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The Top 10 "Manly Man" Movies of all Time

Updated on May 15, 2013

What we do in life, echoes an eternity...

You're not going to find The Notebook and Sweet Home Alabama on this list. Conversely, you also will not find Scarface or Goodfellas here either. This list is a collection of films that I believe truly captivated the male gender and explored solid friendships, the ability to make hard decisions, our love of ridiculous humor, and great men that did great things during very hard circumstances. You will not find any movies that have "true" sequels. These are "one off" classics that capture all things man, dude, friend, and bruh. And no, neither The Big Lebowski, nor Point Break made the list.

We are just men, not gods, not giants, just men.


#10: "It's better to be dead and cool, than alive and uncool."

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man was a complete flop at the theaters. It has went on to discover success as a classic among guys as a film riddled with repeatable one liners and incredibly accurate, albeit, extreme life lessons. It stars Mickey Rourke as Harley and Don Johnson as the Marlboro Man. These two are lifelong friends that live on both sides of the tracks when it comes to legality and goodness. In the film, there is a new drug on the street killing kids in droves. Harley and Marlboro, while low level criminals, detest these drug peddling thugs pushing this drug to children and decide to take it upon themselves to take them down. With Johnson's character always spouting off lines that start with "My old man used to tell me before he left this sh!$$& world..." and Rourke saying things like "Oh God, if you're up there, looking down from wherever it is you look down from... look away now"; you just can't go wrong with this classic tale.


#9: "I'm your new catcher, and you just got lesson number one; Don't think. You can only hurt the ball club."

Bull Durham is the perfect mentor/student story wrapped up in a classic sports movie. Kevin Costner plays Crash Davis, a washed up minor league baseball player who has been called in to develop a rookie pitcher with a "million dollar arm and a 5 cent head"; played by Tim Robbins. But there's a catch (pardon the pun); because he has another mentor in Annie Savoy, played by Susan Sarandon. Her job is to give him life wisdom and encouragement to improve. Costner and Sarandon often find themselves at odds on what it will take to get Nuke (Robbins) to "The Show". The ballpark scenes are a riot, the banter between Costner and Robbins is hysterical, and the tension between Sarandon and Costner will drive you nuts. So pop in the DVD, smear your eye black on, break out the old ball glove, and enjoy this flick......Meat!

Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present.
Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present. | Source

#8: "The All-Father wove the skein of your life a long time ago. Go and hide in a hole if you wish. Your fate is fixed. Fear profits a man nothing."

The 13th Warrior is the first movie on this list to step out of the modern world and into the sword wielding and legendary age of men. The movie is based on Michael Crichton's novel, The Eaters of the Dead. Antonio Banderas plays an Arabic Poet who has been exiled from his country for looking at the wrong girl. He becomes an ambassador to the "North Lands" and runs into a group of Norsemen. The Norsemen get called away on an urgent quest back home but must bring a 13th warrior that cannot be a "North Man". From that point, the parallels with the poem Beowulf are pretty uncanny as the warriors face off against the Wendol. Even the lead Viking's name Buliwyf bears a striking resemblance to the old tale. Banderas begins to grow as a man and learn the carefree, fiercely loyal, and superstitious nature of the Norsemen. The battle scenes are tense, and the ending scene is nothing short of outstanding.

"Lo, they do call me, they bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever"
"Lo, they do call me, they bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever" | Source

#7: "Yeah? Well, I'm comin' out now. 'Cause Kelly's got the perfect caper!"

Kelly's Heroes is the first "war movie" to make the list. Oddly enough, the reason this movie made the list has nothing to do with it being about war. It also has nothing to do with it starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, and Donald Sutherland although those would both be good reasons for it to be featured. The impetus for including this movie stems from the fact that it is a perfect case study on how a group of guys that are friends function. Every group has a joker (Rickles), a leader (Eastwood), a guy that's a little "off" but is always there in a pinch (Sutherland), and the guy that is a little bit of each and is able to hold the group together and solve disputes (Savalas). The story centers on a group of soldiers who go "off the grid" during WWII because they have discovered there's a cache of gold in a nearby town. You might say the plot sounds like the movie Three Kings, and you're right. However, skip out on Clooney and Ice Cube because Sutherland and Eastwood make for more of a hilarious, action packed joyride; literally.

