Clint Eastwood as “The Man with No Name” in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka "the Man with No Name", in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka “the Man with No Name”, in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Vitals

Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka “the Man with No Name”, taciturn bounty hunter

New Mexico Territory, Spring 1862

Film: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
(Italian title: Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Release Date: December 23, 1966
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Carlo Simi

Background

Today marks the 90th birthday of screen legend Clint Eastwood, born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco. (Between John Wayne on May 26, James Stewart on May 20, and Gary Cooper on May 7, there must be something about being in born in May that positions an actor for stardom in the Western genre!)

After Eastwood’s initial success on the TV series Rawhide, he traveled to Italy to star in a trio of Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, firmly establishing the significance of the “spaghetti Western”. In A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Eastwood ostensibly played a variation of the same mysterious, laconic gunfighter alternately known as Joe, Manco, or Blondie, respectively, but immortalized in cinema as “the Man with No Name.”

Both A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More are excellent, but the third time was the charm with this final entry in Leone’s unofficial “Dollars trilogy”, proving the art of his craft between screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni’s shared vision with Leone, Carlo Simi’s genre-defining production and costume design, Tonino Delli Colli’s breathtaking cinematography, and Ennio Morricone’s sweeping and often haunting score. On the latter note, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly boasts one of the greatest soundtracks of all time from its famous title track through memorable tracks like “Il Forte (The Strong)”, “Fine Di Una Spia (Fine of a Spy)”, and “Il Triello (The Trio)” to the epic “L’estasi Dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold)” that became a standard of Metallica concerts and has even been featured in commercials for entities from Nike and Dolce & Gabbana to L.L. Bean and KFC.

Leone developed an unofficial troupe of cast and crew that followed through the trio, particularly the latter two as A Fistful of Dollars was essentially a Western-set adaptation of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Eastwood led the cast, which always included Mario Brega, Lorenzo Robledo, Aldo Sambrell, and Benito Stefanelli in various roles. Following his layered performance as the flawed but heroic Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More, Lee Van Cleef returned as a sinister mercenary killer who would be the “bad” to Eastwood’s “good”. Filling the role of “the ugly” was Eli Wallach in a memorably manic performance as the wily bandit Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, whose larceny kicks off our greed-driven adventure against the backdrop of the New Mexico Campaign during the early months of the American Civil War, reconstructed with the guidance of Matthew Brady’s celebrated wartime photography for added verisimilitude.

Despite lukewarm contemporary reception, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and its spaghetti Western predecessors have gained a remarkable reputation over the years not only as some of the greatest Westerns but, particularly in the case of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, among the best and most influential movies ever made.

What’d He Wear?

One of the earliest requests I received was to write about Clint Eastwood’s “genteel” off-white coat in this movie (and I offer my sincerest apologies to BAMF Style reader Jack for the nearly seven-year delay in getting around to this!), so I’ll keep the focus of this post to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which credits its costumes in the opening titles to Carlo Simi’s design and sourcing from Western Costume Company and Antonelli. As this is a prequel of sorts for the ageless “man with no name”, we see how his wardrobe evolves as he obtains the garments that Clint Eastwood would also wear in those first two movies.

The Frock Coat: Prologue

It isn’t until nearly twenty minutes of screen-time have passed, including that famous first ten-and-a-half minutes that passes without a single word of dialogue, that we first meet the closest thing The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly offers to a hero, the laconic gunman that Tuco calls “Blondie”. Despite his taciturn reputation, we hear Blondie before we see him as he threatens three fellow bounty hunters off-camera before stepping, hat-first, into the frame.

Said “plantation hat” appears to be well-traveled, made of natural straw with a very wide brim that curls up at the ends and would provide ample protection from the hot New Mexico sun… leading Tuco to shoot it off of Blondie’s head during the desert death march. The hat has a low telescope-shaped crown, banded with six long strips of tan leather looped intermittently around the base of the crown.

Peering out from under his broad-brimmed straw plantation hat, Blondie sets the terms of his tenuous partnership with Tuco.

Peering out from under his broad-brimmed straw plantation hat, Blondie sets the terms of his tenuous partnership with Tuco.

Long before adopting his famous poncho, the Man with No Name steps into the frame with his first choice of “badass longcoat”, an olive-tinted beige frock coat with what appear to be hand pockets but are, in fact, long slits cut through the sides for our hero to more efficiently access his holstered Colt. These echo the slanted slits on each side of the chest, which may be actual pockets.

The knee-length coat has a long single vent that extends up to the high, suppressed waist line, decorated on the back with two cloth-covered buttons that match those on the front and the non-functioning three buttons on each cuff.

As Blondie approaches Tuco in their shared introductory scene, note the butt of Blondie's holstered revolver jutting through the slit in the right side of his frock coat.

As Blondie approaches Tuco in their shared introductory scene, note the butt of Blondie’s holstered revolver jutting through the slit in the right side of his frock coat.

In lore of the American west, long coats and dusters are often associated with the world of bandits, bounty hunters, and badge-wearing marshals. A bounty hunter himself, Blondie wears this sandy frock coat as he executes his catch-and-release gambit with Tuco until one close call—missing Tuco’s rope on the first shot as he had threatened to do—has Blondie rethinking his future with the “sawed-off runt”, leaving Tuco alone in the desert with nothing but a rope and plenty of threatening ire against the “filthy, double-crossing bastard” who abandoned him.

Blondie’s worn frock coat, suggested to be as well-traveled as his hat, is double-breasted with eight cloth-covered buttons, configured with parallel columns of four closely spaced buttons on each side of the front, though the top few buttons on each side are covered by the coat’s Ulster-style peak lapels with straight gorges.

Blondie regards his latest bounty, a seething Tuco, before accepting $2,000 for bringing the irate bandit to be hanged.

Blondie regards his latest bounty, a seething Tuco, before accepting $2,000 for bringing the irate bandit to be hanged.

When a vengeful Tuco sends his spur-jangling gunmen after Blondie, our protagonist is in the midst of cleaning his Colt in a Santa Fe hotel room while General Sipley leads his rebel troops on a loud retreat outside. Sans hat, coat, and gat, this is the most that Blondie has ever been exposed to us yet, so it’s no surprise that he’s caught off-guard—at least off his guard enough to let Tuco get the drop on him after Blondie guns down his three cohorts: “There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door, and those that come in by the window.”

Gun in hand, Blondie regards the trio of freshly killed gunmen whose jangling spurs outside his hotel room door alerted him to their presence.

Gun in hand, Blondie regards the trio of freshly killed gunmen whose jangling spurs outside his hotel room door alerted him to their presence.

Blondie adds to this outfit with a long black lightweight scarf, tied into a substantial knot in front of his neck with the rest of the scarf hanging free outside his shirt. This is the next piece of his wardrobe that Blondie loses, pulling it off after Tuco forces him through a death march in the intense sun-baked heat of the New Mexico desert.

It’s during this desert death march that we get a better look at Blondie’s shirt, a busy but balanced pattern against a dark blue field. The pattern is arranged against a grid of white dots, each creating the corner of an ostensible square in which each of the two patterns alternate. One of these two patterns is a solid dark blue circle set against a “burst” of white micro-dots; the second pattern is more subtle, consisting of a square turned 45° and made up of two dotted borders, one enclosing the other, with a vertical dotted line through the center, bisecting a white dot directly in the center of this square-within-a-square.

The pattern of the shirt is similar to those increasingly popular with trend-setters of the 1960s, though the old-fashioned cut establishes it as a period-inspired piece. Blondie’s button-up shirt has a squared standing collar with a single-button neck closure, puffy full-fitting sleeves worn off the shoulders with a single-button squared cuff at the end of each, and two box-pleated chest pockets that each button through a pointed flap.

Blondie, moments away from potentially meeting his maker in the middle of the New Mexico desert. At least Tuco let him keep his shirt.

Blondie, moments away from potentially meeting his maker in the middle of the New Mexico desert. At least Tuco let him keep his shirt.

For the greater part of the 20th century, Westerns were more about storytelling than historical accuracy, and many are presented without giving a specific year—or even decade—for the on-screen action, instead relying on the lore of the old west to contextualize its action. Regardless of intended setting, silver screen gunslingers charged into battle with Winchester rifles touted as “the gun that won the west” or Peacemaker Colts drawn from buscadero holsters.

One of the most common costume anachronisms of Westerns are the seeming ubiquity of trousers with modern-style belt loops. While trouser belt loops weren’t unheard of in the 1860s, they were still far from common and it would be another half-century until they would be more integrated on men’s trousers in the years following World War I, gaining greater traction with the lowering of trouser waistlines across the roaring ’20s and Great Depression. For additional history of men’s trouser belt loops in a Western context, read Marshall Trimble’s entry for True West magazine that concludes “cowboys either wore suspenders of had a pair tight enough around the waist they didn’t need a belt to hold them up.”

