in 1969, Splet saves up noises that he thinks his friend will like and sends them along on cassettes for Lynch to use or enjoy. (more…)