"Look, Captain, we've been rained on, pushed on, bombed on...mortared on by Mulligan all the way from the Normandy beachhead!"
"Look, Captain, we've been rained on, pushed on, bombed on...mortared on by Mulligan all the way from the Normandy beachhead!" | Source

#6: "Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!"

Conan the Barbarian was the first movie I selected for this list, even though not for the #1 spot. Yes, it has a sequel, but not a true sequel as it doesn't continue the story of this first film. Also, I'm speaking of the 1982 version of this movie with Arnold, not Jason Momoa. There are so many scenes in this film that still ring home with me and to many other guys out there. The relationship, although short lived, between the father and the son, the loss of his parents, the feeling of having to do it alone only to discover it helps to have friends, and the culmination of a life's quest to bring closure to your efforts. This movie should be in every guy's collection.

Conan, what is best in life?

"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."...Priceless!
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."...Priceless! | Source

#5: "I feel the need....the need for speed!"

You just knew Top Gun had to make this list. Buddies and dudes the world over still quote its one liners, it still gets replayed on television constantly, and it was a movie that captured the arrogance of man, the fall from grace, and the triumphant return of spirit. I would also bet money that Tom Cruise wishes he could get a sequel for it. Anthony Edwards as "Goose" plays perfect comic relief to Cruise's character, Maverick, and his over inflated ego. The movie also has three very different antagonists in Val Kilmer's "Iceman", Maverick's heritage, and the loss of a best friend. There's thrills, laughs, intense moments, and knuckle biting flight sequences in this all or nothing vintage Tom Cruise film.

"Good morning gentlemen, the temperature is 110 degrees"

"I'm too close for missiles, I'm switching to guns!"
"I'm too close for missiles, I'm switching to guns!" | Source

#4: "There can be only one!"

The Highlander was another "man movie" instant addition. You've got swords, and master teaching apprentice, and the prospect of immortality. Sean Connery plays Ramirez, a teacher to a newly established immortal named Macleod; played by Christopher Lambert. The "bad guy" in this, Kurgan, is truly one of those evil men you love to hate. Yes, it certainly contains a bit of overacting in some parts, and not enough in others, but on the whole, it is a fantastic film. There are sequels and TV sequels to this film, but as any fan of this movie will tell you..."There can be only one." The movie spans from 1536 to 1986 with incredibly smooth transitions between the timeframes. Connery's role is performed in typical Connery style and Lambert's whit after peaking as an immortal is suave, if not somewhat curt. Add the special edition of this movie to your DVD rack and you will be surprised at how many times you "revisit" its greatness.

Crude and slow clansman...

"Don't lose your temper. If your head comes away from your neck, it's over."
"Don't lose your temper. If your head comes away from your neck, it's over." | Source

#3: When one man says to another, "I know what let's do today, let's play the war game."... everybody dies.

You should probably be drug outside and smacked around a little if you're a guy and you haven't seen A Bridge Too Far. This movie is JUST that good! The fact that it stars Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine, Ryan O'Neal, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, James Caan, and Gene Hackman should grant a viewing on acting chops alone. The movie is about the failed operation "Market Garden" during WWII, in which we wanted to seize control of key bridges in Holland. While the operation may have failed, the movie showcases the heroic actions of great men, the bond between fellow soldiers, and the tough decisions that must be made by leaders in order to accomplish the mission. There are some absolutely stoic sequences in this motion picture that will hit you right where it counts. And if you are a man that struggles with a good definition of loyalty and camaraderie, just watch the sequence with SSG Eddie Dohun(Caan), CPT Glass(Nicholas Campbell), and a medical colonel; you'll never question your definition again. A photo of that sequence is featured below.

"No, no. Guarantee me. I want you to guarantee me I won't die."

"I guarantee you"
"I guarantee you" | Source

#2: "I will win the crowd. I will give them something they have never seen before."

