100 Must See Movies: The Essential Men’s Movie Library

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 13, 2009 · 698 comments

in Movies, Travel & Leisure


For whatever reason (most likely the fact that viewing is easier than reading), films don’t seem to get the same kind of cultural respect as books do. Which is a shame because excellent movies can be just as entertaining, mind-expanding, and life changing as good books. Scenes, characters, and quotes from the greatest movies stay with us long after we view them. Their ability to transport you to different times and exotic locations, to completely absorb you in the story, make movies one of the closest approximations of real magic we have in this world.

And for better and for worse, film has had a huge impact on masculinity in the 20th Century. Movies have produced archetypes of manliness that many men judge themselves against today. To view how male characters of cinema have been portrayed over the decades, is to see clearly the ways in which our perception of masculinity has changed and continues to change. Thus it seemed only proper that The Art of Manliness take a stab at creating a list of essential movies every man should see.

We didn’t want to make a list of movies that consisted solely of violence and gratuitous T and A that make up most guy movie lists. Nor did we want to create a list of just independent avant-garde movies that while culturally or cinematically significant, aren’t very entertaining. We wanted to create a well rounded list of films that have something to say about manliness. Some of the movies speak poignantly about what it means to be a man. Others give examples of true manliness in action. Some are lessons in how not to be a man. And others are simply entertaining movies that are just plain manly. But the common thread that runs through all of them is that they’re great movies that have stood the test of time.

Let us know in the comments which movies you loved, which ones you hated, and the movies you think every man should see before he dies. Without further ado, we present The Art of Manliness 100 Must See Movies for Men.

The Great Escape


This group of Allied POWS fought the enemy the best way they could – by bustin’ out of prison. Based on a true story, the film has been hailed as one the greatest escape movies of all time. Despite its length (172 minutes), the movie maintains interest through the engaging relationships of the prisoners. Each individual contributes their skills and personality to the effort, even the self-interested American (played by Steve McQueen). I guess his skill would be making killer motorcycle chase scenes.

Best line: “I’m going… out.”

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


Based loosely on the real lives of Western outlaws Robert Leroy Parker (aka Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (aka the Sundance Kid), Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid is a classic movie about two buddies trying to make it in a changing world. What’s funny about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is that you forget that these guys were hardened criminals who robbed banks and trains for a living. The easy going charm Robert Redford and Paul Newman bring to their roles makes you like the characters despite their choice of profession. Their clever hijinks and humor make the movie an enjoyable ride.

Best line: “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Dirty Harry


Cops that won’t let anything – even the law – stand in their way of catching the bad guy may have become a Hollywood cliché, but when Dirty Harry first pulled out his .44 magnum it was a brand new story. Harry Callahan stops at nothing as he hunts down the Scorpio, a serial killer that picks people off with a sniper rifle. The plot isn’t bad, but it’s Clint Eastwood that drives the entire picture. His rebel good- guy cop set a high mark for others to try and follow.

Best line: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

The Endless Summer


Working 60 hours a week sucks. I mean, it really sucks. The idea of travelling around the world to exotic spots with the simple objective of surfing every chance you get is about the most enticing thing on the planet. In step Mike Hynson and Robert August. Famed documentary director Bruce Brown follows the pair around the world as they chase the summer and whatever waves they can ride. If you can’t surf, or you can’t take the time off work to surf – live vicariously through this movie.

Bull Durham


This movie is great for many reasons – of which, I cite two: 1) Kevin Costner can actually play baseball, instead of looking like a moron as do many other actors trying to swing a bat. 2) Tim Robbins character wears lingerie when he pitches – which is completely classic. Besides these, there are many other elements that make the movie relevant: the mentor/mentee, the old vs. the young, fighting for the woman, baseball. But ultimately it’s about a bunch of guys trying to make their mark on life – which we can all certainly relate to.

Best line: “Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.”

The Apartment


Do nice guys always finish last? Not necessarily. The Apartment is a true gem of a movie that doesn’t seem get the attention it deserves. Both dramatic and funny, the film is a dark comedy about a corporate drone who finally gets tired of being constantly walked on, mans up, and becomes a mensch. Things don’t always work out when you do the right thing, but sometimes they do.

Best line: “Shut up and deal.”

The Shootist


Nobody wants to die alone. Especially gunslingers. In a haunting portrayal that foreshadowed his own fate, John Wayne plays J.B. Brooks, an aging gunfighter dying of cancer who resigns himself to live out his days in private. But skeletons from his past prevent him from fading away, so he decides to go down the only way he knows – with his six gun blazing.

Best line: “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”



At its core, Hoosiers is about redemption – basketball is just the vehicle. The story revolves around a basketball coach that has fallen from grace and finds himself at a small rural town in Indiana. He ruffles feathers and fights to earn the respect of his players, the town, and a doubtful teacher. The team chases glory, while others in the town remember what it is like to win. Not only is it one of the most inspiring movies of all time, it has one of the most hardcore stoics in all of sport movie history. Jimmy = Clutch.

Best line: “You know, most people would kill… to be treated like a god, just for a few moments.”

