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 }

101 Mark July 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I didn’t work through all the comments, so maybe somebody already said this but there is an error in your description of Casablanca. Ilse was already married to Victor when Rick and Ilse were seeing each other in Paris. Ilse thought at the time that Victor was dead. When she found out, on the eve of the occupation, that Victor was still alive, she quickly left Rick–causing him to become embittered. However, when Ilse and Victor later entered Rick’s, Victor was not her “new husband,” as your description says, but her long-time husband. Otherwise, well done on the list.

102 Steve July 14, 2009 at 12:41 am

Ahh finally a good list! However, on my own list I would add a few:

American History X
Band of Brothers
Mystery Alaska
The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford
Green Mile
Young Frankenstein
Big Lebowski (Absolute Necessity)

103 Dave July 14, 2009 at 1:30 am

I know you have hit the hundred mark, but I would recommend the Lilies of the Field starring Sidney Poitier. It is about a man living alone, pressed into the service of others.

104 Greg July 14, 2009 at 1:34 am

Well, like just about everyone else, I’ve my list of additions. Thing is that most of the 25 or so I’d append have already been added. Here are two that should go on the list:

The Cruel Sea.

Henry V (The Brannaugh [sp] version) “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…”

105 Carl Muthman July 14, 2009 at 2:16 am

Great list but I thought it was missing a few:

Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom
The Patriot with Mel Gibson
The Four Feathers—a real old classic, not the newer version
The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood..unless I missed it on the list
Rob Roy with Liam Neeson…I thought this was a great movie but overlooked by many critics
Trinity Series with Terence Hill…I don’t think they would make the top 100 list but they were great flicks for laughs

106 Damien July 14, 2009 at 2:18 am

Good list, should be 150 movies. A Christmas Story is a must.
This site is great. Normally, when you see a list of movies there are several complaints about them being out-of-date. The problem is that most people today don’t know how to watch a movie.

107 alex July 14, 2009 at 3:08 am

No Full Metal Jacket? No Big Lebowski?

108 TheBigBoss July 14, 2009 at 4:31 am

I guess you should change the name of your post title to :
“100 Must See (AMERICAN) Movies: The Essential Men’s Movie Library !!”

Did you ever heard about French movies ?? European movies ?? Asian movies ??
What about “La grande bouffe” ? “Delicatessen” ?
Some popular French movies – http://www.epinions.com/content_5233156228. Note that I usually hate French movies (too pseudo-intellectual) but “La Grande Bouffe” is a must.

And Emir Kusturica ?? And Kurosawa ?? And Jacques Tati ??

Anyway, it seems we do not have the same taste !!
Braveheart, Remember the Titans, The Karate Kid, Groundhog Day, Top Gun= Is this a joke ?? Really ??

What about Scorsese’s movies ? You prefer “Gang of New York” than “After Hours”, “Raging Bull”, “Goodfellas” or “Casino” ?


109 Ankit July 14, 2009 at 4:31 am

Gr* list. Good work done!

110 Sean July 14, 2009 at 5:36 am

How could you not have the movie Road to Perdition on this list. If you seen the movie then I don’t have to tell you why it belongs.

111 Dan July 14, 2009 at 8:52 am

What, not a single 3 Stooges movie or short? And just a couple of token, white-bread comedies at the end of the list? Totally W E A K.

112 Umbratikus July 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

Great list. I agree with most of them. However, surprised to see missing from the list Dances with Wolves, Castaway, Platoon, Casualties of War, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Bounty, Casablanca, and Romancing the Stone (“Woohoo. It’s turnin’ out to be one Hell of a morning”).

113 Lyle July 14, 2009 at 9:05 am

When talking about movies with my friends ONE movie ALWAYS comes up…

Kelly’s Heroes

114 Phill Hunt July 14, 2009 at 9:29 am

Thanks for the list. I’d agree on all those that I’ve seen except Gladiator. Russell really gave me the willies in that for some reason.

One of my abiding memories is going to sleep on my father’s lap watching ben Hur at the drive in.

115 Ted July 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

Great List. I would add
Kingdom of Heaven
A Perfect World
For The Love of the Game

116 Joe July 14, 2009 at 11:16 am

Good list…two very important man comedies missing: Caddyshack and Slapshot!

117 Jeff July 14, 2009 at 11:21 am

I remember watching Papillon, The African Queen and Billy Jack when I was a kid and they all left such vivid memories that I still think about them today.