Gladiator did win the crowd and it did give us something we had never seen before. Russell Crowe earned every ounce of the Oscar he won for this movie. Crowe plays the role of Maximus, a Roman general during the Germanic wars, who is betrayed by an overly ambitious and murderous Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), loses his family and status, is sold into slavery, forced to compete as a gladiator, and eventually comes back around to exact retribution and justice on Mr. Commodus.

The supporting cast in this film is stellar and serves to make Crowe's role even more robust. Marcus Aurelius is played by Richard Harris, prior to his departure to become the two term Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Phoenix is just downright evil in this film and Connie Nielsen's Lucilla plays the role of silent artifex and wounded mother very well. Throw in the gladatorial combat, the natural leadership that Crowe possesses in this script, and the sweet justice at the end and you have a recipe for two hours of man joy that you will not want to miss.

"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North. General of the Felix Legions"

The praetorian in this scene is about to find out what "Strength and Honor" is...
The praetorian in this scene is about to find out what "Strength and Honor" is... | Source

Did I miss something?

How many of you felt the following movies should have been included?

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How to decide among a sea of choices...

The decision on which movie would earn my #1 spot on this list was rough.....but not that rough. I went back to my introduction paragraph in this article and asked myself which movie really had every single component. Then I asked myself if it had a leading character I would have followed. Check. Did it have friends that would stick their neck out for me even when they didn't agree with my methods? Check. Does the movie balance the action with drama, and even some humor? Check. Did the characters drop one liners that I didn't want to forget after watching? Huge Check! So at the end of the self interview process, it came down to only one choice. The #1 spot on the list of Top "Manly Man" movies of All Time goes to..............

"You called down the thunder, well now you got it!"

#1: "I'm your Huckleberry...and that's just my game."

Tombstone had it ALL! It had four friends that were as tight as brothers, three of which were brothers. It had more one liners that I've committed to memory than any other movie on this list. It had scenes that you want to watch over and over. The acting was top notch, the gunfights were unreal, and the pacing was spot on. Tombstone takes place in Arizona during the gold rush and the movie era known as the "old west". It was the ruthless gang known as the "Cowboys" versus the Earp clan; Wyatt, Vergil, and Morgan Earp. Wyatt's old friend, Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) joined in to provide provocation and a wicked shotgun when needed. Kilmer gets most of the credit in this movie, but Michael Biehn's portrayal of Johnny Ringo was dead on. Powers Boothe and Stephen Lang also did well as Curly Bill Brocious and Ike Clanton respectively. And you can't have a good western these days without Sam Elliot. Virgil Earp was a terse, bitter man in this movie and Elliot played him to a tee. Lastly, you can't say enough about Kurt Russel's portrayal of Wyatt Earp and his friendship with Holliday. Once those two link up in this movie, it's a non stop thrill-a-minute.

So dust off your six shooters, grab your wide brimmed hat, grow out your man stache, and position your brass spittoon by the couch for this epic motion picture from a bygone era. You will not be disappointed!

There was nothing OK about this corral!

"Verg, give Doc the shotgun. They'll be less apt to get nervy if he's on the street howitzer."
"Verg, give Doc the shotgun. They'll be less apt to get nervy if he's on the street howitzer." | Source

"In case some of you are wondering...who the best is..."

Who was the "Top Gun" on this movie list?

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    • Mr Deltoid 1966 profile image


      5 years ago from New Jersey

      I do (and always will) have a soft spot in my head for "Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man"......I'd put "The Great Escape" on the list.

      Nice job.

    • Will Jason profile imageAUTHOR

      Will Jason 

      5 years ago from Chattanooga, Tennessee

      Gone in 60 seconds was a contender. As was, The Professional, Boondock Saints, Fight Club, and Apocalypse Now. When I decided on the finalists, i tried to get a good mix of not only "testosterone" based movies but also the inner workings of men and how they interact and what affects their lives in ways that form who they become as a man.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      5 years ago from California

      I know I'm a lady but I wanted to see what made the list. Clearly I have some homework to do because I haven't heard of 8 of those. What about Gone in Sixty Seconds? I think only men can fully enjoy a bunch of old dudes guessing the make and model of a car by the sound it makes.


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