Last of the Mohicans


This movie set the standard for war epics of the modern era. Few are its equal. A Mohican father and his son, along with their adopted son, attempt to maintain their neutrality amidst the French-Indian War in colonial America. The men are pulled into the fray after rescuing two daughters of a British Officer during a skirmish and escorting them to their father’s fort. As the impending battle builds around them, the men remain devoted to the daughters, going to great lengths to preserve them. From the opening sequence of Uncas and Hawkeye sprinting through the dense forest, to the final scene on the promontory, the movie is gripping and powerful. Additionally, they play lacrosse in this movie – that fact alone secured its place on this list.

Best line: “Someday I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement.”

The Bicycle Thief


An Italian Neo-Realist classic, The Bicycle Thief tells the bleak story of a man in impoverished post-war Italy whose bicycle, which he needs to work, is stolen. Father and son hunt all over Rome to find the bike, with no one to help them and ultimately no success. And thus the father is faced with a classic philosophical problem: is it okay to steal to feed your family? Realistic and honest, this movie provides one of the best glimpses into the nature of the father/son relationship.

Best line: “Why should I kill myself worrying when I’ll end up just as dead?”

Field of Dreams

field_of_dreamsTo what lengths would a person go for a chance at reconciliation? If it is for your (dead) father, most of us would do anything. Field of Dreams is Ray Kinsellas’s journey of reparation with his father. Ray, an Iowa farmer, erects a baseball field in his cornfield after a voice tells him, “If you build it, he will come.” The voice continues, and after a series of mysterious and supernatural events, he is able to make amends. It is quite possible that a game of catch can heal most wounds between a father and son – even death, I suppose.

Best line: “If you build it, he will come.”

North by Northwest


Starring dapper dude, Cary Grant, North by Northwest is classic Alfred Hitchcock. Grant plays a hapless New York advertising executive mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. The problem is the government thinks he’s a spy, too, and they’re on the chase as well. Talk about a bad day.

Best line: “I don’t like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me.”

The Outsiders


The film adaption of SE Hinton’s famous novel perfectly captures the tumultuous nature of teenage angst. The well-to-do Socs and blue collar Greasers hate each other’s guts, and when Johnny the Greaser kills a Soc, a series of dramatic and tragic events are set in motion, including an old fashioned rumble. The film is a star-studded affair, filled with the likes of Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane, many before they were household names. And best of all, it was shot on location in my home city of Tulsa.

Best line: “Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.”

First Blood (Rambo)


The more weighty issues in First Blood are usually overshadowed by the gratuitous action. Understandably so, but the movie is built on Rambo’s struggle to return to society after the Vietnam War. A Medal of Honor recipient, Rambo is kicked out of a small town and then arrested for vagrancy. The sheriff and his deputies go overboard with torture and Rambo reverts back to what he does best. Nothing good can come from pissing off a guy named Rambo.

Best line: “They drew first blood, not me.”

The Manchurian Candidate


A Cold War classic starring Frank Sinatra in probably his best movie performance. The film was so controversial that it was banned from further release after JFK’s assassination. The Manchurian Candidate focuses on the way in which propaganda and the manufacture of political views can influence one’s perception and behavior in the most provocative of ways. The story follows several former Korean War soldiers who have been brainwashed by the military. Follow them as they try to unravel the source of the reoccurring nightmares. A real thriller. Don’t bother with the Denzel Washington version. The original is still the best.

Best line: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that enter a room and turn the television set on, and those that enter a room and turn the television set off.”

In the Heat of the Night

mpaintheheatofthenightposter.jpg Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a respected detective from up North, is thrown into a murder investigation in the small town of Sparta, Mississippi. While he initially doesn’t want any part of the case, Tibbs exemplifies manly resolve as he sticks around, staring down bigot after bigot while searching for the murderer. The film is famous for a scene in which Tibbs, after being slapped by a white man, slaps him right back. The screenplay originally called for Poitier to simply take it, but the actor found this passive response degrading and insisted he be allowed to hit back. That my friends, is being a man. You slap me in the face, I’ll slap you right back, Sucka.

Best line: “They call me MISTER Tibbs!”



A quiet gunslinger who is trying to escape his past befriends a pioneer family that has settled out west. He attempts to settle down and become a hired hand to the family, but the ranchers who want to drive cattle through the homesteaders’ property are attempting to drive them out. Shane tries to stay out of the disputes, but keeps being drawn in and is finally compelled to put his six shooter back on to protect his adoptive family. Perhaps the most touching part of the movie is the relationship Shane develops with the farmer’s son.

Best line: “A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

Double Indemnity


Perhaps the greatest American contribution to the film noir style, Double Indemnity is dark rumination on greed, manipulation, and betrayal. Barbara Stanwyck plays a classic femme fatale who uses her womanly wiles to lure insurance salesman Walter Neff into a plan to kill her husband for the “double indemnity” payout. But Neff is not a guileless victim after all. Palatable tension, suspense, and snappy dialogue make this film a true classic.

Best line: “How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?”

Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside)


Politics of euthanasia aside, living is so much more than just breathing. Based on the life of Ramón Sampedro, the movie examines the fight to end his own life after 30 years of being paralyzed from the neck down. Despite his desire to end his life, through his courage and self awareness, he inspired others to embrace their own.

The Maltese Falcon


The Maltese Falcon is filled with ambiguities in morality. Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, is a hardened and cynical man. But underneath his rough exterior is a man with a sense of idealism. Spade lives by a code of honor that doesn’t let him take the corrupt and easy solution to life’s problems. The Maltese Falcon forces us to answer a simple question: when push comes to shove, will we stick to our own code of honor or will we sell out?

Best line: “[It's the] stuff that dreams are made of.”

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{ 682 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hutch July 13, 2009 at 5:57 am

I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time, and it doesn’t disappoint! Great list you guys. I was getting a little nervous that Indy wasn’t going to be included, but you came through on page 5. Also, loved the multiple John Wayne and Bogart flicks.

I’d also include The Goonies, The Rundown, Tombstone, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Abyss, and Legends of the Fall to my personal list.

2 paul Thompson July 13, 2009 at 6:05 am

Phew, for a minute there I thought you were not going to include ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Atticus Finch is my role model when it comes to being a man.

I would also add ‘When We Were Kings’ to this list … how to keep believing in yourself when nobody else thinks you can win.

Easy to forget how many GREAT films Paul Newman was in till you see a list like this.

3 Jay Gene Kizer July 13, 2009 at 7:11 am

I’m sorry to see that your list does not include Boondock Saints, and is therefore incomplete. How sad. I think that is perhaps the ultimate man-movie, up with Fight Club.

4 Rich July 13, 2009 at 7:31 am

Is it a typo or did you recommend Godfather 1 and 3 but not 2?

5 Kirk July 13, 2009 at 7:44 am

Just in time for my Netflix list to need updating, thanks!

6 Kirk July 13, 2009 at 7:47 am

P.S. – Thanks for giving some love to “Last of the Mohicans” – this is at the top of my favorite movie list. The soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

7 cl July 13, 2009 at 7:50 am

Great list

I’d like to suggest another great man movie; The Man Who Would Be King, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

Also, as Rich already said, why not Godfather 2? It’s the best one in the trilogy IMO.

8 cl July 13, 2009 at 7:54 am

Forgot to say I also think the 2 other movies from Leones trilogy should be mentioned. Especially For A Few Dollars More. The scenes with the pocket watch chime are really awesome.

9 Dr. Awesome July 13, 2009 at 8:05 am


Great list. I’ve been working on a 100 Man Movies list myself, a lot of what I have overlapping with what you got. But, one that I thought should be included in your list is Memento. It was done by Christopher Nolan before he had the blockbuster type cash for Batman Begins and The Dark Night, so it is very story driven. It revolves around a gimmick of a story line where the main guy, Leonard, has short term memory loss and forgets everything once he goes to sleep causing him to have write down or tattoo himself with stuff he wants to remember. The same person that caused Leonard’s condition also killed his wife and now Leonard is set on revenge. The only problem he doesn’t remember who did it. And if he does get revenge….will he remember it? I highly recommend it, a great story and a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan pee in his pants.

Also, I can’t believe Tombstone was left off your list?

10 Tabrias July 13, 2009 at 8:07 am

I was going to complain that Seven Samurai should be on here, till I saw that it was. Very surprising.

I agree with Fight Club being included, though since first seeing it a few years ago I know consider it just kind of pretentious and stupid.

I that Godfather 2 should be included, as well as Boondock Saints.

Also, John Q. is sorely missing from this list (if you haven’t seen it, you’re really missing out. If you had seen it, it would be on here) as well as The Green Mile.

Honestly anything starring Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington should be on here in my opinion.

And if you ever do a TV series list, make sure Breaking Bad is on there.

Lastly, any film made by Pixar, excluding the Cars series. Again, if you have to ask why you obviously haven’t seen any of Pixar’s films. Also good for watching with your kids.

11 Trish Lewis July 13, 2009 at 8:07 am

I’m almost (almost) speechless – GREAT list!!

12 Lady Warwick July 13, 2009 at 8:08 am

Well. I’m obviously not a man but I think We could add a few good epic movies to that list:

- Kingdom of Heaven
- Master and Commander (Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are both REAL men)
- The last Samurai (If you don’t like Tom Cruise focus on Ken Watanabe !)
- The man in the Iron Mask (the one musketeer movie that actually isn’t a parody)
- V for Vendetta
- Letters from Iwo Jima
- …

Honestly, how can you stop at 100 ???

13 Scott July 13, 2009 at 8:16 am

If I only got to see one Western, I’d pick “Hang ‘Em High,” in which Clint Eastwood’s character learns the hard line between justice and revenge.

14 Neil July 13, 2009 at 8:16 am


What a fantastic list. Just enough on it that I’ve seen (and liked) to identify with the list. Enough that I haven’t seen to give interesting film viewing for quite a while!

