Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
Co-blogger Paleo Retiree alerted me to this list of essential man movies a couple of weeks ago. I like Art of Manliness — it’s a good blog. And their list is pretty well-considered. Some of the entries — “Unforgiven,” “The Right Stuff,” “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry,” “The French Connection” — are among those films that every person with a nutsack should know. But, nitpicking movie nerd that I am, I couldn’t help feeling dismayed by some of their other choices.
For instance: “Gandhi.” No lost art of manliness worth reviving holds “Gandhi” to be among its cherished works. It’s a movie made for Oscar voters — most of whom are old ladies in spirit if not in actual form. And how many men who aren’t school teachers or aspiring politicians revere “To Kill a Mockingbird”? The film’s main accomplishment is to successfully fellate three or four bleeding heart sympathies at once while vigorously whacking off two more. (As for Gregory Peck, I’m generally not a big fan. He always seems to be auditioning to play Lincoln.)
The omissions are even more distressing. First and foremost, “The Wild Bunch” is not on the list. Let me rephrase that: the mutherfucking “Wild Bunch” is not on the list. Actually, there are no Sam Peckinpah films at all. No Howard Hawks films either; no “Rio Bravo” even. This is a bit like making a list of essential pizza toppings and omitting cheese and pepperoni.
(For the record, if you’re into manly movies, you should — IMHO, of course — see just about everything directed by Peckinpah, Hawks, Raoul Walsh, William Wellman, Henry Hathaway, Anthony Mann, Don Siegel, Budd Boetticher, Jean-Pierre Melville, Walter Hill, and Marco Ferreri.)
So I put together my own list, going all the way back to the early silent era, because I’m thorough like that. It’s mostly comprised of tough-guy pictures involving cowboys, outlaws, cops, fighters, and other guys who operate complicated machinery, use deadly weapons, and brazenly slap women on their bottoms — because to my way of thinking these are the purest kinds of masculine movie.
But I also value variety. To that end, I’ve included art films, hardboiled comedies, wild sex flicks, buddy pictures, even some works that are simply dripping with outstanding derring-do. I think it’s an okay mix. No doubt it could be more diverse, yet there’s value in concentration: Just reading the titles of these films is likely to raise your T levels.
I skipped a bunch of obvious movies because, well, they’re obvious. I also included some obvious ones — because I’m manly enough to say “fuck you” to consistency. Grrrr!
You’ll notice my list is 50% bigger than the one at Art of Manliness. Size matters.
Hell’s Hinges (Swickard/Hart, 1916)
The Pilgrim (Borzage, 1916)
A Man There Was (Sjostrom, 1917)
The Butcher Boy (Arbuckle, 1917)
When the Clouds Roll By (Fleming, 1919)
One Week (Keaton, 1920)
Johan (Stiller, 1921)
Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922)
What Price Glory (Walsh, 1926)
Two Arabian Knights (Milestone, 1927)
West of Zanzibar (Browning, 1928)
A Girl in Every Port (Hawks, 1928)
Hell’s Heroes (Wyler, 1929)
The Iron Mask (Dwan, 1929)
The Virginian (Fleming, 1929)
The Dawn Patrol (Hawks, 1930)
Dirigible (Capra, 1931)
Blonde Crazy (Del Ruth, 1931)
The Mask of Fu Manchu (Brabin, 1932)
Blessed Event (Del Ruth, 1932)
Red Dust (Fleming, 1932)
Scarface (Hawks, 1932)
The Bowery (Walsh, 1933)
The Lost Patrol (Ford, 1934)
The Call of the Wild (Wellman, 1935)
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (Hathaway, 1935)
Ceiling Zero (Hawks, 1936)
Dodsworth (Wyler, 1936)
Grand Illusion (Renoir, 1937)
Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939)
Gunga Din (Stevens, 1939)
Northwest Passage (Vidor, 1940)
His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940)
Man Power (Walsh, 1941)
Corvette K-225 (Hawks/Rosson)
Bataan (Garnett, 1943)
