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

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 13, 2009 · 701 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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{ 685 comments… read them below or add one }

301 Mike March 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

This list was great and helped me fill up my Netflix queue, it will be a while before I need to add any movies. The only disappointing exclusion is Black Hawk Down, a movie I believe every American politician should watch and understand before taking office.

302 Timothy March 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Great list. Happy to see To Kill a Mockingbird, Fight Club, Rocky, and the Iron Giant on the list. I would have included Jaws, simply because you have three men on a boat going after a killer fish. What’s more manly than that?

303 Leslie Webb March 22, 2010 at 12:44 am

Where is Kindergarten Cop?

304 UncleSeth March 22, 2010 at 1:53 am

How about a movie with Errol Flynn? He’s definitely a badass. I like Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

305 Ed March 22, 2010 at 2:41 am

Did not see this one on the list.

The Trap……….Oliver Reed

306 Ed March 22, 2010 at 2:43 am

The Trap……….Oliver Reed

307 Union Jack March 22, 2010 at 3:46 am

Thanks for this list it’s great. There’s a few here I haven’t seen and many I’d forgotten about worth revisiting. But, the greatest ‘man’ movie isn’t here: The Magnificent 7. Great cast, great story and better than 7 samurai.

308 Union Jack March 22, 2010 at 3:55 am

Oh and ‘Rollerball’ too. I’ll shut up and post up a list of missing films later. Thanks again.

309 doa766 March 22, 2010 at 5:50 am

so cinderella man and gladiator are in but Pulp Fiction and the Godfather out? looks like cinematic retards made this list

310 Celeb Toast March 22, 2010 at 7:26 am

This is an incredible list!Great to see some of my favorite movies on the list.Gladiator and Braveheart are the best movies ever in my opinion.Thanks for the list..

311 Fritz Peterson March 22, 2010 at 7:58 am

For the most part, this is a terrific list. But as pointed out by many there are movies that could/should be added and movies that could/should be deleted.

But honestly, I don’t know how you leave “The Man Who Would be King” off the list.

And for awhile I thought, OK, no comedies on the list I get that, but then a couple show up, but no “Animal House”?

I would also add “Full Metal Jacket.”

I could go on, but those to me were the glaring errors.

312 Neal March 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

Very cool list. Near the top of my best 100 would be “The Strait Story”.

313 rabbit tobacco March 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

thunder road/ pump up the volume/gods and generals/run silent run deep/
sahara(bogart’s)/at close range

314 KuanYin March 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Good to see that there are at least some women commenting here. ;-)
This is a great list, and I was surprised that I have actually seen majority of them.
I’m with Lady Warwick “The Last Samurai” really should have been included. I love Tom Cruise and adore Ken Watanabe. Tom may be a bit crazy in his private life, but he is still a great actor. There are very, very few actors that are as perfect in their private life as they are on the screen. I personally don’t follow up on their private life, I pay them to entertain me nothing more.
All in all this is a great list, and I will add to my own list as I remember them.
I don’t believe there are any “ERRORS” on this list…. how can you judge preferences???? We all have our own likes and dislikes, if you think something is missing then add it to this list or make up your very own.
This list has brought back some great memories, thank you.

315 Bigfoot567 March 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Great list – agree with the earlier comments on Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, and would also add Kubrick’s Paths of Glory – an anti-war movie the equal of All Quiet on the Western Front (And I also like the 1979 version – Ernest Borgnine was born to play Kacinsky!)

Just thought of another Borgnine movie (and obviously Spencer Tracy, Lee Marvin etc. – Bad Day at Black Rock.

To reiterate other comments – how can you stop with just 100?

316 KdhNY11 March 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I’m sorry – but how do you possibly forget about Papillon?

Also, these should be included if the list is expanded:
Planet of the Apes (original)
Crimson Tide

317 JeffS March 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

In North by Northwest, the US government (CIA) does not think Cary Grant is a spy. They know he is an innocent man being chased by foreign spies, but the government’s plan is to let Cary Grant continue to be chased so he can serve as a decoy so as to protect a real US spy who is in danger of being exposed and killed from the bad guys.

318 cunno March 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Just for all you action movie lovers…here’s on yáll never heard of that’s really cool. In fact Mel Gibsons “Äpocolypto” is a bald faced imitation, and it’s ok, but this is the real deal. it’s called “The Naked Prey” with Cornell Wilde. His safari pisses off the native africans because they (what a sceene/its real footage) are just blowing away elephants just for fun. They catch these guys and kill them horribly…..except for the last guy. they give him a head start and then come after him with spears. He defies all odds and …..and…….well, you’ll just have to watch it. If you guys like these mens movies, you’ll like this one.