15 Peter July 13, 2009 at 8:17 am

Had this list been complied one year from now, there is no doubt in my mind that Gran Torino would be on it. This movie is destined to become another essential movie for a man’s library: the whole film is about a real man teaching a young man how to be a man!
Best line: “You see kid, now that’s how guys talk to one another.”

16 Jason July 13, 2009 at 8:17 am


Great list! I’ll have to update my Netflix to include some of the ones I haven’t seen. However, I’d like to add one for the list as well: Mel Gibson’s Apocolypto.

Great story about what a man will go through to protect those he loves and how he overcomes extreme odds to do it. War-like tribe, jungle critters, a raging river, you name it. Plus, it has Mel’s classic realism in all of the fight scenes. This is a SUPER MUST for any man to see.

17 Chris July 13, 2009 at 8:36 am

@Scott: “Hang ‘Em High” is good, but when seen back-to-back with “The Unforgiven”, then the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Worthy, but overlooked: “Mosquito Squadron”, “Sink the Bismarck”, “Hamburger Hill”, “Tigerland”, “Gallipoli” and – believe it or not – the Eminem pseudo-biopic “Eight Mile”.

18 Paul July 13, 2009 at 8:43 am

You meant Godfather I and II, right?

19 Dave July 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

Great list glad you included 7 Samuri, too bad not enough room for Magnificient 7 yes its a remake of the other, but good in its own right. I can’t wit to watch the ones I have not seen.
Good stuff
Keep it coming.

20 Lady Warwick July 13, 2009 at 8:50 am

I’ve been thinking about that list and I have to add a few more:

- The patriot (that movie has everything !)
- King Arthur
- Batman begins (I haven’t seen the Dark knight yet but…)
- Armaggedon
- The 13th warrior
- American History X
- …

21 John July 13, 2009 at 9:03 am

While you did include Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, you missed Leone’s epic spaghetti western “Once Upon a Time in the West”. The climactic gunfight is the greatest of all times, and Ennio Morricone’ musical score is second to none.

22 Bob July 13, 2009 at 9:15 am

It is a pretty good list when you consider all the movies ever created. I would submit for consideration The Sandlot, Stand by Me, and A Christmas Story.

23 Andrew Barbour July 13, 2009 at 9:22 am

Brett, I will have to correct you on one minor point. It is widely acknowledged that the best line in Cool Hand Luke is not “What we have here is failure to communicate”, but rather, “I can eat fifty eggs.” :)

24 jeremy July 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

The best line from “First Blood” is …”I’m your worst nightmare.” Also…manliest best damn movie of them all is John Carpenter’s the Thing.

25 Patrick July 13, 2009 at 9:36 am

No Black Hawk Down? It’s the penultimate brotherhood movie, a bunch of guys, fighting only for each other and the montra “Leave no man behind”.

26 Sargon July 13, 2009 at 9:40 am

John Wayne’s character in “The Shootist” is J.B. Books (John Bernard Books), not J.B. Brooks.

27 Kathryn July 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

Not a man, obviously, but I wrote a doctoral dissertation on masculinity, so I guess that gives me some sort of credentials. I would have liked to see more of Dustin Hoffman’s early work featured, as I think he takes up the question of “what does it mean to be a man?” in interesting ways in various films. Kramer vs. Kramer, in particular, stands out as a pivotal film during a time when our cultural understandings of fatherhood were undergoing significant transformations. Indeed, I wish you had included more films that pay homage to the difficult struggles and quiet heroism of fatherhood.

28 Patrick S July 13, 2009 at 9:58 am

I suggest The Four Feathers 1939 film. It is an incredible story of sacrifice and redemption! One of my all time favorite movies. I look every chance I get for a DVD of the movie and can’t find one yet.

29 Josh July 13, 2009 at 9:59 am

Thanks — great list. I have a lot of watching to do, especially on the old flicks.

What about Pulp Fiction?

30 David July 13, 2009 at 10:13 am

I would also add:
The Adventures of Robin Hood

31 Zachariah July 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

Great list! There are so many possibilities…here are a few of my “must sees”

Excalibur (still the best King Arthur tale)
Night Falls on Manhattan (may only merit an honorable mention)
Gone with the Wind (dude, Clark Gable)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (I know, Connery is the man but this is the best Bond film)

I don’t think any of the Batman movies merit serious consideration. If you do pick one, go with the Michael Keaton original. Of all the films in the superhero genre, I’d choose Superman to represent them. I think we could have done with only the first Godfather movie, and my favorite Indy movie is the first: Raiders of the Lost Ark. G-d’s wrath unleashed on the Nazis…priceless.

32 Michael T July 13, 2009 at 10:23 am

FYI, Jeremiah Johnson is based on a true story but his name was not “Jeremiah”.
(Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver-Eating_Johnson )

33 Wayne July 13, 2009 at 10:24 am

My father in law loves to remind me that the greatest point of Casablanca is that it was written and produced before the end of WWII when the Nazis were winning the war and yet this movie ends with the Germans losing. Great not only for the manliness factor, but for this reason as well! Good list. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

34 Alex July 13, 2009 at 10:34 am

I am surprised to only see one Connery film and a few Cane films. Also I think Dogtown and the Z boys and Riding Giants should be added as they are two of the best documenties ever.