All that to say, the Man with No Name wears trousers more contemporary to the 1960s production than the 1860s setting in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. His first pair of trousers are brown flat front trousers with a modern low rise and tall belt loops, through which he wears a wide and brown leather belt with some hard-worn damage and patina, fastened through a squared brass single-prong buckle. The two jetted front pockets are gently slanted.

Blondie reholsters his Colt, not yet aware that his greatest danger is silently perched a few feet behind him.

Blondie reholsters his Colt, not yet aware that his greatest danger is silently perched a few feet behind him.

Eastwood wears a gun belt patterned after what he wore in the first two “Dollars” movies, originally made for him by Andy Anderson. (I’ve seen it mentioned that Eastwood wore the same rig on Rawhide, but I haven’t been able to find any documentation positively supporting this theory.) The rig consists of a wide brown roughout leather belt, contrast stitched in beige along the edges and with fancy double loop-and-diamond designs flanking the tapered center strap which closes through a large hammered brass single-prong buckle. The gun belt is detailed with brown leather cartridge loops around the left side onto the back, and the straight side-draw holster itself is attached to the right side of the belt with a belted strap around the center.

Replicas of Eastwood’s famous gun belt are widely available for a range of budgets, including El Paso Saddlery (via OldTradingPost.com), Escort Western Gunleather, Frontier Gunleather, Larry Green Productions, The Last Best West, LondonJacks (via Etsy), and StraightLine (via Amazon and StraightLine).

Eastwood wears the same cowboy boots that he wore as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, though the color cinematography of Leone’s “Dollars trilogy” allowed viewers to see the rich medium tan color of the roughout cowhide for the first time. These square-toed boots have slanted heels approximately 1¼” or 1½” high.

With Bill Carson dead behind him, Tuco makes an effort to hydrate his enemy-turned-friend Blondie.

With Bill Carson dead behind him, Tuco makes an effort to hydrate his enemy-turned-friend Blondie.

Even off of his horse, Blondie appoints his trademark boots with his usual stainless steel spurs, fastened around each boot via slim brown leather belted strap. (StraightLine produces replicas of the Man with No Name’s boots and spurs among its many reproductions of Eastwood’s costume, available via Amazon or the StraightLine site.)

Over the first half of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Blondie wears his trousers tucked into his boots, showing more of the boot shafts than the previous two films .

Over the first half of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Blondie wears his trousers tucked into his boots, showing more of the boot shafts than the previous two films .

When a CSA wagon rolling past them interrupts Blondie’s near-execution, Tuco learns from a dying Bill Carson that $200,000 in gold is buried under a grave in Sad Hill Cemetery… though only Blondie gets to learn the name on the grave before Carson expires. In that moment, Blondie transforms from Tuco’s mortal enemy to his most valuable friend. Tuco steals Corporal Carson’s CSA uniform and eye-patch and dresses Blondie in the gray garb of another dead soldier as they set off in search of medical help… and an easy payout.

Hardly the pride of the Confederacy, Blondie and Tuco's latest gambit lands them among bona fide rebels in a Union prison camp, ruthlessly run by Corporal Wallace (Mario Brega) and the newly ordained Sergeant "Angel Eyes" (Lee Van Cleef).

Hardly the pride of the Confederacy, Blondie and Tuco’s latest gambit lands them among bona fide rebels in a Union prison camp, ruthlessly run by Corporal Wallace (Mario Brega) and the newly ordained Sergeant “Angel Eyes” (Lee Van Cleef).

Building an Iconic Look

“The war’s over for you,” Angel Eyes greets Blondie upon his arrival in the Union prison camp headquarters, tossing him a bundle of civilian clothing as well as his old gun belt and snake-gripped Colt. “Put those clothes on.” And with that, the Good and the Bad set out in search of $200,000 in gold without the Ugly to slow them down.

Blondie begins discarding the pieces of his purloined Confederate uniform as he looks over the bundle of civilian duds lent by Angel Eyes.

Blondie begins discarding the pieces of his purloined Confederate uniform as he looks over the bundle of civilian duds lent by Angel Eyes.

We now see the familiar elements of Blondie’s wardrobe coming together like his blue-and-white railroad-striped shirt, its stripe so named for the thin striping similar to the durable pillow-ticked stripe associated with rail conductors’ caps and overalls. This particular pattern and puckering process would be popularized on seersucker cloth, though the striping on Eastwood’s shirt is thinner than that associated associated with traditional seersucker. (StraightLine markets a replica available via Amazon, though work shirts in this stripe are also popular as offered by Key Industries and Liberty Blues.)