Dillinger (Nosseck, 1945)
Objective, Burma! (Walsh, 1945)
They Were Expendable (Ford, 1945)
The Story of G.I. Joe (Wellman, 1945)
The Killers (Siodmak, 1946)
The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946)
Death Thumbs a Ride (Feist, 1947)
T-Men (Mann, 1947)
Fort Apache (Ford, 1948)
Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1948)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Huston, 1948)
Manon (Clouzot, 1949)
The Small Back Room (Powell/Pressburger, 1949)
Night and the City (Dassin, 1950)
The Breaking Point (Curtiz, 1950)
Crosswinds (Foster, 1951)
Fixed Bayonets! (Fuller, 1951)
His Kind of Woman (Farrow, 1951)
On Dangerous Ground (Ray, 1951)
Little Big Horn (Warren, 1951)
Cry Danger (Parrish, 1951)
The Narrow Margin (Fleischer, 1952)
Outcast of the Islands (Reed, 1952)
The Big Heat (Lang, 1953)
The Wages of Fear (Clouzot, 1953)
Vera Cruz (Aldrich, 1954)
The Purple Plain (Parrish, 1954)
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (Becker, 1954)
Crime Wave (De Toth, 1954)
The Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954)
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, 1954)
Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955)
The Man from Laramie (Mann, 1955)
Bob le Flambeur (Melville, 1955)
Seven Men from Now (Boetticher, 1956)
The Killing (Kubrick, 1956)
3:10 to Yuma (Daves, 1957)
Men in War (Mann, 1957)
The Lineup (Siegel, 1958)
Murder By Contract (Lerner, 1958)
Man of the West (Mann, 1958)
Ride Lonesome (Boetticher, 1959)
Day of the Outlaw (De Toth, 1959)
Last Train from Gun Hill (Sturges, 1959)
Rio Bravo (Hawks, 1959)
North to Alaska (Hathaway, 1960)
Le Trou (Becker, 1960)
A Killing in Yoshiwara (Uchida, 1960)
Yojimbo (Kurosawa, 1961)
Blast of Silence (Baron, 1961)
Hell is for Heroes (Siegel, 1962)
Knife in the Water (Polanski, 1962)
Il Sorpasso (Risi, 1962)
Ride the High Country (Peckinpah, 1962)
The Third Shadow Warrior (Inoue, 1963)
Harakiri (Kobayashi, 1963)
Goldfinger (Hamilton, 1964)
Bandits of Orgosolo (De Seta, 1964)
The Dictator’s Guns (Sautet, 1965)
Le Deuxieme Souffle (Melville, 1966)
The Born Losers (Laughlin, 1967)
Point Blank (Boorman, 1967)
Pit Stop (Hill, 1969)
The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969)
Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, 1971)
Straw Dogs (Peckinpah, 1971)
Milano Calibro 9 (Di Leo, 1972)
Deliverance (Boorman, 1972)
The Outside Man (Deray, 1972)
Junior Bonner (Peckinpah, 1972)
The Last Detail (Ashby, 1973)
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (Hough, 1974)
Going Places (Blier, 1974)
Hard Times (Hill, 1975)
The Man Who Would Be King (Huston, 1975)
Calmos (Blier, 1976)
The Last Woman (Ferreri, 1976)
Cross of Iron (Peckinpah, 1977)
Big Wednesday (Milius, 1978)
The Driver (Hill, 1978)
Straight Time (Grosbard/Hoffman, 1978)
The Warriors (Hill, 1979)
Breaking Away (Yates, 1979)
The Constant Factor (Zanussi, 1980)
Smash Palace (Donaldson, 1981)
Tales of Ordinary Madness (Ferreri, 1982)
Utu (Murphy, 1984)
To Live and Die in L.A. (Friedkin, 1985)
Ran (Kurosawa, 1985)
Mona Lisa (Jordan, 1986)
Eat the Peach (Ormrod, 1986)
Predator (McTiernan, 1987)
Hamburger Hill (Irvin, 1987)
They Live (Carpenter, 1988)
The Hot Spot (Hopper, 1990)
Internal Affairs (Figgis, 1990)
Black Robe (Beresford, 1991)
One False Move (Franklin, 1992)
Bitter Moon (Polanski, 1992)
Carlito’s Way (De Palma, 1993)
The Last Seduction (Dahl, 1994)
Breakdown (Mostow, 1997)
Training Day (Fuqua, 2001)
Bukowski: Born Into This (Dullaghan, 2003)
Election (To, 2005)
Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)
Shotgun Stories (Nichols, 2008)
Tyson (Toback, 2008)
Crank 2: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor, 2009)
Red Cliff 1 & 2 (Woo, 2009)
13 Assassins (Miike, 2010)
Warrior (O’Connor, 2011)
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Hyams, 2012)
The Hunt (Vinterberg, 2012)
So what do you think? Is my list bullshit? What are some of your favorite man movies?