35 David Kjos July 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

Not a bad list. I have to disagree with your best line from “The Shootist,” though. I think the “I won’t be wronged” line is a particularly bad example of manhood. I’d say the best line is what immediately follows that.

Gillom Rogers: Mr. Books, how’d you ever kill so many men?

J. B. Books: I lived most of my life in the wild country, set a code of laws to live by: I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid-a-hand-on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

GR: How could you get into so many fights, and always come out on top? I nearly tied you shooting.

JBB: Friend, there’s nobody up there shooting back at you. It isn’t always being fast, or even accurate, that counts, it’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. they blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won’t.

Best line: “It isn’t always being fast, or even accurate, that counts, it’s being willing.”

Great movie, my favorite John Wayne by far.

36 Aaron Dale July 13, 2009 at 10:53 am

Your first pick was one of my favorites….”The Great Escape”.

I’ll submit these as must see for all men:

Cool Hand Luke –
Steve McQueen exemplifies the inner struggle of a man trying to go along with “the boss” but while trying to maintain his stature as a man in the view of his inmates. Classic – a must must see!

The Hunt For Red October –
Sean Connery, Alec Baldwyn – In 1984, the USSR’s best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect, or to start a war? Connery demonstrates how personal inner convictions can trump the dictates of a tyrant government.

Life Is Beautiful –
A 1997 Italian language film which tells the story of a Jewish Italian, Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni, who also directed and co-wrote the film), who must employ his fertile imagination to help his son survive their internment in a Nazi concentration camp. – English Sub-titles. Father and son relationship is so enormous – will bring all Father’s to love their children more.

37 Brett R July 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

You have at least four movies that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, one glaring omission (300), but any list that includes Zulu and Das Boot is good by me.

I will always be a sucker for movie lists. Is that a man quality?

38 Steve Anthony July 13, 2009 at 11:03 am

Excellent list. Of course, there are some I’d disagree with, but you can’t please everyone. Three I’d definitely include are:

ROB ROY- A personal favorite and none better to demonstrate the importance of personal integrity, even in the face of catastrophic cost to you and your loved ones.


39 Brett July 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

Great additions everyone! It was definitely difficult to narrow it to 100. And Goonies, Chris, of course!

And yes thanks for pointing out the typo in the Godfather-it should indeed be I and II. Although I am a fan of III as well.

40 Cody July 13, 2009 at 11:59 am

I definitely agree about to Kill A Mockingbird. The Bicycle Thief reminded me of “Life is Beautiful”, this amazing movie in all Italian. The movie actually reaches it highest and funniest point when the main characters, arrive at a Nazi concentration camp. Check it out, and amazing list!

41 Jason July 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm

A few classics of what it means to be a real man:
High Noon – what it takes to stand up for what is right even when everyone else wants to do what’s easy.

The Searchers – dedication and heart are manly virutes, even in the seemingly worst of men.

Johnny Guitar – you can try to forget your past, but your past won’t forget you.

HUD – well the antithesis of what it means to be a man. PS-contrast the openning shot of Shane with the openning shot of Hud’s pink cadillac.

All that Heaven Allows – Rock Hudson: he loves the outdoors and the woman of his dreams, even if her suburban neighbors won’t let her love him.

Jaws – when real men band together for a common cause, you don’t need a bigger boat.

On the Waterfront – your first shot might be your only shot; take it.

Some others:
12 Angry Men
The Big Heat
Stand By Me
3:10 to Yuma (either one)

42 Jason July 13, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Clearly didn’t see the whole list before commenting…but might as well add two great Kubrick films:
Paths of Glory
Dr. Strangelove

43 Liam July 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Cindarella Man is a personal favourite.

44 Blake July 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Overall a very solid list, but how can you do a list of manly movies and not include The Wild Bunch, arguably one of the most important ‘man’ movies of all time?

45 Hutch July 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I can see that this post is destined to be at the top of the popular posts list for a long time to come.

I thought of some more. I second the addition of Black Hawk Down and the Patriot. There is one film that definitely deserves a place, and that is Spartacus. I would also probably want to put a few more Bogart classics: In A Lonely Place, Key Largo, and The Big Sleep. Also, Conan the Barbarian makes my list. That movie just drips testosterone.

46 Devon July 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm

No Truman Show? Hmm… How can this be?

47 Andy July 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Would have been good to cut a war movie or western out to make room for Good Will Hunting and A Beautify Mind. While a fine list, this list doesn’t do justice to the brilliance of man.

48 Manimal July 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Das Boot — great movie, so glad to see that on your list.

Someone above recommended The Thing. I second that one too. Another classic.

49 WE Dodge July 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Wow, I have a completely different list – does anybody relate to these?

The Man without a face – (Mel Gibson)
12 Angry Men
The Caine Mutiny
We Were Soldiers
Cinderella Man

50 The3rd July 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I swear I was going to throw something if Lawrence of Arabia wasn’t on the list. It was and you also got the correct best line! Good work as usual!