Blondie’s striped work shirt has a front placket, single-button barrel cuffs, and a soft spread collar with rounded ends similar to the far more formal “club collar”. Rather than the billowing scarf he had worn with his last outfit, Blondie protects his neck and catches sweat with a black cotton kerchief tied in a taut strip around his neck.

Blondie now finds himself ensconced among Union troops.

Blondie now finds himself ensconced among Union troops.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly also establishes this bundle as the source of the Man with No Name’s distressed sheepskin vest, a simple one-piece waistcoat that fastens with a single thin leather draw-cord that ties over the stomach. In this case, sheepskin is exactly what you’d expect of the word, with the outer “shell” of Eastwood’s vest being the tan soft leather side of the skin, lined with the fleecy piled wool that’s also seen on the garment’s de facto collar created by the top folding over onto the chest.

"It's for you."

“It’s for you.”

Earlier, I mentioned the anachronistic misrepresentation of belt-looped trousers in Westerns, which extends to the dark jeans that Eastwood wore across all three films in the “Dollars trilogy”. Even the earliest jeans, developed following Levi Strauss & Co.’s 1873 patent, share little in common with the modern jeans worn by the Man with No Name with their low rise, straight fit, dual back pockets, and belt loops, a feature which Levi’s wouldn’t offer with their signature 501 “waist overalls” until 1922, and then only as an option to supplement the suspender buttons and cinch-back strap, neither of which appear to be visible on Eastwood’s pants. (The suspender buttons would finally be removed the following decade, and the increasingly unpopular back cinch would remain until World War II.)

While I’m not aware of any verification that Eastwood wore Wrangler jeans in any of these movies, the North Carolina-based denim outfitter capitalized on A Fistful of Dollars‘ popularity during a contemporary U.K. campaign advertising that “He-men wear Wrangler jeans” next to a drawing of the “Man with No Name” in his signature poncho and hat, single-action revolver in hand, and a promo urging its constituents to see the film at their local cinema.

Eastwood had reportedly purchased his screen-worn jeans from a Hollywood Boulevard sporting goods shop before the production of A Fistful of Dollars. The color is a deep indigo, so dark as to almost appear black, with even the stitching dyed to match the rest of the jeans’ cotton twill fabric.

Blondie keeps his gun hand steady and ready while facing down Angel Eyes and Tuco during the film's famous finale.

Blondie keeps his gun hand steady and ready while facing down Angel Eyes and Tuco during the film’s famous finale.

Blondie’s belt, gun rig, and boots are the only items from his first outfit to be worn again for the second half of the film which retroactively establishes his character’s look for A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. In this case, he wears the straight legs of his jeans over the top of his boot shafts, breaking just above his spur straps.

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly retroactively “introduces” the Man with No Name’s chosen headgear to replace the discarded plantation hat from the first half, a brown felt cowboy hat with an asymmetrical self-bound brim and a distressed telescope crown, accented around the base with a dark brown tooled leather band that tapers to a silver-toned single-prong buckle worn on the left side.

Interestingly, the hat appears to have already withstood the bullet-ridden damage of being shot front and center through the top of the crown by Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More. Clint had reportedly purchased his from a Santa Monica wardrobe firm prior to A Fistful of Dollars and, while the maker of the original hat isn’t confirmed today, Baron Hats makes a worthy reproduction available in rabbit or beaver felt with a 4 1/8″ pencil-rolled brim and a 4½”-tall crown, and Knudsen Hat Company makes a beaver felt hat with a 3½”-wide brim and 4¼”-tall slightly pinched crown.

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

One piece from Angel Eyes’ bundle that doesn’t make it past The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a tattered beige lightweight duster which, for good reason, is one of the less celebrated costume pieces of the Man with No Name’s wardrobe. The somewhat oversized knee-length duster has a double-breasted front with parallel columns of five buttons on each side of the front in addition to slanted chest pockets and large hip pockets with flaps tucked in. The broad sueded collar with its unevenly jagged edges extends out to Eastwood’s shoulders, likely not the intended final form but adding to Blondie’s scrappy look. The duster has a single vent, wide waist loops for a long-gone belt, and a bloodied hole in the back of the right sleeve that suggests the previous owner met a grisly end…no doubt making it easier to yield his coat to Angel Eyes or whomever had brought about the man’s demise.

To accommodate the duster’s excessive size, Blondie folds back the cuffs at the end of each sleeve, revealing a beige-on-brown striped lining inside the sleeves that differs from the gray plaid lining inside the body of the coat.

