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This is a question I tried to find an answer off of a comment by Napoleon on a different question.

The man with no name is the central character in what is commonly called the "Dollars trilogy", i.e., "For a Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly".

During the three movies, the central character as portrayed by Clint Eastwood is seen wearing the same clothing, and acting with the same mannerisms. He is referred to as Joe one time (And credited as such) in Fistful, "Manco" in Dollars More, and Blondie in Good/Bad/Ugly.

Are each of these three the same character, or are they different characters with the same (non) name? (Also note, which may be relevant, the director Leone did not intend for these to be a trilogy, that was a marketing decision, and Fistful is an unofficial remake of a Japanese film called Yojimbo).

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Haha, finally someone dares to ask it. Yet, I think your last sentence pretty much answers it. But thanks for providing a referential question with a hopefully conclusive and definite answer to this everlasting question. –  Sonny Burnett Mar 24 at 16:30
    
Amen! ------------------(filler) –  Meat Trademark Mar 25 at 2:14

5 Answers 5

It's impossible to definitively say.

The film was only intended as a one off movie, with three films being created out of it. It was certainly suggested by the film makers that in the second film Eastwood was playing the same character as in the first.

Robert C. Cumbrow discussed this ongoing questions in "The Films of Sergio Leone", commenting:

We assume from the beginning that Eastwood, in For a Few Dollars More, is playing the same character he had played in A Fistful of Dollars. In fact, the advertising campaign for the film encouraged us to do so ("The Man with No Name is Back and the Man in Black Is Waiting for Him!"). But jarring points signal character dissimilarities. Eastwood's called "Manco" in the Italian prints (and in at least one American print), he's more mercenary than he was in the previous film, and he talks about wanting to use his money to (get this) retire! His character's morality is even more pragmatic than it had been in A Fistful of Dollars, where at least he does what he does in order to protect the innocent. There is a certain bond of honor with Colonel Mortimer; but most of what Eastwood's Manco does in the film is consistent with the bounty-killer amorality ascribed to him from the onset.

Yet poncho and cigar, stubble and squint persist through all three Eastwood/Leone films. If the characters portrayed by Eastwood are not supposed to be the same man, it is at least fair to treat them as variations on a theme. What theme? Screen Western heroism stripped of all pretension and motivation and forced to look inward to see a truth: Show me a hero and I'll show you a villain with good excuses. There's good and bad (and ugly) in all of us, and Eastwood was the key player Leone used to mold traditional Western-movie heroism into something with darker roots - it not Hell, then at least purgatory.

It must be noted however that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was the final film released and if applying logic to the trilogy, as it is set during the Civil War, it would only make sense to be a prequel.

If we assume it is a prequel, then almost the only piece of evidence which could be used to suggest the film features the three characters is that Eastwood slowly builds up his "costume" for the first two films throughout The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, finally completing the look when he dons the poncho near the end of the film.

So in conclusion I would argue this:

It was meant to be a one off film. They created a second and played on Eastwood being the same type of character, without really caring too much if he was the same character (hence the character differences). Then for the final film, they chose to make it as a prequel and did intend for the character to be the same as in the first film.

As with @Napoleon Wilson's answer, this is all just conjecture, but I doubt we'll find anything better on the topic.

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+1 - Thank god I didn't wait for too long with my answer. ;-) –  Sonny Burnett Mar 24 at 17:50
    
@NapoleonWilson: To be honest, I knew you'd have a great answer to this question. It's so subjective (another fun one to answer!). I think you've gone into much more detail than me. I just happened to find a guy who'd done a good biography. –  Andrew Martin Mar 24 at 17:57
    
It's a great question after all and one waiting to be answered (or even asked) for a long time already. I'm glad my recent bumps of the Dollar-questions were that fruitful. –  Sonny Burnett Mar 24 at 18:07

For me he is not.

Yet I don't have a hard proof either. But until we get some definite affirmation or denial from Sergio Leone or anyone else acquainted with the project, let's take a look at what in particular might speak for the theory of him being the same character in all the movies:

  1. They are commonly known as the Dollars Trilogy (or sometimes "Man with No Name" Trilogy) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is considered a prequel to the "Dollars"-movies. But as your question already says, this argument is easily annihilated by the fact that those movies were not intented as a trilogy right away, but this was rather a marketing decision developed after the fact by the American distributor. But ok, not a trilogy but maybe still the same character?

  2. Apart from the same director, with Clint Eastwood they share the same actor in all the movies. But well, they share even more actors in major roles, like Gian Maria Volonté or Lee Van Cleef, yet I doubt Col. Mortimer would be considered to be the same character as Sentenza (The Bad). And as you said yourself, Clint's character is, while not having much of an actual name, referred by different nicknames in the individual movies.

  3. Then we still have the very strong argument that his character dresses and behaves similarly in all the movies. But this doesn't hold so strong in the context of this particular role. First of all there is not much to built upon, since this character doesn't provide much exposition to his backstory or his motives, he is thus not only a Man with No Name, but even more so a Man with No History. So there isn't much to built a similarity on apart from his dress-code and his behaviour throughout the movie.

    But it's this behaviour that isn't just shared by those three movies' heroes, but millions of others. Instead of depicting the exact same character in those movies, he actually embodies the stereotypical (and original) anti-hero of Spaghetti Westerns, from then on copied in a billion movies. And in fact many Spaghetti Western heroes share many traits with Clint Eastwood's character(s) in the Dollar Trilogy, yet they are of course entirely different characters. So rather than continuing the story of the man from A Fistful of Dollars, the filmmakers built upon this new and commercially and critically successful type of character, Leone as well as other directors of his time. (And it IMHO also fits to this kind of character and his complete lack of exposition that we don't know anything about his past and future, not even a prequel or a sequel.)