118 Andy July 14, 2009 at 11:33 am

Great list. I don’t see too many movies, but I have to second many of the choices here. Love “Dead Poets’ Society” and “Groundhog Day.” A big part of manliness is getting the most that you can out of each day.

How about “Gran Torino” as a modern example? That movie is so manly!

119 Blake Helgoth July 14, 2009 at 11:56 am

Good list,

However, you missed:
We Were Soldiers (how could you miss that one?)
A Few Good Men
Bella (yes, it is about manning up)
Miracle On Ice
A Man for All Season (a classic man’s movie!)
Becket (it doesn’t get more manily than this!)

120 Blake Helgoth July 14, 2009 at 11:58 am

Oh, and one more:
The The Pursuit of Happyness ( a great man-up movie)

121 Wil July 14, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Just for the record… Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom beats the Last Crusade… Hands Down!

122 Brett July 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I would really like to see these movies in a printable list format. Do you have that?

123 Jim Schmidt July 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I wandered across “The Apartment” one night on cable, and stuck around for a few minutes to check out the period piece. Then I saw the actors, recognized a few of them, and stuck around a few minutes longer. Then I saw Shirley Maclaine, and the character interactions, and I was hooked. What starts off as a light-hearted flick really takes some dark and interesting turns. It really is an overlooked movie, and one I would highly recommend.

124 Steven July 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I’m pretty surprised that movies somehow make you more of a man. This is the most ridiculous article I’ve seen this website post. Lest we forget:

“Society everywhere is in a conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members”

Movies make you less of a man, plain and simple. I realized this over the past year, after being an avid movie watcher and am now in the process of selling or giving away all my DVDs. Seriously, switch the focus back to virtues. The articles on Ben Franklin were fantastic but this is pure fluff.

125 Chris Johnston July 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Well, you’ve got Steve McQueen pretty well covered, but I’d add one more: Le Mans.
The most perfect racing movie ever made, IMHO.
I was 8 years old when it came out, and it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.
No more “kiddie movies” for me after that!
Saw it a bunch of times in the theatres, and then another 237 times or so when I found it on DVD (wore out my player by running it on Loop for about 2 weeks straight)!
Many people criticize it’s lack of conventional story structure, but I love it precisely *because* of that! There’s almost no dialogue in it, and you could just tell Steve McQueen was really driving that car! Cinematography and editing were spellbinding, just like it says on the DVD cover.

126 Laurent Henninger July 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm

A French cinephile point of view…

I agree with many of the movies listed here. But I would like to add some more great American movies.
First of all: My Darling Clementine (1946); probably the most beautiful John Ford movies ever. A Greek tragedy transposed in the Wild West (it’s actually the OK Corral story), with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp and Victor Mature as Doc Holiday (as well as the ever sexy Linda Darnell. What a Babe! And what a broad too! Possibly on the levels of Bacall and Gardner, but alas too often forgotten nowadays). Like Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda was a wonderful cow boy in Western movies, and certainly the epitome of the type of “Americanness” many Europeans enjoy since the coming of the GI’s in 1944: tall, handsome, cool and relaxed but at the very same time very determined and fond of justice. A “quiet rock”! Not like the ridicule, boasting, hollow, paltry, wan and dull John Wayne (sorry Folks!). Plus the other great esthetical “Americanness” that’s really beautiful in this fabulous movie is the unsurpassed mastery of John Ford to show the grandeur of the American wide open spaces and mostly skies. These qualities are the ones we admire you for, folks, what we expect you to bring to the rest of the world. Please re-discover My Darling Clementine. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful American movies ever.

Never forget Frank Sinatra’s movies! There’s only one in this list, but there are so many… The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) is a masterpiece but I’m not sure the character played by Frank is the epitome of manliness, or at least a “positive” manliness… So let’s re-discover Tony Rome (1966) and The Detective (1968).

And please, my American friends, don’t forget either that, beside Westerns, your civilization also produced one of the greatest literary and cinematrographical genres of the whole 20th century: the so-called “Film Noir”. Actually, these films set the standards for American manliness throughout the 30s, 40s and 50s. And they did a lot for the admiration many Europeans have for your country (even though that feeling can sometime fall under the ultra-complex and paradoxical “love/hate” category). Most of the Films Noirs are absolute “man’s movies”. The list would be too long to name them all.

