Wild Bill Hickok: A Wild West Original
Born James Butler Hickok, everyone remembers him as “Wild Bill.” Many consider him the first famous gunfighter of…
Clint Eastwood and Westerns have been a perfect match for more than fifty years. It all started with his portrayal of Rowdy Yates in the TV series Rawhide. The show ran for a total of 217 episodes from 1959 through 1966, with Eastwood starring in all of them. Clint continued his cowboy ways on the big screen with Sergio Leone’s so-called “Man with No Name Trilogy.” A series of films that set the standard for future Spaghetti Westerns (films produced in Italy and Spain) and began Eastwood’s rise to stardom.
The three films–A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)—make up the no-name trilogy. To be fair, Eastwood’s characters do have a name in each of the films. The first one, in which he’s called Joe, features an array of guns of the man with no name. He shoots a revolver, three rifles, a double-barreled shotgun, and mans a machine gun that wipes out an entire cavalry outfit. It’s set in the 1860s, and it’s vintage Eastwood as the anti-hero.
The plot is fairly uncomplicated. Eastwood plays a taciturn but deadly gunfighter who rides into a small border town that has been torn apart by two rival gangs: the Rojos and the Baxters. It doesn’t take long for the stranger to show off his speed and accuracy with a gun. He effortlessly shoots four Baxter men who had insulted him as he entered the town. He then offers his services to each gang, playing one against the other and getting rich in the process.
“You shoot to kill, you better hit the heart.” – Joe (Clint Eastwood)
There is a rather high body count in A Fistful of Dollars. The Rojos gang wipes out an entire company of Mexican soldiers on horse-back (and miraculously misses all the horses). Later, they brutally murder a dozen or so Baxters, including the matriarch, as they flee from a burning building. As mentioned, Joe kills four of the Baxters and almost single-handedly destroys the Rojos clan.
Here is a recap of the guns of the man with no name that were used to keep Piripero, the coffin-maker, busy throughout the film:
In the second installment of the Man with No Name trilogy, Eastwood plays the character Manco. He’s a bounty hunter chasing down a ruthless killer named El Indio for a dead-or-alive reward of $10,000. During the hunt, he meets another hunter, Colonel Douglas Mortimer (played by Lee Van Cleef), and the two form a partnership to kill or capture the outlaws and divide the reward money.
“Alive or dead? It’s your choice.” – Manco (Clint Eastwood)
This is another Sergio Leone movie with lots of dead bad guys (and a few dead innocents). While it’s true that you can’t put a price on life, the film shows that death is a different matter. The film ends with Manco driving his wagon into the distance loaded with the bodies of Indio and his gang members, heading out to collect $27,000 in bounty money for their remains.
There are a host of weapons in For a Few Dollars More, but one of them takes center stage. It’s a unique pistol with a controversial history.
In the last, and arguably the best, installment in the “No Name” trilogy, Clint Eastwood once again assumes the role of the reticent dark hero. While Blondie (Eastwood) represents Good in the film’s title, he doesn’t provide much contrast to Angel Eyes (the Bad bounty hunter) or Tuco (the Ugly Mexican bandit).
“Every gun makes its own tune.” -Blondie (Clint Eastwood)
During the Civil War, these three men become rivals to find two hundred thousand dollars in buried gold coins. Tuco and Blondie already know one another, having hatched a scheme to earn bounty money by capturing and freeing the bandit. Angle Eyes hears of the gold from someone he’s been hired to kill. The three meet up in a showdown in the middle of a major battle between Confederate and Union forces.
There are many casualties and enough weapons to fill several arsenals. Here are three guns of the man with no name that play a prominent role:
Sergio Leone’s trilogy of spaghetti Westerns turned Clint Eastwood into an international star. His portrayal of the Man of Few Words (with No Name) set the stage for many of his future characters. Yet the guns of the man with no name are plentiful throughout the trilogy.
The contrasts in the films are groundbreaking for the genre. Exaggerated violence amid beautiful background scenery and a cynical protagonist who is not much better than the brutal thugs he is up against. Yet, these films set a standard and opened the gates for a stream of westerns. Most of which failed to join Leone at the head of the class.
The trilogy stands alone at the top echelon of violence, style, and austerity. It isn’t likely to be eclipsed anytime soon.