“The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”

51 Titus July 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm

This is mostly a good list, but there are some pretty boneheaded mistakes. I’ll only mention the most egregious, and I’ll pass over the stench of political correctness that hangs like a foul computerized cloud over the whole list (Malcolm X yes, Gone with the Wind no?)

For starters, The Shootist is the single worst movie John Wayne ever made. You can see that same character in a dozen Wayne movies and not have to tolerate the schlock, bad 1970s stage blood, and irksome Ron Howard performance that mar The Shootist.

Second, if American Beauty is a man’s movie, so is Fried Green Tomatoes. Every character in its insipid excuse for a plot is as far from a role model as possible. There isn’t even a good villain, just a bunch of mealy-mouthed losers. The movie is only suitable for someone who wants to sip cosmos and mope about.

High Noon: Gary Cooper runs about scared all day and then needs his wife to rescue him. Give me a break. Furthermore, this film is so pink around the edges you could give it as a Valentine’s Day gift. Watch Rio Bravo instead.

The French Connection: highly over-rated. It’s not nearly as thrilling as it’s booked as, the characters are only haphazardly developed, and the plot has less real resolution than the original Italian Job, without the benefit of that movie’s gag. Like everything else about the 1970s, it was simply highly unsatisfying.

A minor quibble: you have the wrong best lines from Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. The former’s ought to be: “I support a constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter.” The latter’s is, “‘Hey, Blue, how about a warning?’ ‘OK: Hey, Kid, try not to get yourself killed.’”

52 Titus July 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Sed contra the calls for the inclusion of Boondock Saints: this film was 90% unrealized potential, 5% great music, and 5% “we couldn’t actually find a Catholic to consult on our movie about Irish vigilantes.” It could have been a great movie. It was not. Even subtracting the crummy movies from this list, there are enough great films (e.g. The Thin Man) to keep Boondock Saints off, and rightfully so.

53 David July 13, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I’d add the movie “Lord Jim” to the list. Watching Peter O’Toole struggle with the question of what is the different between a hero and a coward is a good lesson for any man (with plenty of action as well). Best line (as best I can remember), is the narration from Conrad’s book from which the movie is based, “Rich or poor, young or old, strong or weak – who among you have not begged God for a second chance?”

54 Rich July 13, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Overall a great list.

Dittos to the recommendations for “HUD” and “Apocolypto” — both terrific movies.

I also have to concur with the thumbs down on “American Beauty” — simply an awful movie.

A couple of recommendations I have and don’t think I saw in the comments:

– “Von Ryan’s Express”: Good Frank Sinatra movie.

– “Marathon Man”: Good Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider suspense flick

– “To Have and Have Not”: One of Bogey’s best. Lauren Bacall is gorgeous and the chemistry between her and Bogey is electric. It also has some great lines:

Bacall kisses Bogey:
Bogey: What did you do that for?
Bacall: I’ve been wondering if I’d like it.
Bogey: What’s the decision?
Bacall: I don’t know yet.
[They kiss again]
Bacall: It’s even better when you help.

Bacall: You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.

55 Unsubstantive Kurt July 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I would add ‘Mad Max’ and ‘The Road Warrior’.

56 BM July 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm

How about “The Hunt For Red October”. I thought that was the perfect movie for a male audience.

57 JPo July 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Yo, where’s Forrest Gump?

58 Atarizen / Doodle Vandal Chris July 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Just as I was getting ready to leave a comment saying “and where is Ghost Busters” there it was! Great list!

59 kevin July 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm

You couldn’t put any foreign films? I would add Seven Samurai.

60 Carlos July 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Have to counter about best quote from North by Northwest….

“Ever kill anyone? Because I bet you could tease a man to death without half trying… So, stop trying.”

61 Sean July 13, 2009 at 1:58 pm

There aren’t a lot of new movies on this list, but that tp be expected when looking for really good movies. Also, as an animation major, I am very happy to see Iron Giant on the list. That was a great film. Brad Bird does really nice work.
I do have one that I would add (like everyone else), and that would be Gran Torino. That movie instantly jumped up to probably one of my top 10 favorite movies the moment I saw it in the theater.

62 BK July 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Tombstone & Meet Joe Black were hopefully 101 / 102

Kevin: Seven Samurai’s on page5

63 Ralph July 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm

You missed Predator, Conan the Barbarian, and Terminator. Sure they are all Arnold Movies but so what? They are AWESOME. Conan in particular has a great score, and fighting scenes that, although ridiculously bloody, are probably the most realistic fighting scenes to date. No long sword fights. They all end pretty quick.

64 Brett July 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Aaron-Cool Hand Luke is on here.

WE Dodge-12 Angry Men, Rudy, and Cinderella Man are all on here.

Kevin-Seven Samurai is on the list. And Mar Dentro, Das Boot, and the The Bicycle Thief are all foreign films.

Gonna have to check out Gran Torino. Haven’t seen it yet, but it seems like a must see. Keep the great recommendations coming!