And, as “The Big Boss” already wrote, what about FOREIGN movies??
- Japanese: Kagemusha and Ran.
- Soviet: The Ballad of the Soldier, Alexander Nevski, Ivan the Terrible
- French: Army of Shadows (1969), La Bandera (1935) and The Great Illusion (1936) are three superb “ultra-manly” movies.

127 Eli July 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I think the film Life Is Beautiful would have fit perfectly on this list. It’s an amazing tale of sacrifice.

128 Dave July 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

hey Brett,
any chance of getting lists like this in a spreadsheet we could download?
movies, books, or any other list you come up with would be handy to have in a concise version.


129 Mike July 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Great list, I’d have included Gods and Generals (I find Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee to be 2 of the greatest role models a man can have), Enemy at the Gates, and Gattaca (another of the “underdog rising above” type movies).

130 Petro July 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Blake Helgoth — great additions. I’d also considner adding “The Deerhunter,” “October Sky,” and “How Green Was My Valley.” The only one of the 100 posted I’d absolutely leave off is “American Beauty.” If there’s even one decent example of manliness in that movie, I missed it.

131 Aaron W. July 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

A couple of movies that seemed to not have been mentioned….
The Matrix… Fighting for humanity, self discovery/identity, kicking butt…
Unbreakable… this film received a lot of flak and a lot less attention than it’s predecessor “The Six Sense” by director M. Night Shyamalan for not much reason. It’s a wonderful story of a man who struggles with his marriage, his relationship with his son, and his job all because he feels incomplete. This all changes at the end of the movie when he discovers who he really is and his purpose in life.

My two cents worth.

(PS- great to see Ben Hur, Last of the Mohicans, North by Northwest, and many other favourites here!! And I concur with whomever said the Henry V production by Kenneth Branaugh…a masterpiece!)

132 Santa July 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Great list. I own a lot of these. Glad to see Karate Kid on there too, although I was disappointed to find out they are actually doing a remake of this and Jackie Chan is playing Mr. Miyagi. I wish hollywood would stop doing so many remakes and let great movies stay the way they are.

133 Fletch July 14, 2009 at 3:56 pm

This would definitely make a top ten list of the top ten best lists of all time… Well researched, well represented, and just top notch all around. Maybe adding the first “Superman” movie, revisiting that one never fails to impress… And agreed, adding another Sergio Leone might’ve been worthwhile…

But come on, folks. Re-watch Tombstone. It is not a good movie, I’m sorry. Nothing there that Unforgiven or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly doesn’t do a thousand times better.

134 James July 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I just rewatched Ghostbusters 1 & 2 with my daughter, she loved them, Bill Murray really had his A-game on in the second one. He must’ve been preoccupied with Razor’s Edge in the first one. I love them both. So much cracks me up in the second one. It always sounds like Louis is saying “Sure the black guy was a big problem for everybody.” and not “Sure the blackout was a big problem for everybody.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Also Bill Murray completely owns everytime he is on screen. Now they are talking Ghostbusters 3 in 2012, and that may be legitimate.

135 Brucifer July 14, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Other than observing that a number of movies on the list might have been merely included as homage to our over-osession with “sports,” a quite good list, otherwise. However one think that struck me is that this list is plainly a Baby-boomer crafting. Are there no movies relating to GenX and GenY that are worthy? Perhaps not? But if not, we are in BIG trouble.

136 bruthaman July 14, 2009 at 5:17 pm

A lot of others have been said but I have to add…

We were soldiers < AWESOME
Crimson Tide is a must for this list.

The Professional

137 Laurent Henninger July 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Allow me to be surprised by the fact that many people here make a regrettable confusion: the point here is not to talk about your favorite movies in general, but about the movies each of us considers as being great lessons in manliness. Am I wrong? I could also have listed many movies I really love but doesn’t fit in that category, but I didn’t since we must limit ourselves in the discussion to true “manly” movies.

I could also add that several movies listed here (however good or bad they are is not the point) are not movies about enhancing manliness, but actually real CHILDISH movies. No harm about it per se (some can be really funny and/or touching), just they’re not at all about the very subject of this thread nor about the very subject of this blog either.
Sorry Brett if I’m wrong.

138 Art Gonzalez July 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I would add the Jason Bourne series of movies. They are great!

Many blessings,

Art Gonzalez
Manifesting your desires quicker… http://su.pr/3rwgos

139 james July 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Eli July 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm
I think the film Life Is Beautiful would have fit perfectly on this list. It’s an amazing tale of sacrifice.