This post brought to you by Angie Dickinson attempting to put a dent in Lee Marvin:
- Jack Donovan’s book about manly virtues, “The Way of Men,” is a nice companion to some of these movies. I reviewed it back here.
Coincidentally, RIDE LONESOME arrived from Netflix yesterday. I watched both THE HUNT and INTERNAL AFFAIRS recently too. Maybe male movie lovers should have to chant this list like a cinematic bar mitzvah?
They’d probably pass out before they got to the end.
Curious to hear what you thought of “Ride Lonesome.”
Way way better than the other list. And I like your being OK with being inconsistent. It’s how you see it fer chissakes. You did include some of the things that really had to be on any such list, like To Live and Die in LA, Point Blank, The Wild Bunch and The Man Who Would be King. But you also included a number that would not ordinarily demand to be listed, but which are among my favorites and which work here extremely well. Black Robe? Excellent. Ditto One False Move, Internal Affairs, Training Day and the odd but appropriate Bitter Moon. Election? What the hell.
What might I add? Sorcerer. Who’ll Stop the Rain. The Duellists. Mikey and Nicky. Betrayal. The American Friend. Glengarry Glen Ross. Matewan. And a less conventional choice maybe: Hope and Glory.
Didn’t quite make the cut: Thelma and Louise, which after all is an existential asshole buddy movie in drag. Just not good enough.
I thought of “Sorcerer,” but I like “Wages” a lot better, so I went with that. I also thought of “Hope and Glory” as well as a bunch of other nostalgic man movies, like “Not Fade Away” and “Diner.” Ultimately I minimized that and kept just “Breaking Away.”
“Mikey and Nicky” and the “Duellists” . . . maybe I should have included those. Great choices.
I get a number of lawyer magazines and whenever the subject of the profession’s portrayal in pop culture comes up, the #1 most loved work is always TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Every. Single. Time. Which is unsurprising I guess given how lawyers are usually portrayed, but that should give you some indication of the T-levels and politics in this biz.
Every goddamned liberal I know LOVES that movie. The stupid woman who wrote it spent years under the tutelage of another liberal while writing it. And she never wrote another thing of any substance. It was a put-up job.
I don’t think it’s an awful movie. It has its merits, I think. But I’ve never gotten the folks who claim it as one of the greats. Mainly, it flatters you for identifying with Peck. It’s too easy.
A good antidote to “Mockingbird” is Clarence Brown’s “Intruder in the Dust,” which I take to be a legitimately great movie.
I think Laurence of Arabia should be on this list. There are NO women in that film (except a brief scene showing veiled Arab women on camels). Now THAT is machismo.
I thought about including it, then didn’t. Maybe because it’s a little inflated with importance? I was aiming for more gut-level things.
I did have Lean’s “Hobson’s Choice” on the list in an early iteration. That’s a comedy most men can identify with. I deleted it, though. Had to get it down to 150.
Lawrence of Arabia would be an interesting choice because it was about a real-life gay man.
Gotta have Glengarry Glen Ross. Always Be Closing. Words to live by, my friends.
Definitely a movie that’s focused on men. Are you a big Mamet fan?
I’m becoming one. I like the unforced intensity that he brings to the depiction of the lives of ordinary people, from what I’ve seen. But there’s a lot of his stuff I’ve missed…
+1 on the GGR.
What’s up with that original list? So many civil rights movies – even one about anti-Semitism!
Your list is pretty good. I’d probably just add an Anglo edge.
I’d start by swapping out all of your 40s war flicks for Brit classics like “The Cruel Sea”, “The Way Ahead”, “The Gift Horse”, “Reach for the Sky” and anything else with Johnny Mills, Kenneth More or Jack Hawkins in it.
