The manliest films of all time

Ben Skipper
Yahoo UK Movies Features

Sick of hearing about ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn's’ angst-ridden vampires, two dimensional characters and werewolves that don’t wear clothes?

Well, we’re here to cure your woes and inject a little more awesomeness into your movie-watching weekend. Those little boys with their sparkly skin and whiny ways have no place here, as we take you through the very manliest manly films ever to grace the silver screen.


Die Hard

VESTS. It’s scientifically proven that only one man - fictional or otherwise - has ever existed who can pull off the vest look. That man is John McClane, the everyman hero of the ‘Die Hard’ franchise. He wears a vest better than anyone reading or writing this and takes on a skyscraper full of terrorists barefooted in the process. He takes a beating throughout and comes out looking every bit as war torn as he should after a night like that, but throughout he remains quick-witted and good humoured. That’s as manly as it gets gentlemen.







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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Killing Nazis, discovering ancient treasure, getting the girl and doing it all with a wry smile, roguish charm and a fetching fedora. Indiana Jones lives out the boyhood dreams of every man on the planet. The films (of which there are ONLY THREE) are each brilliant in their own way. The first is perfect, the second is deliciously dark and the third, well, it has Sean Connery as Indy’s Dad. The films have yet to be matched in Hollywood (but gaming series ‘Uncharted’ is similarly fantastic) because it’s the pinnacle of boy’s own adventure.

Jaws

Three men on a boat, hunting down a killer shark. It’s the stag do we all wish we could have. Man vs. Nature is always ripe for hijinx of the highest (manliest) order and there’s no finer example than Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’. The scenes with Brody, Quint and Hooper on the boat - talking about harrowing experiences and drinking copiously - are examples of male camaraderie at its finest.

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Goldfinger

Despite there being over 20 ‘Bond’s, the one that would make this list was never in any doubt. Of course it was going to be Sean Connery’s version of the character and of course it was going to be ‘Goldfinger’. Some men lose sight of their boyhood thirst for adventure, some no longer see the fun in nonsense action films but all men, every single one of them, wants to be James Bond. ‘Goldfinger’ is the perfect Bond film that is timeless despite (or because) how clearly 1960s it is.

The Shawshank Redemption

It may not draw cheers from a male viewer or inspire them to take up boxing/spying/avenging people but show me a man who doesn’t love this film and I’ll show you a great Brett Ratner movie. The film’s characters are men of all kinds. There are bullies, sickos and psychos but most importantly, there are men who are ultimately good natured despite the crimes of their past. ‘Shawshank’ is about friendship and has an ending that no real man should be ashamed at crying over.

Rocky IV


The most celebrated of Stallone’s characters, Rocky might be the greatest everyman in cinema history. He’s big, dumb but with a heart of gold and fists that hit hard enough to make Soviet Russia cheer for the guy with red, white and blue shorts. ‘Rocky IV’ may not be the best of the films (that would be the first) but it’s the most consistently entertaining. Rocky avenging the death of his friend Apollo Creed strikes a chord with all men.

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First Blood


Stallone would go on to make Rambo a Schwarzenegger style action hero but the best film will always be the first. A troubled Vietnam vet, John Rambo heads to the small town of Hope only for the local Sheriff to drive him out of town, thinking he is a drifter. A military manhunt and total carnage ensues.  Even better is how Rambo defies action hero convention and doesn’t kill everyone he sees. He would in later films but here he only kills one person, and even then it’s indirectly.

Predator

Arnie had to make an appearance on this list at some point due to his unrelenting machismo and what better example of it than ‘Predator’? Well, most of his films would be up there but we’ve gone with this one for reasons beyond the oddly-homoerotic handshake that welcomed you to this gallery. It’s his supporting cast that sees this triumph over top class competition. Not only the iconic beastie of the film’s title but also Carl Weathers and Jesse “This stuff will make you a God damned sexual Tyrannosaurus” Ventura.

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Gladiator

Ridley Scott’s monumentally successful epic is equal parts revenge flick and Shakespearian drama – a mix of genres that ends up being as amazing as it sounds. Rather than honing in on the action (although there is plenty of that too) this is about what happens to a man when you kill his wife and child. It turns out, in the case of Russell Crowe’s gruff hero Maximus Decimus Meridius, that he becomes consumed by rage and takes it all out on people by lopping off limbs and giving the establishment a big single digit salute. 

Fight Club

A film about men setting themselves free from the shackles of everyday life by beating each other to a bloody pulp. Nice. David Fincher’s classic goes a little deeper than that, delving into themes of masculinity and the idea of possessions owning people instead of the other way around. It’s profound, interesting and most importantly for this particular list, cooler than Samuel L. Jackson in a fridge freezer.

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The Great Escape

It’s those damn Nazis again, but this time they’re not on the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant, they’re just looking after some prisoners of war. It should be a fairly routine job, but when your prisoners include Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and one of the coolest men who ever lived, Steve McQueen, it becomes a bit stressful. Another film on this list about fighting the powers that be. Now whistle that theme tune, whistle it good.

Heat

Michael Mann’s best film by several country miles, ‘Heat’ is owner of two incredible and yet entirely different scenes. The bank heist that goes awry is an eardrum-pounding set piece and the quintessential Mann shoot-out. The cafe scene with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino’s warring criminal and cop is one of cinema’s finest examples of scriptwriting and acting. The story concerns the pair as they hunt each other down and find each other out, only to discover that they’re not so different.  ‘Heat’ is a film all about the mind-games between two world-weary men, and it’s a delight to watch the crime epic unfold.