I watched this my wife one night and i cried my eyes out. seriously. even when i went to sleep.

here is one i love. i dont think i saw it in the list.
“heat” (1995)

140 Mark July 14, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Honestly, if were limiting to 100, I mean top, must have 100, we could have replaced all the baseball movies with 61*, with the exception of Pride of the Yankees. Then you make room for Costners Open Range. Best Line, Yer men aint ya?

I dont know how you made this list with no mention of Tombstone. Room for Malcolm X, Groundhog day and Ghostbusters, but no Tombstone? You ought your man card clipped for that.

141 Mark July 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

” But come on, folks. Re-watch Tombstone. It is not a good movie, I’m sorry. Nothing there that Unforgiven or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly doesn’t do a thousand times better.”

Uhhh…Val Kilmers brilliant portrayal of Doc Holliday? Come on. Dont be dense on the Internets.

142 rp July 14, 2009 at 9:51 pm

How could you forget “A man for all seasons”?

143 siksee July 15, 2009 at 1:12 am


144 Polaris July 15, 2009 at 2:10 am


145 uhhhclem July 15, 2009 at 2:26 am

Some movies that nobody else has mentioned yet:

“The French Connection II” is quite a bit better than its predecessor. Popeye Doyle going cold turkey in a Marseilles jail cell, spitting out French chocolate – “Get me a goddamn Hershey bar!” It doesn’t have the brilliant car chase, but the chase on foot at the end is just as good, and it ends in a pretty morally corrupt place.

“The Lion In Winter.” Seriously, nothing exemplifies manliness more than Peter O’Toole’s Henry II, pulling himself out of bed with a tousled wench, breaking through the ice on top of his washbasin to wash his face, and deciding that it’s time to let his wife out of prison again. A man whose qualities make it possible for him to be “the king, fifty, and alive, all at once.” Probably Katherine Hepburn’s greatest performance is to be had in here too. “He has a knife!” “Of course he has a knife. We all have knives. It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians.”

“Sweet Smell of Success.” This is a nasty bit of business about the coolest character in the coolest job in the coolest period of the coolest city in the history of the human race. Burt Lancaster never played a creepier villain than J.J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis is perfect as his desperate, oily, subhuman foil. “I love these dirty streets,” says Hunsecker, and in the hours before the sun comes up and Times Square goes to bed you can see why.

“Before Sunrise.” The second-best seduction-on-a-train in the history of movies. (With that nonsense about Teddy Roosevelt you missed the best line in the first, the indefatigable pickup line, “So what do you do, when you’re not luring men to their doom?”) It’s also the best depiction of what starting to fall in love with someone actually feels like that I’ve ever seen in a movie.

“The Long Good Friday.” Guy Ritchie owes everything to this movie, in which London mobster Bob Hoskins, on the verge of going legit, suddenly finds that things are turning against him, and that even though he ruthlessly dominates every major crime boss in London (at one point, he gathers them together, hanging by their heels, in a slaughterhouse), he has real enemies. Big enemies. Hoskins is mesmerizing and terrifying even while he’s being owned.

“The Hit.” Terence Stampp (is there a single movie with Terence Stampp on your list? Why the hell not? This list has two, and it doesn’t even include “The Limey” because I’m being disciplined) testified against his mobster boss 10 years ago and fled to Spain. John Hurt’s been hired to track him down and kill him. Only when he gets there, he finds a man who’s spent the last 10 years thinking about his death. A strange, disconcerting and suspenseful movie with a surprising amount of philosophical depth, and a very unsettling climax.

146 Jay July 15, 2009 at 3:23 am

Glaring and unforgivable omissions from this list are “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “Yhe Last Samurai”, How can you have omitted one or either?

147 Beks July 15, 2009 at 6:37 am

I agree wholeheartedly with 99% of your list, really! But Zulu???? Zulu??? Replace that with Tombstone, and you’ve got it. I might go out on a limb and even replace High Noon with The Big Country (also has Gary Cooper, with the added bonuses of Burl Ives and Charlton Heston). Same theme – doing what’s right, even when people think you’re nuts – but better cinematography. Just a thought.

148 Petro July 15, 2009 at 8:30 am

Relatively recent small film with a traditional view of manly honor and adventure — “Second Hand Lions” with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.

149 juniorhat July 15, 2009 at 10:03 am

Which movies, if liked buy a gent, would cause his “Man Card” to be immediately yanked?