65 H man July 13, 2009 at 2:06 pm

You left off my favorite western. The man who shot Liberty Valence. Truly asks what is worth fighting for and when is violence justified. Not to mention that hokey but enjoyable theme song.

For the Apollo 13 fans in the Chicago area. In the north suburb of Lake Forest Jim Lovell has a restaurant called Lovell’s. In the basement is what used to be a cigar bar until the law in Illinois was changed. There you’ll see memoribllia of Lovell’s NASA career.

66 mike July 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

There’s a bit much Kevin Costner in here for my liking… I would Add Casino Royale as well…

67 mkokc July 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Great work as always, Brett.
Two additions I would make:
* Lillies of the Field: Sidney Portier at his peak. A simple film about the honesty and holiness of hard work. I read the book every year.
* Gran Torino: A new addition, sure, but really strikes a cord about an older man teacher a boy how to be a man. The barber shop scene is classic, crude, curse-filled and, ultimately, about respect.

68 Ryan July 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Great list! And I’m really glad to see Zulu in there. It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies and I remember watching it with him when I was younger.

69 Matt July 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Remember the Titans but NOT The Outlaw Josey Wales? Disney schlock over Eastwood’s greatest performance?

Other than that, good list.

70 Matt July 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

The quotes alone should have been enough to get Wales on:

“Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is. ”

“Josey Wales: When I get to likin’ someone, they ain’t around long.
Lone Watie: I notice when you get to DISlikin’ someone they ain’t around for long neither. ”

“Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie? ”

“Jamie: I wish we had time to bury them fellas.
Josey Wales: To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms. ”

“Bounty hunter #1: You’re wanted, Wales.
Josey Wales: Reckon I’m right popular. You a bounty hunter?
Bounty hunter #1: A man’s got to do something for a living these days.
Josey Wales: Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.”

“Laura Lee: Kansas was all golden and smelled like sunshine.
Josey Wales: Yeah, well, I always heard there were three kinds of suns in Kansas, sunshine, sunflowers, and sons-of-bitches. ”

“Captain Terrill: Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men wherever he goes.”

“Lone Watie: That meal was damn good. I’m gonna take up teepee livin’ if it’s like this. You know she thinks I’m some kind of a Cherokee chief.
Josey Wales: I wonder where she ever got that idea. “

71 Lauren July 13, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I think overall these are great movies. I am planning to forward this to my boyfriend to see what he thinks about it and the movies we should rent!

72 Chris Partida July 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I just watched The Great Escape on Saturday, awesome.

I’ll have to work through the list now.

73 Matt July 13, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Thanks for posting this man-it’s really an excellent list. I’d have Donny Darko in there somewhere though.

74 Dimitar Nikolov July 13, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Great movies! I would add to the list The Godfather & Gran Torino.

75 Cooler King July 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

There’s only one Scorcese movie on the ilst and it’s arguably his worst one? Where’s Raging Bull? Taxi Driver? Goodfellas? All are infinitely better than Gangs of New York.

76 Rich July 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

mkokc wrote:
* Lillies of the Field: Sidney Portier at his peak. A simple film about the honesty and holiness of hard work. I read the book every year.

That is a great movie. I love the scene where Sidney Portier teaches the sisters to sing the chorus of an old black spiritual.

Lillies of the Field makes me think to suggest adding “Going My Way” with Bing Crosby.

Finally, I have to disagree (respectfully) with all the votes for Gran Torino. I did not like it at all. I thought the barber shop, learn how to curse and insult scene was offensive; and thought the ending was ridiculous.

77 Joe July 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I would have to put 300 in there. A movie about going to war with your brothers, knowing you may die but doing it anyway because you are the king and it is the only way to save your country. Great battles, a small love story, passion, and an all around manly movie.

78 Steve Anthony July 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm

After reading the comments, I would second (or third) the following:

The Patriot
Hunt for Red October
Letters From Iwo Jima
Outlaw Josie Wales
Raging Bull
Kingdom of Heaven-
-”When the Christians took this city, they killed every Muslim man, woman and child within its walls”
-”I am not those men. I am Saladin…Saladin.”
-”What is Jerusalem worth?”

Also, please remove American Beauty. It defiles the rest of the list by its presence.

79 Dan the Man July 13, 2009 at 4:27 pm

This is a great list. I’d put “Rear Window” in place of “Vertigo”, dump “American Beauty” because I think it’s a horrible movie, and put “Blade Runner” in somewhere. I’m not really keen on the Star Wars trilogy, but can understand why it was put on there. Otherwise, this is a fantastic list. For part of my day, I’ll be reading books off the book list and then for the other part, watching movies off of this list. How about a 100 Manly Albums list?

80 Trevor Beard July 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Only one Akira Kirasawa movie? If any director epitomizes the Art of Manliness it is Akira Kirasawa, I suggest Yojimbo (the western ripoff being Fistful of Dollars), as well as Rashoman, The Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood (retelling of King Lear), and Red Beard. But I am glad that seven samurai made the list, it is very entertaining, and important even in this day and age.

