How Clint Eastwood's iconic ''Man With No Name'' look captured American audiences

Cinematic history doesn't happen by accident.

The Everett Collection

What's in an image? Well, for decades when movie studios depended on posters to sell their films, an image was everything. They needed to describe, succinctly, what a movie promised — whether it was romance, horror, or full-throttle action. Many creative minds were employed to expertly craft each movie's marketable aesthetic. Some pioneered new paths, while others relied on past proven successes.

In the case of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, the film and its distributors had a few factors working for — and against — their interests. By the time the series reached American shores, it had already been a huge success in Italy, where each of the three movies was filmed. However, while A Fistful of Dollars dazzled European audiences, that same fact threatened to undermine its success in the United States. All movies produced in Italy at the time relied on dubbing. Sound wasn't recorded as the movie was filmed and was added later on in the production process. So, while American audiences were used to actor's lips matching up perfectly with the dialogue, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly all featured slightly off dubbing that could easily have put off their American audiences.

Luckily, these movies featured one of the most striking images in movie history, that of Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name." 

Instantly recognizable even in silhouette, this new character was everything a movie needed to draw viewers in. There was such a sense of mystery and cool around Eastwood that moviegoers couldn't help but part with their ticket money. So, how did the look come about? In 1974, 10 years after debuting the legendary look, Eastwood spoke with Playboy about developing the costume and its accessories.

"I went into Mattson's, a sport shop up on Hollywood Boulevard here, and bought some black Levis and bleached them out, roughed them up. The boots, spurs, and gun belts I had from Rawhide; the hat I got at a wardrobe place in Santa Monica." 

It was a look cobbled together from multiple sources, that somehow also integrated Eastwood's nascent history in the Western genre. The personal touches the actor added, especially in the character's accessories, fully fleshed out what could've been a one-note role.

"The little black cigars I bought in Beverly Hills," said Eastwood. "The poncho I got in Spain."

While most Halloween costume stores now carry something resembling The Man With No Name, the original outfit was an international affair, with elements from all over the place coming together to set Eastwood apart from the rest of the matinee gunslingers. 