319 Joe March 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Good list. I’d say 80 would be on my list, mainly because haven’t seen 20 or so.
One I’d like to add is a very old one of Harrold Loyyd doing comedic climbing on the clock. An ok but dated comedy just watching it won’t put it on the list. What will put it on the list is because of 3 points.
1. That is the actor (no such thing as stuntmen) climbing on the side of the building, hanging from clock hands, 15 stories up.
2. There is no invisible lines, no net, no safety equipment at all.
3. He only has 1 hand.

320 Burton March 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm

For a slightly different look at movies for men, check out my website:


I had a couple of criteria for selecting these movies. One was to get at something deeper which defines both manhood and humanity. I avoided films which promoted mindless violence and self-destructive heroics (e.g., the Rambo syndrome). Insofar as many of the films I reviewed do involve violence, it is as a means to a higher end.

Make of that what you will.

321 Connie March 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Friday Night Lights
Gods and Generals

322 Walter Lewkowski March 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Movies as propaganda, or indoctrination on how to be a man. Your list is bogus. Let’s deconstruct:

You missed one of the top ten movies of all time, Charles Bronson’s Hard Times. If ever there were a movie for men about men Hard Times is it. By omitting it you’ve failed to qualify for the top 100 lists of top 100 films that men should see. You could have also included a few other Bronson Classics such as Mr. Majestyk, Death Hunt, and Breakheart Pass.

In place of films about men being men you include a lot of anti-white men and anti-Christian men propaganda films.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Mississippi Burning, (bad, bad white people vs. some good white people and 100% good blacks. Blacks never rape and kill white people), A Raisin in the Sun, Remember the Titans, Glory, (“Overcoming prejudice”, that is white people prejudice only), In the Heat of the Night.

After watching these films a white young man is obliged to exclaim, “Oh what a wretched white person I am”.

Top anti-Christian films include Gentleman’s Agreement which even director Elia Kazan said was junk, (stop the world a Jew can’t join a country club), Schindler’s List, or Holocaust Mania. For crying out loud the Jews own Hollywood, if not half the world. How about before we watch the one of the hundreds schmaltzy pro-Jewish films we see at least one film showing Jews mistreating non-Jews?

There are so many films that are just crap: The Endless Summer, The Apartment, Gandhi, Rebel Without a Cause, half-ass white teenagers with Dean’s father in an apron!),The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, (Newman is always good at showing how stupid, mean, and dishonest white men are), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, All the President’s Men, 12 Angry Men, (dated propaganda is unwatchable today; this time it is an Hispanic that the evil white society is victimizing), Dead Poets Society, American Beauty.

323 Walter Lewkowski March 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm


There is a documentary about the stunt men of Hollywood. It is one of a series of excellent documentaries about Hollywood’s silent era and is narrated by James Mason. The stunt man episode shows how Lloyd did the shot with absolute no danger using an ingenious technique.

He and the clock are safely on the roof of a building only a few feet from the roof’s surface. The angle and set up shots gives the illusions that he is high on the wall of a skyscraper. You can purchase the last copy at Amazon. It is VHS.

324 Rob G March 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Maybe I missed it in the comments, but what about The Wild Geese ?

Best line: “Some of you don’t know me. You’re in for a great big f…in’ surprise! The rest of you can prepare yourselves for an infinitely more horrible time than you will care to remember!”

Next best: “You’re jumping out of an aeroplane, not a whorehouse window. Do it again.”

325 RO'C March 23, 2010 at 6:17 am

I went back as far as last November to see if anyone mentioned the ONE movie every man should see but didn’t find it…The Passion. It’s in season right now, too! It shows what men did to the Son of God when He became the perfect man. He went around curing the sick, casting out devils, forgiving sinners, working all kinds of miracles and in general telling people to keep His commandments and stop “getting even” with each other…as most of the “heroes” in your list do. His unforgivable crime, of course, was telling the religious leaders of the time to their faces that they were liars and whitened sepulchers who had perverted His laws. Sound familiar?
Best line: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

326 Brad Fleming March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Breaking Away…

327 Burrhus March 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Proof of Life with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan. The scene where Crowe and his men set ff on the mission is the most masculine I have ever seen. The look of adoration and awe on Ryan’s face reveals what it is about men that makes them “not women”. This movie definitely belongs on your top 100 — actually on your top 5.