81 Wuja July 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I like many of the movies mention on this list. I would like to add Men of Honor with Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding Jr.

82 Craig July 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

This list is extraordinary. I was delighted and surprised by a lot of the movies on here. “The Iron Giant”? Brilliant call. I agree with others who have nominated “Tombstone” for the list and the only other I can think of off the top of my head would be “Master and Commander” — a terrific study of brotherhood and duty and, in my humble opinion, a far better Russell Crowe flick than “Gladiator”. It was one of those movies that ran on HBO about 762 times one month and I watched it 4 times and loved it each time. But, like I said, an unbelievable list. Maybe the first of it’s kind that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out.

83 Rich July 13, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Dan the Man wrote:
I’d put “Rear Window” in place of “Vertigo”.

Great pick — can’t believe I overlooked it. Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors. And, Grace Kelly — wow. Apart from my wife, one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Thinking of Grace Kelly, I’d also add “Dial ‘M’ for Murder”. It’s a great murder mystery and, once again, Grace Kelly is stunningly beautiful.

84 Cameron July 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Fantastic list. From the looks of the comments it looks like you nearly pleased everyone — quite impossible with these sorts of lists. I like the mix of the the films you would expect along with some pretty original ones.

Thanks for taking the time to put all this together.

85 Bryan July 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I might be alone on this, but what about The Goonies. One of my childhood favorites. Inspirationl tale of a close group of friends risking life and limb to save the town they grew up in. Great list by the way!

86 Matt July 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm

A great list! A few I would have added:

Big Lebowski
Raising Arizona (You need at least one Coen Bros. movie)
The Shining
Dr. Stangelove
Full Metal Jacket (same with some Kubrick)
The Thing
Close Encounters
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Incredibles

87 max July 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Kudos for including The Best Years of Our Lives which is an overlooked film.

But…no The Quiet Man?? That is the best man movie.

88 Ken July 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm

The Sea Inside was the slowest movie Ive seen in a long time. I suppose it got its point across because I wanted to kill my myself to put myself out of the misery of watching the movie.

89 Dave Lewis July 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Here’s my additions to the list:

Enemy at the Gates – made me go out and buy a Nagant
Quigley Down Under – great work with a Sharps
Band of Brothers – “Did you think that you could win?”
Predator – “You’re an ugly ****”
Predator II – “Who’s next?”

90 Eric July 13, 2009 at 5:51 pm

I am so glad to see both Chinatown and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest on this list. They are two of my favourite movies, definitely my two favourites with Jack Nicholson.

91 Mac July 13, 2009 at 5:54 pm

“The Last Detail”

“The Great Santini”

“Heaven Knows Mr Allison”

“Tender Mercies”

“The Enemy Below”

92 Matt Brown July 13, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Great list. I would ad “Red Dawn” if I could. Love the site keep up the good work!

93 Jon July 13, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I highly recommend Life is Beautiful. This movie changed the way that I live my life. I saw the movie when I was in college, at a time when a movie wasn’t good unless it contained gratuitous sex and violence. My roommate brought it home for us to watch because his mom said it was awesome, so I prepared myself for a two hour nap. Holy crapola was I ever surprised. At that point in my life I had never seen a father with such an undying love for his son; a love that could be stopped by ABSOLUTELY nothing. I can honestly say that Life is Beautiful is one of my all time favorite movies.

94 Chris July 13, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Great List. How about Treasure of the Sierra Madre, A Man Called Horse, and Little Big Man?

95 Jared July 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

This is a great list and definitely gives me some movies I need to rent soon. My additions would have been:

Pulp Fiction
Apocalypse Now
Three Kings

96 Biggyrat July 13, 2009 at 9:45 pm

O Brother Where Art Thou

“Well now,,,aint this place a geographical oddity? Two weeks from everwhere.”

“No thanks Delmar. A third of a gopher would only arouse my appitite, without beddin’ ‘er back down.”

“Well a’int that a coincidence. These two soggy sons o bitches just got saved. I guess I’m the only one that remains unaffiliated.”

Somebody stop me.

97 Nathan R. July 13, 2009 at 9:50 pm

What about “The Dark Knight,” I know it’s a comic-book movie, but it really defines the gangster genre. The list is good, it makes me want to resubscribe to NetFlix.

98 R. Scott Buchanan July 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Two that I’d submit for consideration:

Network (1976). A very mid-20th century look at what happens when you take away everything that a man has lived for his whole life. Best line: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Breaking Away (1979). One of the best coming of age films ever. It feels very timely again now, given this recession. Best line: “I was proud of my work. And the buildings went up. When they were finished the damnedest thing happened. It was like the buildings were too good for us. Nobody came out and told us that, it just felt uncomfortable, that’s all.”

99 bob July 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

that is a fairly bolshie, jingoistic, cowboy-centric list. more brawn than brain there i think. i am therefore i think.

100 Ammon July 13, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Fantastic list! Not sure what I’d remove from it to add a few of my favs which didn’t make the cut . . .
The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Race and A Shot in the Dark (Blake Edwards), Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks), and Silverado.

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