Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Man with no Name

The Man with No Name (Italian: Uomo senza nome) is a stock character in western films, but the term usually applies specifically to the character (or possibly characters) played by American actor Clint Eastwood in what is often called "The Dollars Trilogy" (A Fistful of Dollars -1964, For a Few Dollars More -1965, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -1966) directed by Sergio Leone.

The "Man with No Name", as personified by Eastwood, embodies the archetypical characteristics of the American movie cowboy — toughness, exceptional physical strength or size, independence, and skill with a gun — but departed from the original archetype due to his moral ambiguity. Unlike the traditional cowboy, exemplified by actors John Wayne, Alan Ladd, and Randolph Scott, the Man with No Name will fight dirty and shoot first, if required by his own self-defined sense of justice. Although he tends to look for ways to benefit himself, he has, in a few cases, aided others if he feels an obligation to, such as freeing a couple held captive in A Fistful of Dollars and comforting a dying soldier after the bridge explosion in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

He is generally portrayed as an outsider, a mercenary or bounty hunter, or even an outlaw. He is characteristically soft-spoken and laconic. The character is an oft-cited example of an anti-hero, although he has a soft spot for people in deep trouble. While rescuing the young mother in A Fistful of Dollars, he responds to query about his motives with a curt "I knew somebody like you, once...and there was no one to help". This, along with the comment "I never found home that great", sums up the only personal history the viewer ever receives about the character.

The character's distinctive appearance consists of a battered brown hat with a telescope crown, pale blue shirt, black jeans, tan boots, a sheepskin vest, and a patterned sarape or "poncho". He is usually armed with one revolver with a silver rattlesnake on the grip, which is holstered on a gunbelt. In contrast with other Western heroes of the early- to mid-1960s, The Man is unshaven, almost to the point of sporting a full beard. He habitually smokes a cigarillo while working.

Due to budget considerations, Eastwood made the initial investment for his character's appearance and demeanour. Most of the clothing was purchased second-hand in California (with the exception of the sarape or poncho, which was provided by Leone); the gunbelt and holster were from Eastwood's previous TV series Rawhide. The Man's trademark cigars were also from California; their harshness put Eastwood in what he called a "scratchy mood", which aided in his characterization. The trademark squint was partly due to these cigarros, partly from Eastwood's allergy to horses.

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