328 JoeyB April 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Didn’t read all 50 thousand comments but I never seen “A writ for a rat” or “mighty big talk for a one eyed fat man”

329 Ryan Parker April 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I think it’s a great list, but Forrest Gump is certainly a must see that deserves a place here.

330 Frank April 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

High Fidelity – John Cusak reviews his past loves and realizes what has been missing, commitment.

Good Fellas – a better mob film than The Untouchables. It’s a real-life story, not “based on real people” like Untouchables.

331 Frank April 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Jaws – those are men hunting down that shark
Best scene – comparing past injuries

“Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”

332 WILLIAM SON April 12, 2010 at 12:47 am

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) is indispensable.
“Death of a salesman” meets “Patton”.

333 Kevin Tuma April 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Great list…in the case of John Wayne, I think he was still underrepresented despite the multiple choices. but you discussed Lawrence of Arabia, which I feel was one of the most manly films of all time, while giving Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other popcorn epics their just due. Huzzah.

334 Chris Michaels April 14, 2010 at 12:52 am

I really enjoyed this list. On the whole I’d have to say I agree, even though there are still movies on there I haven’t seen yet. I disagree with some of the choices, but, in a list of 100 movies, there’s bound to be some disagreement.

Here are the movies I would have included that aren’t:

Gettysburg (1993) – Just as Private Ryan is a war film about bravery, Gettysburg is one that is resoundingly about courage (as well as fellowship, camaraderie, and friendship). Yes the movie is long (just over 4 hours) but it’s well worth the watch, and it has so many wonderful lines of dialogue. Starring: Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen.

Backdraft (1991) – I was very surprised to see Tombstone suggested so many times instead of this Kurt Russel film, since I felt this one had more substance. But hey, that’s my opinion. This film has some of the most spectacular fire sequences caught on film (even with today’s special effects) and a great story about heroism. This is one of my all time personal favorites. Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca DeMornay, Donald Sutherland, and Robert DeNiro.

The American President (1995) – One of the best romantic movies made in recent memory. However, this movie is just as much about integrity as it is about romance. President Shepherd exemplifies the way a man should treat a woman, and also the kind of character that a leader should have. Starring: Michael Douglas, Annette Bening.

My hat’s off to you for including Saving Private Ryan, To Kill A Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men, and Indiana Jones.

335 JackESavage April 14, 2010 at 4:32 am

what makes a movie “manly”?
Kevin Costner? Sarah Palin?
check out the following films for an antidote to “manly” films:
Taxi Driver
Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Crash (Cronenberg adaptation of JG Ballard, NOT the cheesy Hollywood version)
The Panic in Needle Park
Eyes of Laura Mars
Bitter Moon
Andy Warhol’s ‘Bad’
Berlin Alexanderplatz

336 clbrto April 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Thamks for all the great movie suggestions! Great web site and also good additions to the movie list from the commentators. Here are a couple of my favs:

Limbo (1999) Directed by John Sayles, starring David Strathairn and Kris Kristofferson. Great Alaska scenery, intriguing plot, survival situations.

Dear Frankie (2004) Gerard Butler shows his sensitive side, remains manly.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008) A documentary about a man dealing with the death of his best friend.

Fearless (1993) Jeff Bridges survives an airplane crash, copes manfully.
Peter Weir directed, Oscar nominated.

Once (2006) A manly musical! Won an Oscar! Will definitely get you some!

OK, I’m out of here before I blow my (girly) cover.

337 clbrto April 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm


In Bruges (2008)

338 RedBeard April 16, 2010 at 8:53 am

Possibly the greatest thing a ‘man’ (IMHO) can do is be a good father and the best description of what a good father does (in a movie, at least as far as I’m concerned and right at this moment) is Sydney Poitier in “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”. John’s (Poitier) tirade at his father about how it was his fathers responsibility to do everything for the son he brought into the world was the final proof for me that Poitier is my all time favorite actor. As a relatively new father (six years now), every time I start to resent the effort I have to put in to raising my kids I will think of that scene and what it means to me.

All round one of my all time favorite films and surely totally manly. Not only the content but the context of it’s creation. Check out the background http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guess_Who%27s_Coming_to_Dinner.

“American Beauty”??? What tha???

339 Bongani April 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

Tears of the sun!!!

340 Puppyluv April 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

Amazingly, I have seen all but one of these, and have read all of the books on which those were made from books. I’ve even taught several of the books and shown the movies in my high school English and literature classes. However, I disagree that a few are not worthy of the top 100 list, and I would have added “Gone with the Wind” as well as “The Devil and Daniel Webster” in both the written and film forms.