150 Rob July 15, 2009 at 11:02 am

Fail Safe
Seven Days in May
Last King of Scotland
Chasing Amy

151 DVL July 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Apocalypse Now: “I love the smell of Nepalm in the morning” … CLASSIC!

152 Jim July 15, 2009 at 12:19 pm

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

The Terminator

Kung Fu Hustle

153 Jim July 15, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Cinderella Man was a typical exercise in truth distortion by Ron Howard. His depiction of Max Baer was slanderous and despicable. Braddock basically sat on the title for two years after he won that fight.

154 Jason July 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Great List. You could make a list of 500 and not make everyone happy. Ones I would include:

Pulp Fiction
Usual Suspects
Spinal Tap
Animal House

And a brand new entry: The Hangover

155 Phil July 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
From Here to Eternity
Barry Lyndon
Ace of Hearts (Lon Chaney Jr)

156 John Gutierrez July 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Mogambo or Test Pilot – Clark Gable.
The Dirty Dozen – agreed!
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – mentioned above
Sorcerer – Roy Scheider
Commando – Governor Arnold
Swashbuckler – Robert Shaw
The original Taking of Pelham, 1-2-3, again Shaw
The Wild One – Brando
Ian McKellen’s Richard III
Mr. Majestyk – Bronson

Sorry, Trevor Beard, but “Throne of Blood” is Macbeth. “Ran” is King Lear.

157 dave July 15, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Glad to see someone mentioned Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

How about Runaway Train with Jon Voight?

158 darren July 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm

some great films on there, but missing one of the best..

big wednesday

its got surfing ,war, death, and growing up.
its a proper man film, and if you aint seen it, you got to put it ata the top of your list to see next.

159 Beowulf87 July 15, 2009 at 7:57 pm

You missed a few!

The Dark Knight
Batman Begins
Gods and Generals
The Replacement Killers
Tae Guk Gi

And it’s Maximus Decimus Meridius…”Arelius” must be a reference to Marcus Aurelius, the butcher emperor portrayed in a good light in the film.

Anyone know if Enter the Dragon actually has nude scenes in it though? I haven’t seen it and was curious as to content.

160 smallstreams July 15, 2009 at 9:37 pm

A nit:”It’s a Wonderful Life” is post WWII- and not ’30s-era.

This is a beautiful list, full of movies I want to see for the first time, or movies I want to see a second time or a fifth time.

I would have included “Men in Black.” Sure it’s cartoony. It started as a cartoon. But line for line, it has more manisms than more than half the list.

Again, congratulations.

161 Nick July 16, 2009 at 12:56 am

I second Petro, take off American Beauty and add The Deer Hunter.

Either way, great list, thanks!

162 Tommy C July 16, 2009 at 1:48 am

Here’s to seconding “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
One of my favorites, and you know its manly if only because its based on the Odysessy.

Another great movie with a southern twist to it is “Big Fish.” It’s about a son trying to learn who is father really is by delving into his tall tales. It’s an incredibly creative, well done movie. For a third, “Forrest Gump” is a classic, certainly more well known than the other two.

I don’t know if I’d include “300″ in my Manly 100 movies. Sure its a war movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it the first few times I watched it, but so many movies are about men fighting and dying at each others side. For a better war movie that’s not included, I also agree with “Kingdom of Heaven.”

All in all, its a great list. Some of my favorites are on there. Just filling in the Southern gap. Believe it or not, its not all about racism down in the South, and I tend to grow weary of people forgetting the South’s better points (bluegrass, Southern Belles, and the best cooking in the world to name a few).

163 Sir Lancelot July 16, 2009 at 3:24 am

I agree with whoever said some movies mentioned in the comments section are more childish than manly, like Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, and perhaps more controversially, the Sergio Leone trilogy, which I find is more about cartoonish macho crap rather than manliness, and this coming from a Clint Eastwood fan.

And I agree about American Beauty. It stands out like a sore thumb.

164 bma July 16, 2009 at 4:18 am

“Philadelphia” or “Brokeback Mountain” should be here. Being who you are and loving who you love, against all opposition, takes more “manliness” than shooting a gun or throwing a punch. Man up and give some love to the manly gays! :)

165 David July 16, 2009 at 4:55 am

Great list.

Further recommendations:
Gran Torino “Get off my lawn”
Rob Roy “Nothing like a whiff of quim to wake you in the morning”
Apocalypse Now “They were going to make me a major for this, and I wasn’t even in their @#$% army anymore”
The Matador “Margaritas and …”
Raging Bull “Did you @#$ my wife?”