New "enlistees" Blondie and Tuco are given a grand tour of the Union encampment by the drunken captain (Aldo Giuffrè).

New “enlistees” Blondie and Tuco are given a grand tour of the Union encampment by the drunken captain (Aldo Giuffrè).

Blondie wears the duster until his and Tuco’s afternoon of volunteer service with the Union Army involves them in a dangerous battle and a subsequent bridge demolition. He removes the half-drenched duster to cover a dying rebel soldier, with whom he shares one of his small cigars. After the soldier dies, Blondie spots something next to him that proves to be of considerable interest…

The Poncho

Just before the film’s final act, Blondie completes his sartorial puzzle when he finds what would become his trademark poncho next to the soldier who dies smoking one of his cigars. As written by Olivia Stalker for Polychrome, “his poncho becomes emblematic of a superhero’s cape, and cements his role as the ‘Good’.”

We’re first presented with the memorable hero shot of Blondie wearing the poncho after Tuco, overcome by the ecstasy of gold, is ferociously digging into Arch Stanton’s recently buried grave. To make the job easier, a shovel lands next to him in the dirt. He casts a sideways glance at his benefactor, and we pan up with Tuco from those familiar tan leather boots and dark jeans to find Eastwood standing, confident as ever in his newly acquired poncho as he picks at one of his little cigars.

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

The olive woven wool poncho is designed with a two-sided border print in the same off-white yarn as used for the design through the rest of the pullover garment, including the dense latticework around the center neck hole. The front and back are finished with a long off-white fringe.

Evidently, the poncho’s original color was sun-aged to what looked more brown on screen, though the original olive green can still be observed on the reverse side, best seen when Eastwood tosses part of the poncho over his shoulder in anticipation of the climactic final gunfight.

With his hat, poncho, and cigar, the Man with No Name completes his image.

With his hat, poncho, and cigar, the Man with No Name completes his image.

Eastwood has taken credit for the renowned poncho, though there are conflicting stories about its origin. According to Clint Collection, he may have picked it up in a Hollywood costume store or in a Spanish shop prior to the production of a A Fistful of Dollars, having stopped in to buy more cigarillos. The latter rings of apocrypha, and some have suggested that it wasn’t even Eastwood but rather Leone and costume designer Carlo Simi who made that fateful visit to a local town store in Spain. Only Eastwood, Leone, or Simi would know for sure, though one part of the poncho’s lore that has been widely confirmed is that the same garment was worn across all three movies without being replaced or cleaned.

Of all the replicas available across the internet, the most official seems to be this 100% wool offering from the appropriately named Clint Collection, which includes plenty in its online listing including a history of the poncho, citing its origination among indigenous dwellers in the Andes region in South America who developed this blanket-like outerwear as protection from rain and wind. GuidesMag has also put considerable work into researching and ranking the seven best replicas of the famous Eastwood poncho.

The Guns

Every gun makes its own tune.

Eastwood had carried a snake-gripped Single Action Army that he brought with him from Rawhide in the first two films of the “Dollars Trilogy” but the Civil War-era setting of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly had the production team arm Blondie with a more period-appropriate sidearm than the Colt “Peacemaker” that was first introduced in 1873.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly kept a classic Colt military revolver in his holster, reverted to a Colt 1851 Navy as was popularly carried by soldiers and officers on both sides of the Civil War. Different variations of the Navy Colt were carried by all three of the titular leads, with Blondie’s revolver retaining the character’s distinctive grips boasting a silver-inlaid coiled rattlesnake on each grip panel.

Blondie: "One, two, three, four, five, six. Six. Perfect number." Angel Eyes: "Isn't three the perfect number?" Blondie: "Yeah, but I got six more bullets in my gun."

Blondie: “One, two, three, four, five, six. Six. Perfect number.”
Angel Eyes: “Isn’t three the perfect number?”
Blondie: “Yeah, but I got six more bullets in my gun.”

In the fifteen years after Samuel Colt had changed firearms forever with his introduction of the Colt Paterson folding-trigger percussion revolver, the Connecticut-born inventor found success after success with the massive Walker Colt and the Colt Model 1848 “Dragoon”, both chambered for the dangerously powerful .44 ball, as well as the smaller .31-caliber “Pocket” percussion revolvers, which—despite their nomenclature—are considerably larger and heavier than most full-sized service revolvers produced over the course of the 20th century. To bridge the gap in size and power, Colt introduced this Colt Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber in 1850, with Waterman Ormsby’s engraving of the Second Texas Navy’s victory at the Battle of Campeche etched on the cylinders, added to recognize Colt’s appreciation for the Texas Navy’s early adoption of the Colt Paterson.