341 Robo April 18, 2010 at 3:59 am

Great List! A couple that I think are highly worthy based on relevance that I didn’t see in the comments:
HOOP DREAMS – I know it’s a documentary but it still fits
Wages of Fear – Very manly / great movie, even if it features Frenchmen
Grave of the Fireflies – super-good anime dealing with the REALITY of war (honestly)
Yankee Doodle Dandy – just to have something positive from the ultimate man’s anti-hero, James Cagney

Some Movies in the comments I totally agree with:
ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (from the 30′s) – just an awesome movie. It would be hard to pick just one great manly quote though. Needs to be on this list.
Master and Commander
Grand Illusion
Barry Lyndon
Slap Shot (Full disclosure: I’m Canadian)

342 Robo April 18, 2010 at 4:01 am

And Jet Li’s Fearless is also quite deserving

343 hugh April 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

great to see a list of films that goes back further than american pie

344 Jeff April 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I thought for sure “Play Misty For Me” with Clint Eastwood would be on that list…

A single bachelor who’s a radio DJ sleeps with a wacky listener who quickly becomes a stalker. All the while trying to get back with an old flame. Classic!

345 Viktor April 24, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Rocky was a terrible movie. I do not understand why people love Rocky so much. The dialogue was terrible, and I just did not like Rocky. Rocky is an idiot. I prefer my main characters, if not intelligent, at least some form of street smart. There is just nothing appealing about the guy.

And Spartacus is Kubrick’s worst movie, maybe. It is ok, but it has not aged well, and the story is less true than Gladiator. If you are going to pick a Kubrick movie, then Full Metal Jacket is the obvious choice. I know you mentioned that you would not pick very many avant garde movies, but I saw hardly any. A Kieslowski would have been nice, either Three Colors, or Blind Chance.

Oh and I would highly recommend Beautiful Girls. While it seems a simple dramedy about 30 something year olds, I think it touches a very important subject in growing up that most movies do not deal with: losing your dreams and settling. Despite its upbeat town it is ultimately a depressing take on the subject, and worthy at least for giving a non Hollywood approach to something akin to a mid-life crisis.

346 JG April 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Thin Red Line

Michael Clayton

No Country for Old Men

—-to be considered

347 Jon April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

No 1979′s Alien?

No Scorsese’s Goodfellas?

This list is faulty.

348 Patrick April 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Good picks. They missed Black Hawk Down, The Godfather, and the Boondock Saints

349 BCP April 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Only one complaint, I didn’t see any Tarantino on this list. Seriously, fix that one problem and it’s a pretty much great list, but I NEED me some Pulp Fiction at least.

350 Steve April 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Excellent list, but I was disappointed not to see Gone With the Wind. Rhett Butler is the original Real Man.

351 Paul April 30, 2010 at 2:34 am

Great list, I now wish I could power my way through this list right now. Was extremely excited to see that you had included some of the best films of all time, especially Last of the Mohcians and Zulu. There are some that I agree with previous posters have been left out to the determent of the list.

Gran Torino
Tae Guk Gi
Hunt for Red October
Full Metal Jacket
Michael Collins

Other great films that could have been included but obviously don’t sit as high as many on the list are.

The Book of Eli
Black Hawk Down
We Were Soldiers
American History X
Young Guns
Stand by Me

352 Godard May 2, 2010 at 10:32 am

Pierrot le fou

353 Mark May 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Truly a great list! Many I have watched and will now watch again. I would add three more: “The Eiger Sanction”, “Man in the Wilderness”, “A Boy Ten Feet Tall”. All three well worth your time. I remember watching “A Boy Ten Feet Tall” with my father one evening when I could not sleep, and it was well past my bed time, but my father allowed me to stay up late with him, and we watched it together, jsitting on the couch, just the two of us, father and son.

354 Mark May 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Could not help but add one more.

The Earthling
One of William Holden’s last films and a worthwhile rental.


355 Greg May 6, 2010 at 12:36 am

In 2003 the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked the 100 top heros in movie history. The #1 rated hero was Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird.

356 Gabe May 9, 2010 at 4:08 am

Excellent list.
I would also add

Grand Prix
The Tunnel (from Germany)

357 Meysam Baraghani May 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Great list , very well done …

358 Kieran Sandoval May 15, 2010 at 12:26 am

I have to make a few additions to this list:

A Clockwork Orange
American Psycho
The Dark Knight
Full Metal Jacket
There will be Blood
True Romance
Spinal Tap
Football Factory
Awaydays (Not Available in The States Unfortunately)
This is England
Dead Man’s Shoes
Romper Stomper
Throne of Blood
The Firm (the english Gary Oldman Soccer Film)
The Firm (The Nick Love Directed Remake of the The Gary Oldman Classic that came out last year)

Unfortunately both versions of the Firm are not available in the U.S.
maybe you can find them online somewhere

359 community May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Beau Travail – men at work, a lovely arty film about the French Foreign Legion with almost no dialogue.
The Samurai Trilogy – Toshiro Mifune eats the screen as Musashi Miyamoto, with fabulous sword fighting, hard moral choices, and two beautiful women in love with him, one a good girl and one bad.
Once Upon a Time in China – Jet Li’s best role, as Wong Fei-Hung, martial arts master, teacher and doctor, dealing with large issues of colonialism and national identity on a very human level.
I second Chris Hodapp’s recommendation of The Man Who Would be King, because it’s epic in a classic serial kind of way (like Raiders of the Lost Ark was), it’s Connery and Caine, and it has Rudyard Kipling as a character in it.
I second Robo’s recommend of Wages of Fear because it is nerve-wracking, rivetingly suspenseful, and Yves Montand is awesome.
Phil – Ace of Hearts is Lon Chaney Sr. not Jr.

360 Alan May 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Only three movies that I would add:

The Fugitive featuring Harrison Ford.

The Perfect Storm

The Pursuit of Happyness.

361 Roger Hunt May 21, 2010 at 7:31 am

I would add Ronin, Leon-The Professional,World Fastest Indian,and maybe The Sacketts

362 san diego electricians May 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Some of the my favorite movies are

karate kid
friday night lights
fight club
gone in 60 sec

Overall there are a lot of good movies out there, but these are some of the best.

363 Jack May 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Pretty good list, but there is no Mad Max or Gallipoli(i’m Australian, haha), Rififi, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon A time in America, Raging Bull, A Bitter Sweet Life, The Beat My Heart Skipped, Yojimbo, The 400 Blows,The Think Red Line and probably the defining ultimate man’s film, in the history of man’s films, in all history of all time of the universe of film, Peckinpah’s blood soaked, awesome, raging, to the death classic – The Wild Bunch…..a must see for any man. The march back into the village is a must see, (plus the unforgettable gunfight that follows)….
Best line(s)?
“Let’s go……”
“Why not?”

364 Glenn Scott May 29, 2010 at 6:54 am

Well Done List! Keeping the List’s purpose in mind, I’d keep most but replace many of the weaker selections (American Beauty, Top Gun …) critiqued well in others’ comments with:

Legands of the Fall – A beautiful film about men; brothers, father, sons
Gattaca – A mind bender; under-rated
Lillies of the Field – Powerful and moral
Truman Show – A man escapes his cage
Forest Gump – Knows what love is
Outlaw Josey Wales – Warrior seeks peace, blood bond scene.
Cast Away – Moved when a volleyball dies?
Gallipoli – Fog Scene; they’re gone …
Rollerball – Jonathan … Jonathan
Papillion – McQueen, nothing more need be said
Fountainhead – Heard a remake is coming; timely … Ayn Rand
We Were Soldiers – Unapologetic Vietnam War movie
Band of Brothers – Pacific version too.
Apocolypse Now – To steal a line from the author of Jarhead, “no war movie is an anti-war movie”
A Few Good Men – Watched in reverse from the Director’s anti-war message; as a tragedy with Nicholson as the hero and Cruise (blah) as the antagonist.
The Thing (John Carpenter) – One of the best horror movies ever
The Man Who Would Be King – Remember watching this one as a kid, I’m 47.
Silience of the Lambs – Watch with a nice Chianti
Two Lions – Great film, under-rated
Henry V (Branagh) – There’s the Bible and then there’s man’s response to God in Shakespeare and the Godfather.
Pursuit of Happiness – What a decent old white man in the end? Great film.
Thank You for Smoking – The MOD Squad … smokes, booze and guns …
Passion of the Christ – I guess religion is too taboo? Messiah or just a man; either way the omission is political correctness. Even Gandhi would agree.

365 dane May 29, 2010 at 10:15 pm


366 Ted May 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

You list some manly movies but I’d like to add a few suggestions of my own:
Pale Rider
Gran Torino
Death Wish
Mad Max
The Road Warrior
The Patriot
Never Back Down
The Warriors
And I don’t remember seeing “High Plains Drifter” mentioned.