But the last two may not capture the manly tendencies this website is designed to showcase.

166 David July 16, 2009 at 4:59 am

And also thank you for not including The Matrix(any of them). Keanu Reeves is only allowed to act because of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures.

I would like to see a Lee Marvin movie on the list!

167 Steven July 16, 2009 at 10:18 am

Three I would have added to the list:

Raging Bull
Treasure of Sierra Madre
The Post Man Always Rings Twice

168 Greco July 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Great list and some good recommendations, but how does everyone forget “Scarface”?

169 Andrew Burdick July 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Can’t believe that you left out Papillon. But its a great list. After my parents divorced, my dad would just drop my brother and me off at the movie theatres whenever he had us for a weekend. So we pretty much learned masculinity from movies. Thanks-

170 Taylor July 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Strange list. Even making allowances for differences in taste, at least 15 of these movies seem to be at best mediocre in quality. Even in a list limited to movies dealing with manliness I would not expect to see them. These movies for example?

Bull Durham
Field of Dreams
The Shootist
The Untouchables
Malcolm X
Mississippi Burning
Remember the Titans
The Bourne Identity
All the President’s Men
Gangs of New York
American Beauty

171 Mike B July 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The Sea Inside? A movie about a man wanting to kill himself. Glorifying euthanasia? That goes against everything that The Art of Manliness is about. Man up! It’s not “politics aside” it is the dignity of life from conception to natural death. Now THAT is manly.

172 Phil July 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm

You mentioned Lee Marvin and I agree he ought to have a place on the list.

Aside from the Dirty Dozen, I’d also include…

Hell In The Pacific….In which Lee Marvin & Toshiro Mifune are enemys stranded on an island during WW2. They are enemys who must work together to get off the island. Beautifully directed by John Boorman.


Galipoli…starring young Mel Gibson. What friendship means during war (WW1). Excellent scenes also well well acted.

173 Paladin July 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Personally I think the criticisms of The Shootist miss the mark by a wide margin. Be that as it may. In keeping with the theme of the list, though, I would add “John Wayne and the Cowboys”. It’s as good a “man up” movie as you will find.

174 Matt July 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm

You forgot
The Cowboys
The Quiet Man
The Magnificent Seven
The Green Berets
True Grit
The Searchers

175 Joe July 17, 2009 at 9:59 pm

OCD, but you quoted the Bourne Supremacy in the Bourne Ultimatum part

176 Joe July 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm


177 Jon Jay July 18, 2009 at 5:45 am

Casino Royale (2006)
The Blue Max
Bang the Drum Slowly
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
The Italian Job
Little Big Man (might be on the list, missed it…) “She was sayin’ no, but I think she meant yes…”
The Who: The Vegas Job

I gues I indict myself by admitting I’ve watched many moreTop 100 movies than I have read on the Top 100 Must Read. Shame on me.

178 Tex July 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I would have included Stalag 17 with William Holden.

179 Rodrigo July 19, 2009 at 6:15 am

I think the list is great.
Just one single suggestion: We were soldiers… one of the best Mel Gibson’s movies.

180 Tim July 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I’ll agree with Taylor’s exceptions above, except for “Gladiator”, also I second “The Dirty Dozen” and “Second Hand Lions”, with “Gran Torino” as a last minute definite add.

“Rear Window” is Hitchcocks best in my opinion, and the classic close up of Grace Kelly alone puts it on the list.
” The Sandlot” as told though the embellishment of the kids is wonderful and you’ll find several of the kids you grew up with in those characters . Yep, it’s a little corny, but great quotes. ” You’re killin’ me Squints, you’re killin’ me….”
Good list, great comments.

181 Tim July 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Correction: In “The Natural” the name of the bat is Wonderboy, not Boy Wonder.

For a John Wayne film, I vote for “Rooster Cogburn” in lieu of True Grit. Kate Hepburn is one of only a few that can compete with the Duke on screen, and she more than holds her own.

Also I agree with previous post of “Lilies Of The Field ” with Sidney Poitier.

I suggest breaking this down into sub catagories of ten best. War, Action, Comedy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Sports, Drama, Foreign, Western, and Other. There would obviously be some overlap.

182 Edward July 19, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Great list. A few of the older ones weren’t the best choice from the respective eras.

