Under discussion in this essay are Sergio Leone's great spaghetti western trilogy A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Sergio Leone's Wild West is a man's world. That may not be strong enough. It's more like a man's MAN'S world. The only women on display here are either idealized madonnas or sluttish tramps; put another way, they are women you can only dream of having, or those you simply wouldn't dream of having. Women are an afterthought throughout Leone's west, and there ain't much evidence that the men are competing for their affections. So, in this land nearly bereft of female presence, where women are rarely seen and never heard, what are the men to do with all that pent up energy? Why, they play with their guns, of course. That, and they light up. Constantly. The ubiquitous tobacco smoking vessels, whether cigars, cigarettes or pipes, and the lighting of same becomes a ritual that brims with either homo-eroticism or naked aggression (or, as I am wont to say when confronted with such artificial divisions, why not both?). When Lee van Cleef strikes a match on the hunchback of a young and deranged-looking Klaus Kinski (which distinguishes him in only one way from his later roles), he's laying claim to territory AND igniting a spark (in more ways than one.) It is an act that is equal parts seduction and consummation. Van Cleef has a well-groomed, high-cheek-boned androgyny which is accentuated by his designer handgun that comes with its own extra-long handle for greater accuracy (heh!) This is a gun, by the by, which Eastwood's character attempts to diminish by claiming he'd be ashamed to possess such a weapon. Their partnership in For a Few Dollars More is built on contrast-Eastwood is young (van Cleef calls him "boy"), masculine, cigar-smoking rugged, pre-verbal man of action, while the elder (Eastwood calls him "old man") van Cleef is more elegant, feline (love those whiskers), verbose, refined, pipe-smoking man with a plan. They are the western's version of the romcom's feuding love puppies.
Here's the trailer to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: