“The Man with No Name” started as a studio invention to sell a trilogy — three spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood, directed by Sergio Leone — but the character became a legend. It was a role that brought Eastwood to fame, making him an icon of American masculinity. Eastwood’s portrayal brought a morally ambiguous hero to the big screen for the first time in the genre — a soft-spoken tough guy who was an outsider and loner, but thought nothing of shooting first and asking questions later.
We learn more about the man behind the gun in this 1977 BBC documentary, presented by Iain Johnstone, which features interviews with Eastwood (in his backyard, petting a freaking deer). Director Leone also makes an appearance, discussing the casting of Eastwood’s character. Leone initially wanted James Coburn for the role — he later directed the actor in films like Duck, You Sucker! — but the budget for A Fistful of Dollars (the first film in the trilogy) didn’t cut it.
Leone says he saw the Man with No Name as a purely physical figure, and was drawn to Eastwood’s “indolent way of moving.” For Leone, Eastwood resembled a cat. There are a few great moments in this hour-long doc, which we first spotted on Dangerous Minds. Throw on some Morricone, and dig in for a look at the strong, silent man behind one of cinema’s greatest characters.
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