183 Edward July 19, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Here is my list of movies that should be included on the Man List:
**= Personal Favorites

Raging Bull
Big Trouble in Little China
Animal House**
The Longest Yard (original)
Last King of Scotland
Outlaw Jose Wales**
Name of the Rose**
Stand By Me
Missouri Breaks**
The Dirty Dozen
Kelly’s Heroes**
Reservoir Dogs
The Usual Suspects**
The Wild Bunch
Full Metal Jacket
The Spanish Prisoner
Midnight Run
Catch Me If You Can
The Italian Job (original)
Blazing Saddles
Blood Diamond**
12 Monkeys
Clockwork Orange**
Mad Max
The Hidden
Blade Runner
Slap Shot**
Taxi Driver
Big Lebowski**
The Shining
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Apocalypse Now**
The Four Feathers (original)
Toxic Avenger**
The Tao Of Steve**
Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
The Flim Flan Man**
Run Lola Run**
Spinal Tap
The Wild One
Easy Rider**
Ong Bak
The Matador
The Warriors**
Escape From New York

184 Larry Roberts July 19, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Eric the viking
repo man
a clockwork orange
fight club
Sin City
lady death ‘
heavy metal

185 James July 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

1. Fight Club
2. Ocean’s 11
3. Thomas Crown Affair
4. Heat
5. The Fountainhead
6. The Score

186 James July 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Brett, your list is fantastic and I truly believe you’ve narrowed down an impossible to narrow down list quite well. This will help with my wife’s and my Monday movie night tradition. Please do consider a second tier of movie recommendations.

187 mrchip1958 July 22, 2009 at 4:49 am

Giving props to someone who mentioned ” Memento” The Battle of Britian, and the Wind and the Lion. Thanks for the list

188 James July 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Gangs of New York? Come on Martins made better Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Mean Streets >>>>>>>>>>> Gangs of New York

189 Lauren July 23, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Okay, so being a female maybe I shouldn’t really be commenting…but I prefer the movies off of this list over a chick flick anyday. However, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs should definitely be added. I also think American History X and the Goonies belong on this list…maybe even the Boondock Saints. There are so many great movies out there, it’s definitely way too hard to stop at 100.

and definite kudos to whoever suggested A Clockwork Orange!!

190 Kenneth July 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

While maybe not a “must-see” movie, definitely a prime example of manliness is the documentary “Alone in the Wilderness” (http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B0009PUAFG). Guy decides to live alone in Alaska, goes off into the wilderness, builds himself a house (with some of the most beautiful hand-crafted, all-wood hinges I have ever seen), and make a living on the land. Did I mention he filmed himself (which means he had to do a lot of what he filmed twice)? Oh, and that he was over 65 years old when he started?

191 E Pluribus Omni July 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Please read the list BEFORE you say a movie ISN’T on the list.

As far as an omission: “The Black Swan”. (Tyrone Powers) A great pirate movie, excellent sword fighting, and he knows how to treat a woman. LOL

Maybe I am turning in my “Man Card” on this one, but where is “The Wrestler.”

192 NT4thBook July 24, 2009 at 6:08 am

Got to add “The Man From Snowy River”!
Best Line: There are a dozen good brood mares in that mob. I’ll be back for them… and for whatever else is mine.

193 fithri July 25, 2009 at 3:47 am

There are more,

Easy Rider
The Wild One
no country for old men
a beautiful mind
planet of the apes
the patriot
the midnight cowboys
the departed
the public enemies


i love the list, I already printed it and watched 10 out of it

194 Jayson July 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Glad to see Fight Club & Gladiator on there!

195 Justin July 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Last of the Mohicans is an awesome movie… except the director’s extended edition, which cuts out the hard lines, including the one you listed as the best. Don’t know if you can get the original release on DVD, though. Bah.

196 WEKM July 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I just have to ask, in regards to Old Yeller, can you really say it is a man movie if it makes you cry?

197 Solomon July 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Razor’s Edge. Watched it with the guys at 17. Changed my life.

198 Steve August 4, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I liked the list, and obviously there are more than 100 manly movies out there, but I think these ones should have snuck in somehwere:

Dances with Wolves
A Christmas Story

199 Steve August 4, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Good list, but how can you leave out Deliverance, Tomestone, and Dances with Wolves?

200 Steve August 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Good list, but where are these four?

Dances with Wolves
Full Metal Jacket

Also, do you guys think A Christmas Story should be in? Every grown man I know loves that one.

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