Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jon Finkel.
“I’ll be back.”
“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?”
These are just a few common manly movie lines that you won’t be seeing on this list. This isn’t to say that the above lines aren’t manly–they most certainly are–but they’re manly in a tough guy, show-offy kind of way. If the character never said those lines, and simply, in the case of The Terminator, came back, or in the case of Dirty Harry, took care of the bad guy without saying a word, the story would not have suffered. It might have been less cool, but the outcome of the event and the movie would have remained the same.
In honor of the upcoming Oscars, this list of manly movie quotes honors those lines and/or speeches that not only are pivotal to the outcome of the movie, but also have manly implications in the real world and offer ways to deal with children, adversaries, evil, and groupthink. In no particular order:
THE STAKES: At the height of the Cold War, the underdog USA Hockey team has an opportunity to take out the nearly unbeatable Russian squad in the Olympics.
THE RESULT: This speech sparked the fire that led Team USA to beat the hated Russians.
WHY IT’S MANLY: Could anything have been manlier in 1980 than defeating Communism in its national pastime on a world stage? It might be hyperbolic to say that Herb Brooks’ speech led to the win that led to the United States’ confidence that led us to believe we could win the Cold War, but then again, it might not be. The “nine times out of ten” line is the ultimate manly motivator for anyone facing long odds.
MOVIE: Planet of the Apes (original)
THE STAKES: In the upside down world of this movie, apes are the dominant species and humans are treated like slaves. That is, until Charlton Heston showed up.
THE RESULT: The apes were forced to acknowledge the potential intelligence of humans, and it turned their upside down world, well, upside down.
WHY IT’S MANLY: What could possibly be manlier than speaking out for all of mankind? This line established Taylor as a man to fear and made certain apes question everything they believed in. Sometimes, when you can’t take it anymore, you have to speak out and put it all on the line.
MOVIE: ROCKY BALBOA
THE STAKES: After all Rocky has been through, he is watching his son grow up to be a finger-pointing coward. Rocky’s kid, like many in his generation, wants to blame everyone else for his lot in life instead of his own actions and choices. Rocky can’t watch his son go down that road.
THE RESULT: Rocky gets his son to believe in himself and to understand the value of taking responsibility and being your own person.
WHY IT’S MANLY: Nothing more manly than teaching your son how to be a man.
MOVIE: Crimson Tide
QUOTE: Capt. Ramsey: Mr. Hunter, we have rules that are not open to interpretation, personal intuition, gut feelings, hairs on the back of your neck, little devils or angels sitting on your shoulder. We’re all very well aware of what our orders are and what those orders mean. They come down from our Commander in Chief. They contain no ambiguity. Hunter: Captain… Capt. Ramsey: Mr. Hunter. I’ve made a decision. I’m Captain of this boat. NOW SHUT THE F*CK UP!
THE STAKES: An armed United States nuclear submarine may or may not have been given orders to launch its missiles and start World War III. Captain Ramsey, played by Gene Hackman, believes he has orders in hand, while his second in command, Hunter, played by Denzel Washington, does not. Hackman, like any man in charge, will not tolerate insubordination. While losing your cool is rarely manly, it is occasionally necessary to let people know who the boss is.
THE RESULT: Captain Ramsey forces Hunter into mutiny, which leads to a drawn out battle of wills over whether or not the sub has orders to launch. In the end, the order was not given and WWIII was avoided, but Ramsey’s bulldog leadership style makes the Navy rethink their nuclear launch strategy.
WHY IT’S MANLY: With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Captain Ramsey will not accept any dissent in the ranks. While many of us have dealt with difficult colleagues, Ramsey doesn’t have to worry about being politically correct on a nuclear sub. He says what many of us would like to in our own version of this event, only he does it to defend the orders he has to effectively end the world as we know it. Having the courage to believe in convictions on that level is nothing short of manly.
THE STAKES: After Maximus has his entire life ripped from him by Commodus, he faces him for the first time on the floor of the Colosseum. Maximus’ entire existence and the existence of Rome hangs in the balance.
THE RESULT: Maximus strikes fear into the heart of Commodus and gives the Senate, as well as the Roman people, hope that the dream of Rome will one day return.
WHY IT’S MANLY: Defying an evil, unworthy emperor who is driving the world’s greatest empire into the toilet is always manly. Plus, Maximus’ line pulls off the triple crown of revealing that he’s alive, that he’s furious, and that he’ll have his revenge, in this life or the next.
QUOTE: Frank Campana: Look at me! Look at me! Why are we here, Brendan? Why are we here? Are we here to win this fight? You tell me, ’cause if we’re not, I’ll throw in the towel right now. We’ll get Tess and we will go home. You don’t knock him out, you lose the fight. Understand me? You don’t knock him out, you don’t have a home.
THE STAKES: Brendan, a washed up UFC fighter, is getting pummeled by the greatest mixed martial artist alive in a nationally televised tournament for a ton of cash. He’s been fired from his job, he’s about to lose his house, he’s broke, and he has a wife and child to support. His trainer, Campana, reminds him about everything he is fighting for between rounds.
THE RESULT: Brendan rallies to defeat the incredibly intimidating Koba. No need to give away the ending of the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but needless to say, good things happen for Brendan after this.
WHY IT’S MANLY: With the current state of our economy the way it is, there are a million Brendan’s out there who would kill for the chance to make all their troubles go away in one shot. Brendan has it with this tournament. He is an overwhelming underdog, but he has much more to lose than any other fighter. When his longtime trainer reminds him of what’s at stake if he loses, Brendan rises to the challenge. His winnings will save his house and his family; nothing more manly than that.
THE STAKES: Not to overstate it, but the outcome of World War II was on the line at the time of this quote.
THE RESULT: The United States was not on the losing side of World War II. Patton’s famously gritty and potent rhetoric obviously wasn’t the only thing to lead the US to victory, but it inspired the men who went on to lead the US to victory.
WHY IT’S MANLY: Patton was a controversial leader, to say the least, but he was the leader of the United States Third Army which captured a larger number of enemy prisoners and freed more enemy territory in a shorter time span than any other army to date. You can’t do that without knowing how to light a fire under those in your command. Leading men into battle to defend freedom and the American way is manly no matter how you slice it.
What are your favorite unsung manly movie quotes? Share your picks with us in the comments!
Jon Finkel is the author of The Three Dollar Scholar: Awesome Advice for Acing Life’s Major Decisions and Mindless Debates. He has written for GQ, Men’s Health, ComedyCentral.com, and The New York Times, among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @3dollarscholar or visit www.thethreedollarscholar.com
Last updated: January 28, 2016