367 amanante May 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

The list is awesome!
But I do believe American Beauty should be removed. I also suggest adding these:

1) Godfather III (the whole meaning of the trilogy is revealed here. Michael struggled all his life to go legal but his criminal life wouldn’t let him live normal life. he ends up divorcing his wife that he probably still loves, losing his daughter, and dying himself not achieving personal happiness)
2) Life is Beautiful – the antagonist is a perfect example of a man who deserves to be called “dad”
3) Donnie Brasco – sacrificed the time with his family, risked his own life just to infiltrate one of the New York’s biggest mafia family. Psychological challenge that he faced being so close to his “new friends” and at the same time trying to stay loyal to his service. Real man’s dilemma.
4) There Will Be Blood – Greediness, hunger for money, oil, blood, sacrifice, father-son relationships, church authority, business…
plus, the theme of the website remind me of this movie. tough American men of those times.

368 Joe June 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Two movies that are definitely missing is Almost Famous and The Big Lebowski.

369 Joe M June 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I think Forrest Gump should have been included. A great movie showcasing that even a man with a disadvantage cannot be stopped if he doesn’t know he’s disadvantaged.

370 Ryan June 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I’m disappointed Road House isn’t on the list. It has great qualities, Fight scenes, loud music, big cars, a despicable crook, a grizzly old mentor, ect. I highly recommend it, even though it’s a gory Q.T. film.

371 mike June 5, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Add Red Cliff to the list. Set in China with awesome battle scenes.

372 Alexandra June 11, 2010 at 7:01 am

Absolutely! I remember my dad sending me to get movies when he was alive, he only liked this kind and I always knew what to get him. :)

373 Dave June 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

To Kill A Mockingbird? Atticus Finch is the definition of gentleman!

374 Kurt Russell Anderson June 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

There Will Be Blood!!!!

375 bookmakers free bets June 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

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376 Chuck June 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

It was only a TV mini-series but I believe the greatest Man movie and Western is Lonesome Dove.

Many ‘best’ lines but my favorite is “I hate rude behavior in a man”

377 Smedley June 26, 2010 at 12:14 am

I see you like to go have a good cry every once in a while. How can you be a man without “Hombre”?

I’ve got a question. How are you going to get back down that hill?

378 t wasn't June 26, 2010 at 12:40 am

I don’t think anybody mentioned “Easyriders”. It may not have been great film_making but it was a classic in its own way and I think influenced a lot of young men at the time.

Thanks for the effort, by the way but – American Beauty? This is a man’s list right?

379 Personal Trainer CT June 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Man, you are good! You should write your own book/movie! Keep it up!

380 bIRDHUNTER July 4, 2010 at 10:02 am

Good flicks, although you took some hits, as I’m sure you expected. However, looks as if I must stand in line to correct your omisssions.
So, tell me, how is it possible to list one hundred “Must-See” movies for men and not include Eastwood’s “Josie Wales” (which “Glory” pales beside–no irony intended,) and “Red River” starring John Wayne and its mythical plot? Please–replace a couple of the girlie movies with these!

381 Mattias July 6, 2010 at 4:14 am

interesting list, thank you, but too much of Kevin “hubris” Costner. He’s so perfectly…boring, and I’m being kind here.

Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” (To Live) about a man re-assessing his life is a beautiful and manly film, Kurosawa’s best.

Appreciating your parents is also quite manly, which is the theme of Ozu’s “Tokyo Story”, and which simply has to be one of the most beautiful films ever made.

382 Aaron July 6, 2010 at 9:51 pm


It’s a bit of a family joke that you can get me to tear up just by having me explain the PLOT to that film.

383 Lance July 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I would remove: American Beauty. (horrible choice unless you are only after a boost in comments stating that fact)

Obviously the “male role model” aspect is not the main reason to make this list, as many poor ones are here, yet it is a great list indeed!

Ones I would add (only got to 190 of the comments)

The Cowboys and Red Dawn (Great way of showing that young boys/men…when given more resposibility…rise to the occasion.

The Hangover (how they berate the whipped) and Gran Torino (no PC crap, yet a good guy) and 300 for new additions. (subtle rip on Greek “boy lovers”) ha!

Tombstone (Val Kilmer was at his best)

Good Will Hunting and Network and V for Vendetta (solid movies) (not sure why they had to force in the gay stuff in V…didn’t really need to or add much.)

Looking forward to reading the last 200 comments, as my list from the first 190 is quite long and looks great! Thanks for both the list and follow up comments!

