The Man With No Name (a.k.a. “Blondie”, “Joe”, “Manco”) is a character portrayed by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” of Spaghetti Western films: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
He is a great anti-hero. He’s a bounty hunter. A killer. He lies & cheats. He whores around. But he does have a moral compass and in ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ he’s considered “the good” guy.
In the old west, law and order were upheld by lawmen few and far between. Security was rather maintained by gunslingers armed to the teeth and an anti-hero like Eastwood’s character in the Dollars Trilogy fits right in.
He is the adumbration of the pop-culture version of the stoic, silent, slow-talking, fast-drawing, enigmatic lone gunman riding into town, taking on several men at once while wearing one or two pistols in low-slung hip holsters and, naturally, letting them draw first before instantly killing all of them.
He is recognizable due to his iconic poncho, brown hat, tan cowboy boots, fondness for cigarillos, and the fact that he rarely talks.
He will indulge in a drawn-out, climactic gunfight, standing opposite his opponent in the middle of a street for several minutes, each waiting for the other to make the first move. The ‘good guy’ lets the ‘bad guy’ draw first but still wins, naturally.
“The real West was the world of violence, fear, and brutal instincts,”
“In pursuit of profit there is no such thing as good and evil, generosity or deviousness; everything depends on chance, and not the best wins but the luckiest.”
– Sergio Leone reflecting on the real Wild West.
Although not Leone’s intention, the three films came to be considered a trilogy following the exploits of the same so-called “Man with No Name” (portrayed by Clint Eastwood, wearing the same clothes and acting with the same mannerisms). The “Man with No Name” concept was invented by the American distributor United Artists, looking for a strong angle to sell the films as a trilogy.
The movies are loaded with juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots that are Leone’s signum.
The great signature score was composed by frequent Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone, whose distinctive original compositions, containing gunfire, whistling, and yodeling permeate the three films.
The only actors to appear in all three films besides Eastwood are Mario Brega, Aldo Sambrell, Benito Stefanelli and Lorenzo Robledo. Four other actors each appear twice in the trilogy, playing different characters: Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté, Luigi Pistilli, and Joseph Egger.
“I think [the Leone films] changed the style, the approach to Westerns [in Hollywood]. … They made the violence and the shooting aspect a little more larger than life, and they had great music and new types of scores. … They were stories that hadn’t been used in other Westerns. They just had a look and a style that was a little different at the time: I don’t think any of them was a classic story—like [John Wayne’s 1956] The Searchers or something like that—they were more fragmented, episodic, following the central character through various little episodes.”
- Clint Eastwood reflecting on the impact of the films.
The three films are consistently listed among the best rated Western films in history.