As its full designation suggests, the new Navy Colt could be comfortably carried in one’s belt and fired an 80-grain .36-caliber lead ball similar in power to the modern .380 cartridge. Due to its balance of portability and power, not to mention its sturdy reliability, the 1851 Colt Navy became a popular sidearm for reputable gunfighters including “Doc” Holliday and “Wild Bill” Hickok, who famously carried two ivory-gripped Navy Colts butt-first around his waist.

Blondie quickly draws and fires his Navy Colt through a slit in the side "pocket" of his frock coat, dispatching several rival bounty hunters in seconds.

Blondie quickly draws and fires his Navy Colt through a slit in the side “pocket” of his frock coat, dispatching several rival bounty hunters in seconds.

All of these early American revolvers, including the .44-caliber 1860 Army Colt developed just before the Civil War began, was loaded by the then-ubiquitous procedure of pouring gunpowder into each cylinder mouth, pushing in a ball, and affixing a percussion cap to the back of the cylinder; even the most reliable revolvers thus took considerable time and skill to reload. After gunsmith Rollin White left Colt’s employ at the end of 1854, he quickly set to work developing a revolver cylinder that would allow paper cartridges to be loaded from the back of a revolver’s cylinder, similar to the cartridge revolvers popular in Europe at the time. Though elements of his design were unworkable and resulted in only one item built to his specifications (which disastrously malfunctioned), elements of his patent proved useful to Smith & Wesson, who signed their exclusive rights to parts of White’s patent into what would become a 14-year monopoly on breech-loading revolvers like the .32 rimfire Smith & Wesson Model 1.

While other firearms manufacturers violated the patent before its expiration (and were often courted by lawsuits from both White and Smith & Wesson), Colt patiently waited until the April 3, 1869, expiration date and then swiftly incorporated cartridge-firing cylinders into its own established designs via the Richards-Mason conversion process (named after Colt employees Charles Richards and William Mason), converting .36 cap-and-ball Colts to fire a .38 rimfire or centerfire cartridge with the help of a cylinder filler ring and changing out the loading lever for a spring-loaded ejector rod assembly. (For more detail about these conversions, check out College Hill Arsenal.)

Colt soon introduced its own “Open Top” revolver that fired .44 Henry rimfire cartridges, though this was followed by (and all-but forgotten in favor of) the iconic .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army in 1873. The Peacemaker, with its variety of barrel lengths and at least thirty different cartridge options over decades of production, would soon become ubiquitous in the West as well as cultural depictions of it.

The Peacemaker’s compatibility with the “five-in-one” blank cartridges favored in early Hollywood productions made it a mainstay of Western movies and TV productions across the first half of the 20th century, including Rawhide, where Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Yates carried a 5½”-barreled “Artillery” model Single Action Army with a color case-hardened frame and silver snake-inlaid grip panels, acquired in-universe from a dead outlaw. I believe it was budgetary reasons that resulted in Eastwood bringing his Rawhide revolver and boots to A Fistful of Dollars, but these soon became an established part of the Man with No Name’s image and the same revolver appeared again in For a Few Dollars More.

The Man with No Name loads his snake-gripped Single Action Army in For a Few Dollars More, the only installment of the "Dollars trilogy" where Eastwood also wore this long brown leather lace-up shooting cuff on his right forearm.

The Man with No Name loads his snake-gripped Single Action Army in For a Few Dollars More, the only installment of the “Dollars trilogy” where Eastwood also wore this long brown leather lace-up shooting cuff on his right forearm, reportedly inspired by an item that Sergio Leone saw Andy Anderson wearing to accommodate a shrapnel wound from World War II.

Blondie’s Navy Colt in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly still retains the loading gate and the profile of an original percussion version, though it’s clearly been modified to fire cartridges as have the percussion revolvers brandished by all of the film’s leads.

Apropos the Italian production of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, all of the screen-featured firearms were provided by Aldo Uberti, Inc. The experts at IMFDB identified that Eastwood’s screen-used “Colt 1851 Navy” was, in fact, a unique factory cartridge-firing evolution of the original percussion revolver, created by Uberti by “specially machining some raw forgings to become .38 centerfires.”

Blondie cleans his unloaded Navy Colt, which has been anachronistically converted to fire cartridges. (Had it not, Blondie likely would have been cornered and killed by Tuco's gunmen before managing to reassemble and reload his revolver.)

