Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 121

Who is the Man With No Name? 117 Man with No Name must seem to be someone who could have a name we would relate to. Both writers and characters play with namelessness in their own ways and for their own reasons. A character that keeps his name hidden from others has many possible motives. One is simply to create mystery about himself, his abilities, and his intentions, and hopefully gain an edge over any opponents. This effect is illustrated perfectly in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill, 1969) when Butch frequently stops to ask, a little more nervously each time, “Who are these guys?” that are dogging his trail. It is certainly what motivates the harmonica playing man in Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968). The nameless man may, altematively, be trying to hide from his past, either a criminal one or a famous one. When no one knows who a man is, he can’t be held accountable for or asked to take responsibility for anything. Such men populated Bret Harte’s mining camps. He also w on’t have Challengers out to make their OWN names famous, which is why famed gunfighter J. B. Books uses a fake name in The Shootist (Siegal, 1976). A man with no name may simply want to control his identity with a mind toward Controlling his destiny— in essence, his determination to be only what he consciously decides to be. This is, perhaps, what motivates Eastwood’s thrice-filmed bounty hunter from Leone’s canon. A man may also conceal his name behind a title or alias to increase his reputation and create a legend, as did the Lone Ranger and Deadwood Dick. Instead o f running from a criminal past, a character may hide his identity in the pursuit o f a criminal enterprise, as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Leone, 1966) doubly illustrates. When Sentenza (Lee Van Cleef), alias “Angel Eyes,” asks his rival Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan M aria Ramirez (Eli Wallach), “also known as ‘The Rat’” why he is using the name “Bill Carson,” the alias o f a third man that Sentenza seeks, Tuco’s response is revealing to us while evasive to Sentenza. “One name is as good as another,” he says, pretending the choice was random. “Not wise to use your own name. Like you! I bet they don’t call you Angel Eyes. Sergeant Angel Eyes!” he says with a laugh, as if “Angel Eyes” was his interrogator’s real name. In contrast to Eastwood’s Man with No Name, his competitors have multiple names to choose from, as suits them at any given moment, with none being a character’s real name for certain. With two o f the three main characters doffing and donning names as if hats, and never providing a name on screen— as he must have to claim Tuco’s reward on several occasions— the film consciously