You’ve got to have “The Wild Geese”: Harris, Moore, Kruger, Granger and Burton tear up Africa whilst drinking the place dry…
Add “The Three/Four Musketeers” (1973/4) and their spiritual successor “Royal Flash” for their bawdy, free-wheeling, 70s sexism and adventure.
Pretty much anything by ex-cop Olivier Marshal (“36”, “MR73” and “Les Lyonnais”), with it’s tortured French masculinity, should be on the list.
Luc Besson and EuropaCorp also deserve a mention for classics like “Wasabi” and “District 13”.
Almost all of Alexai Balabanov’s films also hit the mark, especially “War” (“Voina”), his ode to Chechen-killing, organised slavery and suppressed weapons.
Great suggestions. I should have thought to include one of the Besson crew’s movies.
The Thing by John Carpenter.
That’s a pretty good one. I’ve never been much of a Carpenter fan, though. “They Live” is about as far as I’m gonna go.
Some movies I might have included had I thought of them earlier: “Killer Joe,” “Get Carter,” “Hell Drivers,” “California Split.”
Any Jean Paul Belmondo in there? Not a huge fan but just saw “Breathless” and “The Professional” recently and top manliness marks for both.
“Gainsbourg”, recentish comic-book-derived biopic of Serge G., fantastic manly flick. Not to be missed.
Those are more the boozin’ whorin’ end of manhood than the more Men at War kind of stuff, but if anything that’s even more taboo now. Imagine James Coburn’s harem in the Flynt movies, being filmed today. Not a chance. Now we have SEALs worrying more about supplicating to their wives’ interior design rampages than about greasing their tank treads with the enemy’s guts.
“Our Man Flynt” and “In Like Flynt” both a riot.
I kind of liked that “Gainsbourg” movie. Interesting choice.
As for Belmondo, I had “Pierrot le Fou” on the list, as well as “The Finger Man,” but they didn’t make the final cut. For my money, Lino Ventura is the roughest, toughest French star of that era.
A funny Belmondo movie from a man perspective is Jacques Deray’s “Borsalino.” Him and Alain Delon shooting people and doing lots of homoerotic stuff. Come to think of it, Deray’s “Swimming Pool” wouldn’t have been a bad inclusion . . .
Ha, my gf, who’s solely responsible for my exposure to Belmondo and Gainsbourg, was disappointed not to find “Pierrot le Four” on the list.
I’ll check out Lino Ventura, thanks.
You’ve got a good girlfriend if she’s turning you onto Godard, Belmondo, and Gainsbourg.
Pardon my French, but if your list doesn’t have Master and Commander, yeah, it’s bullshit.
Do you have a Russell Crowe poster hanging in your bedroom?
Ouch. Cheap shot. 🙂
2.5 hrs and only one passing scene with a woman in it. They spent more screen time building up a pun. No sex scenes, no love interests. Violence was lawful, never chaotic. Death and injury was ever present and arbitrary. I can’t think of a better movie to watch with one’s young sons or nephews.
Also a great choice for Valentine’s Day — a date ‘neg.’
You’re right — it’s a pretty good one. Especially these days when there are so movies that even attempt to do something traditionally masculine.
Southern Comfort (Walter Hill)
Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter)
I like “Southern Comfort” but I already have a bunch of Walter Hill on the list.
“Zulu”. Manly-man movie with bonus colonialism for that extra soupçon of political incorrectness!
I like “The Hunt For Red October” too.
I didn’t think of “Zulu.” That’s a good one.
“Guns of Navarone”
Oh, and “Ronin”, “Thief”, “Heat” and “Conan the Barbarian”
I might have included “Conan,” but I went with “Wednesday” as my Milius. I don’t recall “Ronin” all that well, but I don’t like Michael Mann very much.
“Bridges of Madison County” — dunno much about it, it’s a Clint movie…it’s gotta be a man-fest right?
Dammit, that should of course be *county*, not ‘country’
At the end of the screening I went to, a thirty-something woman had to help her thirty-something female friend down the steps because she was so overcome by tears she couldn’t walk. I felt that was a perfect review of that movie.
I wish somebody would make a proper movie out of Jim Thompson’s ‘The Getaway’
Good book? I’ll have to add it to the list. I didn’t think the Peckinpah movie was all that successful. Kind of like Peckinpah with all the piss taken out if it.