Blondie cleans his unloaded Navy Colt, which has been anachronistically converted to fire cartridges. (Had it not, Blondie likely would have been cornered and killed by Tuco’s gunmen before managing to reassemble and reload his revolver.)

Much as Blondie’s sidearm is mostly period-accurate, the filmmakers made the same effort to represent authenticity with his long arms. In the early scene where Blondie keeps up his end of the bargain with Tuco by rescuing him from hanging, our protagonist shoulders what appears to be a Henry rifle. This innovative lever-action rifle that could quickly spit out up to sixteen or seventeen .44-caliber rimfire rounds was first fielded by Union troops in 1862 and would soon distinguish itself in combat, surprising Confederate soldiers during to the extent that CSA Colonel John S. Mosby reportedly described the weapon as “that damned Yankee rifle that can be loaded on Sunday and fired all week.” The Henry would notably distinguish itself in Union service at the Second Battle of Collierville, the Battle of Allatoona Pass, and the Battle of Franklin, though the U.S. Army itself would fall to the destructive power of the Henry rifle when in the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors during the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn. More than 14,000 rifles would be manufactured by the time production ceased in 1866.

Representing the Henry rifle on screen, the filmmakers armed Blondie with a modified Winchester Model 1866 lever-action rifle, a model nicknamed the “Yellow Boy” for the brassy shine of its alloy receiver.

Note the loading gate on the right side of the brass receiver, indicating that Blondie's rifle is the anachronistic Winchester Model 1866. You can also see the top of his side-mounted scope as he takes careful aim to cut down Tuco's rope.

Note the loading gate on the right side of the brass receiver, indicating that Blondie’s rifle is the anachronistic Winchester Model 1866. You can also see the top of his side-mounted scope as he takes careful aim to cut down Tuco’s rope.

The use of a Yellow Boy would have been anachronistic for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly‘s Civil War setting, so it was made to resemble a Henry by removing the Winchester’s wooden fore-end, though it retains the loading gate which had been added to the right side of the Winchester’s frame as part of Nelson King’s patent designed to improve upon some of the original Henry’s flaws. Both the Henry and the original Winchester Model 1866 were chambered for the rimfire .44 Henry cartridge. The popular Winchester Model 1866 remained in production through 1899, even after Winchester Repeating Arms introduced several variants of its lever-action repeating rifle like “The Gun That Won the West” Model 1873, the Model 1892, and the Model 1895 that would be a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt.

To achieve the startling accuracy required to shoot and break the rope being used to hold Tuco and then pick off his pursuers, Blondie appoints his Henry/Winchester hybrid with a long side-folding scope along the left side of the rifle’s frame.

Blondie and his converted Winchester rifle (with the wooden fore-end removed to resemble a Henry) are now in the service of a doomed outlaw named Shorty. This shot of the left side shows more of the scope.

Blondie and his converted Winchester rifle (with the wooden fore-end removed to resemble a Henry) are now in the service of a doomed outlaw named Shorty. This shot of the left side shows more of the scope.

By the end of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Blondie again aims a rifle at Tuco while the latter is suspended from a rope, though it is a different model than seen earlier. A recent update to IMFDB suggests that this isn’t an anachronistic Sharps 1874 rifle as previously thought but instead a Spencer repeating rifle with an octagonal barrel, citing Peter J. Hanley’s The Making of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly as the source.

The same correction suggests that this was likely meant to be Blondie’s rifle all along, as it’s seen with a scope on his horse during the Rome-filmed scene where Blondie brings Tuco into town and dismounts his horse prior to the Spanish-filmed hanging scene. Per the IMFDB entry, “Some technical difficulty must have caused the crew to abandon this rifle, substituting the bounty hunter’s Model 1866 which later received the scope at the time of the second hanging. Certainly, the Spencer could never have fired with the rapid cadence of the Model 1866.”

The full-length octagonal barrel seen in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly indicates that Blondie’s Spencer is a civilian sporting model, possibly fitted with a barrel made by J. Harder & Sons of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, like this 30″-barreled Spencer (via Rock Island Auction Company). The suggestion of Blondie’s rifle being a Spencer rather than Sharps is supported by the evidence cited a decade earlier in this CASCity.com forum.

The IMFDB writer also states that the placement of Eastwood's arm during the scene prevents the viewer from recognizing the "breechblock pivot area" that would distinguish the Spencer from the Sharps.

The IMFDB writer also states that the placement of Eastwood’s arm during the scene prevents the viewer from recognizing the “breechblock pivot area” that would distinguish the Spencer from the Sharps.

