Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Man with No Name

Growing up, I had a hero. He wasn’t a sports hero, a superhero or a musician. Nor was he a TV or movie star. He had an unassuming walk, and he seemed quite harmless—that is if you look at him for what he represented. I always thought of him as enterprising. But that’s just me.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood

I’m talking about the Man with No Name, the character Clint Eastwood portrayed in 1964 that made him an international superstar. What would Wednesday Warriors be if I didn’t feature this taller-than-life character for my weekly series?

Directed by Sergio Leone, A Fistful of Dollars brought to life a character so rich in detail and so vivid in breadth that Leone had to direct two other movies (For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) to solidify the Man with No Name’s legend in the annals of the great American Western.

Known as Joe, Manco and Blondie, based on chronological appearance in the films, Clint Eastwood’s interpretation of a man who happens to wander in the middle of a feud turns into a battle cry for opportunity. The character pits families and armies against each other all in an effort to gain a profit from the animosity created.

Smoking cheap cigars and wearing a Mexican shawl, anyone else would consider him a regular nobody. But his adversaries can’t help but notice how he towers over them at six-foot-four and carries under his shawl a peacemaker called a Smith & Wesson.

Man with No Name
Man with No Name

In his first gunfight, he asks the local undertaker to prepare three coffins. He then strolls to the center of town challenging a group of hoodlums to apologize to his mule for scaring it with their errant gunfire. They were only teasing. He understands, but you see, the mule didn’t take kindly to the suggestion they were only fooling. Now if they’d apologize, like he knows they would, everything would be fine.

They don’t apologize.

When the Man with No Name passes by the undertaker once more he simply says, “My mistake” and holds up his fingers, “four.”

In the second and third movies, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly being the most popular, the character establishes his gunfighter prowess by eliminating one gang after another with a mission to gain as much gold as he can in the shortest possible time. His nicknames range from The Stranger, The Hunter to The Bounty Killer. However, if you think the character is all rock and no velvet, he does have a soft side. He reunites a little boy with his mother and sends them away, to the chagrin of the local gang who had held the boy for other nefarious intents.

Clint’s character also suffers brutal beatings at the hands of the gangs when he tries to do what he feels is best for everyone in a situation.

What I like most about the character Man with No Name though, is how the strong and silent type became a template for other actors in future films, even up to this day. To the merit of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, the character typifies that not every situation in life deserves words.

Sometimes, all we need is action.

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Have you seen any of the Man with No Name movies starring Cling Eastwood? What do you think of them?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Groundhog Day

Every February the second or so, my kids and I pop some corn, grab a few drinks, and ease into our seats in front of the TV to lose ourselves in the movie Groundhog Day. It’s been a tradition in our family for quite a while. Every few years even my wife joins in on the fun. What is it about Groundhog Day that makes me want to be a better person? Let’s find out and chalk my findings to Freedom Friday.

Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day

Let’s get one thing out of the way—this is not a movie review. These are random thoughts about a movie, how it’s affected my life and continues to affect my life from one year to the next. Besides, something about a guy who goes crazy believing he’s a god makes for an interesting story. We’ll get back to that a little later on.

If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, the premise goes something like this: What would you do if by some fantastic freak event you had to relive the same day over and over again? I’m sure the comment on the tip of everyone’s tongue wouldn’t be anything less than, “It depends on which day.” What if it was the worst day of your life? Not traumatic, but a real bad day gone south.

I’ve thought about this long and hard. There’s no escaping it. I’d probably end up doing exactly the same thing Bill Murray’s character did when attempting to cope with his predicament:

  • I’d fall into a cycle of denial
  • I’d realize I could do whatever I want knowing tomorrow’s another day
  • I’d believe I was a god
  • I’d get fed up and want to kill myself (remember, he’s stuck in hell)

But you know what? No matter how bad things get something good always comes from something awful. That, without a doubt, is the message of the movie.

Groundhog Day clock
Groundhog Day clock

Without specifics, I’ve had to live through my own Groundhog Day, which I now embrace as something that has made me who I am today. Had I not gone through that experience, I certainly wouldn’t have gained a more focused approach in my ability to look on the bright side.

Someone said to me this week, a lesson not learned is a lesson worth repeating. I’m not sure if that’s a real quote but it makes for a great motto. Take it from a guy with a hard head—you crash into a brick wall a few hundred times, eventually it’s going to start to hurt. Of course then the question surfaces, why would you want to crash into a brick wall in the first place? Like I said, I’m a guy with a hard head.

Thankfully, I haven’t had to threaten kidnapping of Punxsutawney Phil or our beloved Canadian groundhog Wiarton Willie. Nor have I had to worry about dressing as Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name in order to consider myself worthy of popular opinion. Although I reserve the right to change my mind on that last point. A guy has to have fun once in a while.

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Do you feel that sense of wanting to be a better person during Groundhog Day?