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6 Comments

raddad 13 days ago
After reading about how he put his wardrobe together, I’m so glad that the airline didn’t lose his luggage! Can’t trust them today .
JMilburn 13 days ago
Clint Eastwood is THE GREATEST OF ALL-TIME. I grew up watching these Westerns with my Dad who was Clint's biggest fan and, like Clint, was a true "man's man"----A trait that now works against u in modern-day society. Every character Clint portrayed, whether it was the Westerns, Dirty Harry, whatever, intimidated and put in check everyone who tried to cross his path and get in his way. His characters were all always crossed because in spite of the tough-guy persona, he was always standing up for and fighting for what was right. There will always be only one and never be another Clint Eastwood. If u really sit and take in those Westerns,especially the Man With No Name trilogies, you can't help but just fall in love with not just his character, but all the elements about the way those movies were made--the music, the imagery, the storytelling, Clint's facial expressions and his persona, which for Clint, always spoke louder and said more to all his nemeses than anything he ever actually spoke by word of mouth. The final showdown in the original Fistful of Dollars is still my favorite scene in all of Clint's western history, and is my favorite movie of all his Westerns. The most underrated and overlooked of all of Clint's Westerns was Pale Rider--a fantastic movie and story with an awesome ending that was a throwback to the original Westerns of the 60's. Also, my two other personal favorites of Clint's Westerns are The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Joe Kidd---Joe Kidd being another very overlooked and forgotten Western, and guest stars a very young Robert Duvall in it as well. The guest stars were another very enjoyable aspect of Clint's Westerns--there were a lot of name actors who got some of their earliest acting work by starring in Clint's Westerns. If u go back and watch some of them today, you will see alot of people who will stand out that at the time were not necessarily names yet. For instance, Josey Wales stars a ton of people who were so young and unknown at the time but ended up having bigger careers later on. Clint's Westerns were all one-of-a-kind, and again, each character he played, he was the ultimate and quintessential guy--he was the face of that genre. The clothes, the stare, the face, the attitude, the values, and again,what he fought for and against, and represented---Clint was THE MAN'S MAN. In my opinion, only John Wayne can make the claim to be more of a legend for that genre than Clint Eastwood--but Clint was right up there with him--and for me personally, Clint is the GOAT for that genre, and for everything that came after that genre as well--in my opinion, the Dirty Harry character was born out of The Man With No Name character in the original Westerns of the 60's. It's as if that same character and what he represented was taken out of the Old West and transplanted to modern-day West Coast society in the 70's and 80's in the Dirty Harry series. I grew up watching all these movies with my father as a kid--but I also have a fond memory of going with my Dad to see the final movie of the Dirty Harry series in the theater when it came out in 1989--The Dead Pool--which by the way,guest-starred a very, very young Liam Neeson and Jim Carrey. But I still remember going to see that Dead Pool in the theater with my Dad at about 10 years old, and I remember the lead-up to the release of that movie that summer with the previews on TV of the remote control toy car, which at the time was so bad-ass, but that whole summer they would run the preview of the toy car rolling up underneath Clint's car and blowing it up with him and his partner inside, and of course they had already said ahead of time that The Dead Pool was going to be the final Dirty Harry, so u didnt know for sure at that time, based on the preview, if the character was going to survive this final time or not. But the preview was done so well, and having already grown up and seen and been such a fan of all the other movies, it made you, at 10 yrs old, just count down to the Saturday that your Dad promised to take you to the theater to see it! The fact that it was a badass remote control car and the putting the doubt out there that maybe the Dirty Harry character wasn't going to come out of the final installment in the series having survived made you just want to bust thru your TV screen to get in there to find out, and as i said, i had the Sat date circled on my calendar for when my Dad was going to take me to see it! Based on those previews that ran all summer long, I couldn't wait until that Sat and couldn't wait to get into that theater and see that last Dirty Harry film on the big screen! Again, at 10 years old, it was a bigger deal for me than had I been an adult--and it was also just a completely different time in America in 1988-1989---a simpler time---when summer vacations were true summer vacations, and the same for the winter holiday breaks. It was before Internet, before social media, before smart-phones, and before cell phones period! It was such a simple, innocent time, a completely different world than today. I was born in May 1980 but I was raised old-school so these past 10 yrs, I have witnessed cancel culture take away and destroy so many of the fun, enjoyable things that I was raised on and that made being a kid so much fun for me during the 80s and early 90s--i can't imagine being a kid in today's world--kids don't get to have a true childhood anymore in today's world......that's why I am so grateful to ME-TV for bringing back all the old cartoons to give the new gen of kids a chance to see the things on TV that my gen got to see and grow up with, along with the generations before me, and for giving big ol "grown up" kids like myself the opportunity to re-live at 45 yrs old the same cartoons that I grew up with and that made my childhood so special and so memorable. For me today watching these cartoons, it's like seeing them brand new for the first time all over again because this is the first time they have been shown on regular TV since they were regularly shown back in the 80s and early 90s. So thank u ME-TV, every day, for having brought all these wonderful childhood memories back for us overgrown children who never want to grow up to be able to watch and re-live all over again! In some ways, it's even more enjoyable this time because u appreciate the experience more after u are an adult. Because it's only then that u realize what a paradise childhood really was! And the new ME-TV TOON channel is a gift from heaven, and the best thing they have ever brought to us since first starting the TOON IN WITH ME show on weekday mornings and then the Sat morning cartoons. Now we have 24/7 around-the-clock cartoons--it dosnt get any better than that! And the fact they have brought that channel to the airwaves shows that im not the only overgrown kid who has enjoyed watching and re-living these cartoons again all these years later--even tho alot of times I feel like I am the only one!!! Thank u for allowing me to share my memories of both Clint Eastwood and the cartoons--i just lost my father to lung cancer the year of COVID--2020--and I was taking care of him and was with him every day for the last 2 yrs of his life all the way to his final breath, and so the last 4 years I have really gone thru a long process of reliving so many life memories I had with my Dad, esp the ones going back to childhood--over time, i have re-visited alot of childhood memories that i had not thought about in decades, or that had gotten lost in the memory bank as time moved on and I grew up and transitioned into adult life and into dealing with my own life problems. So this is why I am so grateful to ME-TV for everything they show every day, not just the cartoons, but all the old shows and programming they put on every day--they are keeping alive my parents' and grandparents' generation, and also my generation that I grew up in, as well as keeping alive all the memories I have of my Dad, and I am so grateful for that! My TV stays on ME-TV the majority of the time, and being able to see some of the things I have seen on there has been of great healing for me as I have dealt with the grieving process the last 4 yrs of losing my father. The network may not always realize how much some of the things they air mean to some of us out here--thats why I wanted to take a few mins to let them know how much it means to me. Whether it's Clint Eastwood, Ralph Kramden, Archie Bunker,Andy Griffith, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, or Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, and Woody Woodpecker, they all evoke special memories of some kind for me from my childhood and from my time with my father, and with my whole family! ME-TV is KING,and please DONT EVER CHANGE!!!!
tootsieg 13 days ago
Great article. Clint’s outfit is perfect for the “man with no name” and the Clint “squint” just adds to it.
Runeshaper 16 days ago
Clintwood had a really unique and cool outfit. Thanks for sharing the sotry of how he put it together, MeTV!
JHP 16 days ago
just love all of his flicks - westerns (so many lines in those westerns that make me chuckle) and every which way but loose and every which way you can

him and Chief Dan George ; in sneaking up on an Indian - Josey Wales
the black widows - in their hideout and Dan Quade giving a sermon (the one biker leaves the sermon to check on the brownies baking) - ("why me lord")
McGillahooala 16 days ago
I love those movies. Some of the best westerns out there.
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