But I agree that this is far from definite evidence against him depicting the same character and some of my arguments might be a bit speculative, but I hope to have at least given some reasonable arguments for my point. To me it is rather the interplay of smaller circumstantial evidences and the initial marketing as a trilogy that have lead to the theory of him being the same person in all the movies. But those individual hints IMHO don't hold strong and I think the burden of proof lies on the people claiming him to be the same character, for which a definite evidence I still haven't ever been provided with.


And as a last little (rather tongue-in-cheek) remark, the possible lack of a definite answer is to a large degree caused by the complete lack of any kind of background information about his character and the (maybe everlasting) question if he is the same person in each movie or not might add as much to the mystery of him as all the other nonexistent history. The unanswerability of this question might thus even be seen as by-design. ;-)

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+1: I like your logic :) –  Andrew Martin Mar 24 at 17:56
    
The burden of proof is key. You can't prove something doesn't exist... I was feeling ambivalent about your answer until you brought that up. Now I like it. + –  Meat Trademark Mar 25 at 2:18
    
Mario Gerotti (Terence Hill) became known for his comedic send-up of the Man with No Name. He was playing the same (type) of character, only exaggerated. –  CGCampbell Aug 11 at 21:09

As a kid I thought they were but I bought the trilogy a few years ago and was struck with that question, not because of the name differences, that can be explained away as he is a drifter and using the same name too much may build up a reputation for a man who ultimately wants to remain anonymous, element of surprise and all that.

What got me was his personality/character differences; the age variation between movies is not that great to have what I consider significant psychological changes, given 10 years a person may change that much, but that kind of time frame shows on a man. In the first one he seems to be about money, but that is just a ruse; no one would have trusted him if he didn't come off as a mercenary, he was really all about reuniting the mother and son, and later he learns she has a husband, he is a complete Angel of mercy.

In the second one he actually is all about money, but he has a sense of "honour amongst thieves" thing going with Van Cleef, and he is a pretty nice guy. In the Good, the Bad and the Ugly he has another significant shift of personality where he actually partners up with a rapist/murderer, the Angel of the first movie would never consider doing that, not for money and not even with an ultimate plan to leave him for dead in the desert, his character from the second movie may have done that but there is no chance that Van Cleef would do such a 180 on him after their bonding over the watch and daughter, again not in a time frame anything short of 10 years do you see changes of character like that.

So overall I consider there to be enough character inconsistencies for them to be unrelated but very thematic similarities across the 3.

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Yet when approaching it from that angle you should also consider that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is effectively set before the two "Dollars"-movies (whatever that means for your assessment). And he wasn't all that evil in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly either. But still +1 for a nevertheless interesting approach. –  Sonny Burnett Mar 29 at 14:24
    
True, he wasn't evil, he wasn't really evil in any of them. How it would alter my assessment, not much, but it would show Van Cleef is not the same character, as the end of G,B&U goes. But yeah, he was the Angel of Mercy in the first, but teaming up with a character who admittedly raped and murdered a 12 year old girl is way out of question for him, his principle wouldn't allow it, Blondie was really slumming it in G,B&U. –  Raytrek Mar 29 at 15:09

Joseph What's-His-Name says in Hero of a Thousand Faces that there is really only one hero whose exploits are merely recounted in different forms throughout the millennia. So, yes, all the incarnations of the Man With No Name are the same character, as are all the other roles Clint Eastwood ever played, as well as those of Charlie Chaplin, and Achilles, and Rama, and...

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-1: Firstly, it's Joseph Campbell. Secondly, Campbell argued that the role of the hero has been subtlety altered and replicated throughout myths and legends, with each new story essentially containing snapshots of the fundamental hero story. This is in no way the same thing as saying all the characters are the same, but rather that their stories are inspired from a common source. Thirdly, this very idea is illogical, regardless of how dramatic it may sound. Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and Oskar Schindler were not the same person. I really, really hope I don't need to explain why. –  Andrew Martin Mar 25 at 10:49
    
So...Clint Eastwood played the same character in Paint Your Wagon, Trouble with the Curve, and Bridges of Madison County, alongside Dirty Harry, etc? –  JohnP Mar 25 at 15:02
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@JohnP: This could actually turn into a fun Internet game. At the end of Titanic, DiCaprio didn't die, he just washed up on the shore and Inception began, then... etc :) –  Andrew Martin Mar 25 at 15:28
    
@AndrewMartin Isn't there even such a thing exactly for DiCaprio?...Ah, found it. Movies & TV is becoming an increasingly comprehensive source of information, I guess. ;-) –  Sonny Burnett Mar 25 at 17:31
    
@NapoleonWilson: Yup, that's why I chose him as the example :) –  Andrew Martin Mar 25 at 17:31

While they're often considered part of the "Dollars Trilogy" it's been a long standing debate for years. Some will argue that Eastwood is playing the same character in all three (despite having different names in the credits), but Lee Van Cleef is clearly playing two totally different characters in "For a Few Dollars More" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly".

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There was nothing about Van Cleef in the question. –  JohnP Aug 11 at 21:47
    
This is also not an answer to the question. You've only said it's debatable. I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions. We're not a typical discussion forum. Don't be discouraged, we were all new here at some point. –  Meat Trademark Aug 11 at 23:00

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