Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Man with No Name

Well, this is it, the end of the line of our hero parade. Number 366, and the last in the line. Last in line, but very close to being my number one hero of all time is the hard bitten fellow above. No, not Clint Eastwood, we have already had him as a hero, but the character he is portraying in the above picture. He is "The Man with No Name" but, he does get called three different names in the Dollars Trilogy. First, he is "Joe" then he becomes "Manco" and finally "Blondie." I suppose you can say that he was "born" in 1964, since that was the year "A Fistful of Dollars" was released, but he doesn't really need to have a birthday.

He is not your "white hat" type of cowboy hero, he is not going to save the day, unless saving the day does something for him. He lies, cheats, steals, and kills on his own terms, and while he does do the occasional act of kindness for no reward (such as sharing his cigar with the dying solider in the scene that he obtains the famous green poncho), he is usually morally ambiguous, and he could do with a good shave. Eastwood himself helped to create the visual image of No Name, he bought the black jeans from a shop on Hollywood Boulevard, then had them bleached out, and roughened up a bit. The hat came from a shop in Santa Monica, and the trademark cigars came from a store in Beverly Hills. The cigars are the classical touch, and Eastwood claims they put him in a "scratchy mood" that allowed him to play No Name so well (he was a non-smoker, and hated the smell of the cigar smoke, it also helped to contribute to his famous squint).

He is laconic to a fault, and that is a trait that I am actively pursuing. I have been attempting to be laconic at work for the past two days, and so far it seems to be working, it also seems to make people a bit mad, but what do I care? There is a lot to be said for not saying a lot, and I have even been told that recently I made someone cry with just a look. I am not proud of that fact, nor was it the effect I was going for, but maybe there is something to this whole laconic thing.

Eastwood himself said, about playing the character:

"I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.

And it works brilliantly, Eastwood took a lot of dialogue OUT of the screenplay, and thank goodness he did. You can't really picture No Name as anything but a man of precious few words. Of his past we learn precious little, unlike Tuco, we don't know if he has any family or not, we have no idea where he came from, or where he is going. We know that "he never found home that great", and we know he likes money, and will do a lot of shady things to make it, but he still has some sort of moral code that determines what lengths he will go to in order to get money. It is HIS moral code, he makes it, and he is probably the one person alive who knows its boundaries. And even more that his laconic-ness it is this trait that I am trying to emulate. I have spent a considerable amount of time in the last few days exploring/creating my OWN moral code, and while I am unsure if I have been very successful, I at least feel the need to try, and to keep trying. I need to define my code, to learn the boundaries of it, so I can figure out what kind of man I am.

He is independent, he calls his own shots, and while he may have partners from time to time, he is always looking out for "number one", and that is important to remember. Loyalty to others is a wonderful thing, but the first person you need to be loyal to is yourself. It must be a wonderful feeling, to be the master of his own destiny, not owing anybody, anything, and being free to walk away when he wants to. These are the traits that usually get him cited as being the prototypical anti-hero. I would suspect he is not the only anti-hero on this list, and that No Name and James Bond would get along like a house on fire. Perhaps it is the type that I am fond of, and I can't say that it is a bad thing. I like John Wayne and Roy Rogers and all, but they are just a little too "heroic" for me. I am a man of many flaws, and I need my hero to have them as well. Without those flaws, he would be too much like a cardboard cut out hero, I need my hero to exist in that grey area between right and wrong.

He doesn't say much, but you get the idea that what he says, he means, and you had probably pay attention to what he says. One line of speech from him is like a soliloquy from someone else. I saved him for last, because of the profound attraction that I have for many of his character traits. I am not skilled enough to "play" him with any conviction, but I am working on the squint, and using as few words as possible (at least while talking, writing is a different matter).

It is for those stirring performances in all three films, that I have made him my last hero of the day. There is unlikely to be another hero post anytime soon, and I wanted to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. I am quite proud of myself that I was able to finish this project, and even though the majority of the writing is dross, that should not be held against the 366 men and women that I picked out to be my heroes. Their heroic qualities should shine through my awful attempts at explaining them. I plucked them out of an extremely large group of people, each for his or her own reason, and sometimes in spite of other people's bad opinions of them. They are MY heroes, the 366 people that I would have dinner with, some more than others, but each one has a special place in my "heart." Not to sound too sappy, but I love them all. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

So to close the circle, for being in many ways the man I always wanted to be, The Man with No Name (1964-present) you are my (366th) hero of the day.


tideliar said...

Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

This blog has been fucking awesome.


The Grand Inquisitor said...

well thanks to you both. it was quite a task, but i hope someone liked it.

Lindsay said...

Excellent way to end the series. Dig the new style, too.

Uapa said...

A human hero :-)
I watched just the Sergio Leone films with him and his character is just perfect. He's good, but not "too good", something that made me not like many film/cartoon characters!
I wanted to type something more and also more interesting, but you already found all the words I was looking for to describe the man with no name :-D
Thank you :-)

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