Invented by Christopher Spencer, the Spencer repeating rifle has been described as the world’s first military metallic cartridge repeating rifle, patented in March 1860 just months before the Henry. The weapon was swiftly adopted by the U.S. Navy, then the Army—where the shorter-length carbines were particularly popular among cavalry troops like George Armstrong Custer—though it never replaced the muzzle-loading rifled musket in standard service despite Abraham Lincoln being impressed by a personal demonstration of the Spencer in action. (Interestingly, Lincoln’s eventual killer John Wilkes Booth would be armed with a Spencer carbine when he was finally captured.)

The standard ammunition was the proprietary .56-56 Spencer black powder cartridge, fed from a seven-round magazine, with more than 200,000 rifles and carbines produced over the decade before production ended when the company went out of business in 1869.

Of course, when Blondie needs true firepower that even a state-of-the-art rifle can’t manage, he turns to a strategically placed Civil War-era howitzer, in this case a single-barreled cannon with an octagonal muzzle.

Watch out, Tuco.

Watch out, Tuco.

What to Imbibe

Unlike many Western heroes, Clint Eastwood’s nameless gunman doesn’t fuel himself on countless shots of anonymous whiskey slapped on the bar by a no-nonsense saloonkeeper but rather his signature cigarillos, smoked from the left corner of his mouth. I’ve seen various brands touted as Eastwood’s on-screen smokes, including Marsh Wheeling Virginians (suggested in an interview with the actor himself) or Toscano-made Parodi Ammezzati cheroots made of fermented Kentucky tobacco, but the answer may be lost to history unless we can get some definitive clarification from Eastwood or a surviving member of the production team.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em. And Blondie's got plenty.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. And Blondie’s got plenty.

What is less in question is the fact that Eastwood—already a non-smoker—grew to detest the taste of his small cigars, even though the harsh taste and effects would put him in the proper mood for the role. According to Eli Wallach, Eastwood once quipped to Leone after multiple takes of a shot that featured him smoking: “You’d better get it this time, because I’m going to throw up.” No wonder Eastwood developed a directorial style famous for single takes.

How to Get the Look

Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka "the Man with No Name", in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka “the Man with No Name”, in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

In addition to the movie itself, Clint Eastwood’s outfit as the poncho-wearing “man with no name” who lets his ubiquitous cigarillo and Colt do his talking for him has become influential and iconic in its own right.

  • Blue-and-white railroad-striped cotton shirt with rounded spread collar, front placket, button-through patch chest pockets, and button cuffs
  • Black cotton neckerchief
  • Tan sheepskin vest with natural piled lining and mid-chest drawcord
  • Olive woven wool poncho with white pattern and white fringe
  • Dark indigo cotton twill straight-leg jeans with belt loops, five-pocket layout, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Brown leather wide belt with squared gold-toned single-prong buckle
  • Brown roughout leather gun belt with contrast edge-stitching and loop-and-diamond detail stitching, with tapered front strap (with hammered brass single-prong buckle), cartridge loops, and straight right-side holster (with belted strap)
  • Tan roughout cowhide square-toed cowboy boots with straight shaft openings and low slanted heels
  • Stainless steel spurs with slim brown leather belted strap
  • Brown felt cowboy hat with telescope crown and dark brown tooled leather band (with silver-toned single-prong buckle)

Elements of Blondie’s wardrobe are widely available with replicas of varying qualities offered, whether you’re looking to complete a Western-style outfit or build a Halloween costume like Clint’s own son, Scott Eastwood, memorably did.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie or the whole “Dollars trilogy”.

You can also shop around for your own “man with no name” costume with this helpful guide.

The Quote

You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

7 comments

  1. mpzz

    For what it’s worth, I recall reading decades ago in a magazine article that Eastwood said the jeans he wore in the spaghetti westerns were off the shelf black 501’s.

    Like

  2. Randomcowboy

    I’ve always been fascinated and passionate about westerns, and this movie was a starting point when I was a kid. It took me years of reading and trivia and documentation to get some of the knowledge present in this article, be it about clothing (belts vs suspenders, shirts and collars, holsters) or props, particularly weapons in this case. It’s always tricky with the western genre as a whole because it has been so mystified movies are less than often true to reality.
    This article (and blog in general) is a goldmine of information, thank you for all the work and passion you are putting in this !

    Like

  3. Jay

    Can you cite your source for this info?

    > Eastwood wears the same cowboy boots that he wore as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, though the color cinematography of Leone’s “Dollars trilogy” allowed viewers to see the rich medium tan color of the roughout cowhide for the first time.

    Like

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