Robert Wilke almost always played foul-tempered, sandpaper-voiced bad guys. He just had one of those faces. He’s probably best known as the High Noon “gunnie” whom Grace Kelly shot in the back during the final ten minutes. He also stood out as the loudmouth whom James Coburn killed with a fast flying knife in The Magnificent Seven.

In a career that spanned almost 50 years only once was Wilke called upon to show emotional vulnerability and anguish, and that was when he portrayed the conflicted farm foreman in Terrence Malick‘s Days of Heaven (’78). Only Malick saw a bit of depth in the man…only Malick asked him to step beyond the usual conventional shithead realms.

Wilke to Richard Gere (speaking about wealthy wheat farmer Sam Shepard): “I know what you’re doin'”…beat, beat…”that boy’s like a son to me.”

Wilke was a great amateur golfer.

Incidentally: Criterion’s 2010 Bluray of Days of Heaven has looked glorious from the get-go, and you’ll never convince me that the new 4K UHD version is going to look that much better on the 65″ Sony OLED. Maybe in subtle little ways but nothing that will lift me out of my seat. All the same there’s a little part of me that wants the damn thing anyway.