384 montreal florist July 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Rambo is best, I think.

385 Ryan July 11, 2010 at 1:13 am

You do have some great films on the list but there are a few I would add that I think you overlooked.

300 — Western civilization wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Sparta. The ideas of democracy and liberty embodied in American society in particular derived from these very same ancient Greeks. Leonidas and his 300 bought time for politicians to mobilize the armies of Greece to stand against the tyranny and oppression of the Emperor Xerxes. While Leonidas and his men ultimately lost, democracy and liberty were preserved down through the generations. Few movies are any manlier than this.

The Dark Knight — About doing the right thing, standing up to evil, even if it means you sacrifice your own happiness to do so. Many parallels to the current Global War on Terror and how some world leaders who stood up to terrorists became very unpopular for doing so, much the way Batman is hated for standing up to the Joker. Greatest line in the film: Alfred to Bruce Wayne — “Some men just want to watch the world burn, sir.”

Redbelt — Very underrated film by David Mamet. Main character looses everything he has and is betrayed by his own wife, but never looses his sense of honor, loyalty and self-respect.

The Wild Bunch — While it is definitely gory and extremely violent, there is a deeper message of camaraderie, loyalty, and honor (even amongst thieves) that is very often overlooked. It also deals quite well with the theme of men who have outlived their usefulness or have become outdated in a modern society (the cowboy) and how they ultimately choose to deal with this dilemma.

Appaloosa — Hard men, doing hard things. Also a great tale of friendship between two grizzled gunfighters.

The Deer Hunter — Very manly story of the bond between two friends, Nick and Chris. If the ending scene with DeNiro and Walken doesn’t get you, nothing will.

Open Range — If you love westerns you will love this movie. The best work of Kevin Costner’s entire career IMHO.

Blackhawk Down — Excellent story about the bonds between men, and why they fight. Not necessarily for duty, honor, and country but for their brothers in arms.

Band of Brothers & The Pacific — See above. Greatest Generation’s take on brotherhood, courage, and sacrifice.

We Were Soldiers — Probably the finest film made about the war in Vietnam. Not full of anti-war, anti-American, pro-Communist bull like most of the films about Vietnam were. Mel Gibson as Colonel Hal Moore is superb, possibly his best role ever.

The Fountainhead — Very excellent film about a man who will not compromise who he is or what he believes in for anything or anyone. Does what he believes to be right even though all of society begs him to just go along, give in, be like everybody else.

Dr. Strangelove — Superb. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this film just reeks of manliness. While things certainly do not work out quite right in the end, sometimes you just need a tough guy like General Jack D. Ripper or Major Kong to do what milk-toast President Merkin Muffley couldn’t do, stand up to the Commies. Bravo.

Gran Torino — A bitter and grizzled old combat veteran, takes a young fatherless kid under his wing and teaches him what it means to be a man. Some of Clint Eastwood’s best work so far.

Red Dawn — Certainly a little cheesy, but it shows that men (or even young boys) will rise to the occasion and defend themselves and their freedom when called upon. A manly classic if you grew up in the late eighties & early nineties.

Uncommon Valor — Very underrated film, and some of Hackman’s better work. A Korean war vet (Hackman) leads a platoon of his son’s Vietnam veteran buddies on a rescue mission back into Laos / Cambodia to rescue his son and other P.O.W.’s still being held by the enemy. Very moving story about the bond between a father & son, as well as men who have bled together in combat.

Ride The High Country — One of the greatest westerns ever made. One of Sam Peckinpah’s earliest films, is also one of his most poignant. Story about two old washed-out gunfighters who take on one last mission to escort a mining company’s gold payroll through the mountains. Best line from the movie: “I just want to enter my own house justified.”

The Wild Geese — Bad-ass British mercs take out on a mission to Africa to overthrow some Communist thug, they get double-crossed and sold-out. So they go back to London and take down the guy who hired them. Merc’s, African coup’s, political intrigue, FN/FAL rifles; what’s any more manly than that?