Still a whole lot better than the Alec Baldwin if only for McQueen.
The Getaway was terrific old-skool crime-pulp with surly tough guys and sultry dames. What made the book remarkable was the insanely creepy epilogue, which both movie versions ignored completely. Also, the name of the criminal ‘sanctuary’ where the epilogue is set – El Ray – has been referenced in other works (Tarantino’s Dusk Till Dawn script for example)
Thanks. I’ll have to check it out.
I read it a while ago, but I liked the book a lot. I absolutely agree with Tex, one of the best endings ever.
No ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’??
For real, I’d add:
The Ninth Configuration
I haven’t seen “Configuration.” It’s good?
I love “Charley Varrick,” but I already had a bunch of Siegel films . . .
“Rancho” is an interesting choice. That’s an amusing movie.
I think “The Ninth Configuration” is great, a real gem, but YMMV. It’s an odd-duck film that tries to tackle a deep issue like faith, but also has elements of slapstick and farce. There’s also a few big reveals in the plot so it demands to be re-watched.
Speaking of Stacy Keach, “Fat City” seems at home here too.
Wow long time no see. I have been part of a Men’s Movie Night meeting intermittently over the past 25 years. The Ninth Configuration was one of our first. Interesting movie.
I’d almost forgotten that one. Just a reminder that not everything sucked in the ’70’s.
Hell yeah. Ultimate gut-level man movie?
Yes. Its testosterone-ness is without equal.
Great list and suggestions. Two more? “Dumb and Dumber” and an evening of Three Stooges shorts.
Those are good ones. What’s more manly than juvenile humor?
I thought your list was fantastic — until I read the comments and saw all the incredible films it left out. Way to go everybody. My first five choices would all be “Man Who Would Be King”, but here are a couple out of left field: “Hospital” starring George C. Scott — of all movies and TV shows this is the one that best captures the texture and feel of hospital life. Also, “Porco Rosso” by Miyazaki, which displays the brilliant animator’s love of aircraft to the full. And yes … the Stooges.
George C. Scott could always bring the machismo, that’s for sure. I don’t think “Porco Rosso” is among the Miyazakis I’ve managed to see. Thanks for the tip.
One other movie I regret forgetting: “Mad Max.”
Los Olvidados (a.k.a The Young And The Damned) by Luis Buñuel (1950). Street boys in Mexico City. Cruel with notes of black humor.
One of the greatest Bunuels, IMO.
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“Swept Away” and “Seven Beauties”
it’s a good list
Once Upon a Time in the West
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Man who Fell to Earth
Gangs of New York
A Boy and His Dog
Tell Them Willy Boy is Here
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Deer Hunter
most stuff with McQueen, he didnt have to act much
Thanks. Some good ones there. McQueen is definitely a man-movie icon.
How can this list not have the Bridge on the River Kwai?
Thanks, Manolo. That’s a good one — though I probably would have been more inclined to include it if the movie stayed focused on the Guinness-Hayakawa material, which is always what I’ve liked most about “Bridge.”
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Lonely Are The Brave (1962)
For good G. Peck, check out “Night People” . You’ll like him in that one. And, of course, “Roman Holiday.”
I prefer “Intruder In The Dust”  and “Stars In My Crown”  to “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Same stuff but without all (or almost all) the preciousness.
I was mostly making a joke at Peck’s expense. I do like him a lot of the time, though he gets on my nerves too. I put “The Purple Plain” on my list. I could also have gone with “Cape Fear.”
“Stars in My Crown” is a good one. And “Intruder” is a personal fave of mine.
The Italian Job (1969)
Sexy Beast (2000)
Layer Cake (2004)
Tales of Ordinary Madness and Bitter Moon…Nice!
My own list would include:
Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
Sin City (Rodriguez/Miller, 2005)
The Last American Virgin (Davidson, 1982)
City of Women (Fellini, 1980)
SLAPSHOT??? (Written by a woman!)
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I’ve only seen maybe 40 percent of the movies on this list, at the most, but it seems pretty solid. I’m surprised it doesn’t include the 1939 version of “The Four Feathers,” however.
Yes, no list is complete without the Wild Bunch
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