386 Chetan July 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

good job man!! Though its very difficult to substitute the listed movies, but like everyone I have a few recommendations of my own:
1. The Pursuit of Happyness
2. Big Fish
3. A Beautiful Mind
4. My Left Foot
5. City of God (Cida de Zeus)
And a few Indian flicks which I think u should have a look at…
1. Munna bhai M.B.B.S.( loosely inspired from Patch Adams, but amazingly witty and soulful) 2. Omkara (Adapted from Othello) 3. Swades ( the story of how an Indian working at NASA, discovers himself and his motherland) 4. The Legend of Bhagat Singh (Life of an Indian revolutionary in colonial times who questioned Mahatma and his ways…India’s Che Guevara )5. Black (an Indian version of Hellen Kellers story )

387 Peter W July 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Pretty good list. I agree that some were missed, some were included that shouldn’t, and some suggestions were just plain wack! “Dances With Wolves” Really?!!
I would tend to avoid the comic book genre myself, but would also include “The Cowboys” (great JW film), “Hud” (Paul Newman? I rest my case), Clint Eastwood… take your pick, but I do think “Gran Torino” fits best here… check it out if you haven’t seen it. Does anyone remember “My Bodyguard”? Excellent movie. I haven’t seen any love for “Stand By Me”!!! Great movie. How about “American Graffitti”? “This Is Spinal Tap”? “Heavy Metal”? “Big Chill”?
Greatest Line: (approx:) Smell that? I love the smell of napalm in the morning!…
later… Charlie don’t surf!!!

388 Josh Katsanis; Albuquerque, NM July 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Didn’t see it listed but you MUST add “The Professionals” to the list – Lee Marven, Burt Lancaster, Jack Palance.

J.W. Grant: You bastard.
Rico: Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you’re a self-made man.

Rico: So what else is on your mind besides hundred-proof women, ‘n’ ninety-proof whiskey, ‘n’ fourteen-carat gold?
Bill Dolworth: Amigo, you just wrote my epitaph!

389 j yarbrough July 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm

How about considering these….
Glengarry Glenn Ross, Serpico, A Few Good Men, Little Big Man, Used Cars, Sandlot
The Outlaw Josey Wales, Out of Africa, Apocalypto, The Ghost and the Darkness, and a recent one I just saw Taken.

I believe really great movies can add so much to our lives if we will learn their lessons…

Enjoy these if you haven’t yet.

390 j yarbrough July 13, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I forgot Second Hand Lions…. a worthy addition in my book…

391 Mr. Fairchild July 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

You forgot The Great Gatsby the one with robert redford

392 Peter July 17, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Of interest only to Philly fans, perhaps, but Rocky ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not the library. It must have struck a chord: To this day, every day, dozens of regular folk still do the same, bouncing at the top with hands held high, manly champions all.
PS: The museum’s worth a visit on its own world-class merits, no matter how you choose to get up the steps.

393 Dyre42 July 18, 2010 at 12:25 am

I’m with a few others here in saying The Last Samurai should absolutely be on this list.

394 TC July 18, 2010 at 3:07 am

I think “Blackhawk Down” should be on this list. Detailing the battle of Mogadishu, the soldiers conduct themselves with honor, courage, and dignity as they attempt to fight their way out of the city. In particular, the self-sacrifice of two Delta Force operatives attempting to defend the downed copter and surviving pilot is particularly poignant…this was a true story.

395 Jerome Yeo July 18, 2010 at 6:32 am

The Last Don by Mario Puzo, Casino and Last Samurai should be there in the list!

396 Andy July 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

This article began by saying an excellent movie is as mind expanding and life changing as a good book is. Wrong! Please leave movies in the category they belong in: entertainment. Any decent book is light years ahead of any, any movie no matter how “great” it might seem to be.

397 -R. July 24, 2010 at 11:46 am

…just dropped by to drop a line ;) great site (u already knew that), great list (we already knew that), just one or two movies missing, both from Sergio Leone. Both the Once Upon a Time… (America and West). Other than that you nailed it!!!

Kudos from Portugal!

398 Lynch Hung July 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

You completely forgot the most important films: Anything from Alex Jones, the Police State Series 1,2,3,4, The Obama Deception, or how about Loose Change Final Cut? One of the most important aspects of being a man is learning about the great “cons-piracy” for world government, the banking elite, and how us men must fight them to protect or family, fortunes, and sacred honor..

399 hotfile download July 25, 2010 at 7:58 pm

It’s a bit of a family joke that you can get me to tear up just by having me explain the PLOT to that film. it got some information about movies. thanx for sharing.

400 Lenny July 29, 2010 at 12:01 am

Great list! Movies I would add:

All the King’s Men
Apocalypse Now
The Deer Hunter
The Four Feathers (the original from 1939, not the 2002 remake)
Good Will Hunting
Raging Bull
Terminator 1 and 2
The Truman Show
Wall Street
The Wild Bunch

Can’t think of what I’d remove from the list though; it’s hard to narrow it to 100!

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