1. DIRTY HARRY 1972
As avenging cop Dirty Harry Callahan, Clint Eastwood shoots first and
asks questions later, creating the most politically incorrect hero in
movie history. With his ever ready .44 magnum ("the most powerful
handgun in the world"), Clint brings unreconstructed frontier justice
to criminal-coddling San Francisco, becoming a role model for law-and-order
conservatives everywhere. Ronald Reagan even took his best line ("Make
my day") from Sudden Impact, a later
Dirty Harry film.
Key Scene: Clint's final face-off with Scorpio, the deranged psycho
Best Line: "You have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel
lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"
THE GODFATHER 1972
"What is it with men and The Godfather?" wonders chick-flick
princess Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. Tom Hanks responds for us
all: "It is the I Ching. It is the sum of all wisdom." Francis
Ford Coppola's mob opera is the modern guy's indispensable guide to surviving
with honor in a dog-eat-dog world.
Key Scene: How can anyone choose? The horse head in the bed? Sonny's
murder? Michael shooting the cop in the restaurant? We know every one
backward and forward.
Best Line: "Don't ever take sides with anybody against the
family again." "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
"Leave the gun; take the cannolis." There are millions of them.
3. SCARFACE 1983
An unapologetic assault on everything decent and honorable -- and that's
why we love it. Al Pacino's Tony Montana makes his Michael Corleone look
and sound like Mr. Rogers. Nothing beats the film's coke-fueled mobster
wisdom. Lines like: "First you gotta make the money... then you get
the power, then you get the woman" set the tone for a whole generation
of gangsta rappers.
Key Scene: One word: chainsaw.
Best Line: "Say hello to my leetle friend."
4. DIE HARD 1988
Forget all the great action scenes this film has -- the best moments are
when underdog Bruce Willis kicks the snobby Eurotrash villains' asses
without ever losing his all-American sense of humor. The scene where the
German villain gets his comeuppance for trying to use the word "cowboy"
as an insult resonates more today, though it'd be even better if the guy
Key Scene: Bruce crashes through the window hanging from the firehose.
Best Line: "Yippee-kai-yay, motherf--ker!"
5. THE TERMINATOR 1984
Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally offered the human lead, but he realized
that a killer robot from the future was the role he was really born to
play. "There is a little bit of the Terminator in everybody,"
director James Cameron observed. "He operates completely outside
all the built-in social constraints."
Key Scene: Any qualms about rooting for a malevolent robot vanish
when he vaporizes a tacky L.A. dance club.
Best Line: "I'll be back."
6. THE ROAD WARRIOR 1981
Along the endless highways of the Australian outback the loner hero of
western and samurai fame gets a futuristic face-lift from Mel Gibson's
leather-clad Mad Max. The film has it all: punk-rock marauders, a razor-edged
boomerang, postnuclear angst, and high-speed demolition-derby car battles,
plus just the right amount of mythic uplift to put it over the top.
Key Scene: When Wez, the deranged Mohawk man, erupts over the hood
of Max's truck, it's a "boo" shot for the ages.
Best Line: "You want to get out of here, you talk to me."
7. THE DIRTY DOZEN 1967
Forget Catch 22: World War II gets its true sixties makeover when
Lee Marvin trains a bunch of prison rats and turns them into a squad of
stone-cold killers tough enough to make Americans, whether redneck or
hippie, proud as hell. The cast is a macho who's who: Jim Brown, Charles
Bronson, Ernest Borgnine... Telly Savalas! A true believer is anyone who's
seen it a dozen times.
Key Scene: Jim Brown's heroic death sprint, a feat of open-field
running -- while tossing hand grenades -- that beats anything he ever
did with the Cleveland Browns.
Best Line: "You've got one religious maniac, one malignant
dwarf, two near-idiots, and the rest I don't even wanna think about!"
8. THE MATRIX 1999
This cyberpunk epic signaled a new kind of male hero, the tough-guy computer
geek, and Keanu Reeves makes a most excellent digital superdude. By setting
the nonstop action in cyberspace the Wachowski brothers are able to supercharge
all the fights with gravity-defying wire fu and some amazing breakthrough
Key Scene: Neo's airborne subway station showdown with the heinous
Best Line: "There is no spoon."
9. CADDYSHACK 1980
Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and an animatronic gopher
named Chuck E. Rodent make mincemeat of your old man's snooty pastime.
It took 20 years and the arrival of Tiger Woods to make the game seem
Key Scene: Rodney in excelsis at a high-tone country club soiree
bellowing "No offense!" to the horrified diners.
Best Line: "Hey, everybody, we're all gonna get laid!"
10. ROCKY 1976
A blue-collar anthem for the ages, as lunkhead from the neighborhood makes
good because he can absorb a surreal amount of punishment. The sequels
fudged the fable with too many sappy clichés, but the original
lays it on the line. Working guys embraced Sylvester Stallone as a punch-drunk
Great White Hope, often bloodied but still unbowed.
Key Scene: Sly on the steps of Philly's Museum of Art, doing his
bouncy victory dance.
Best Line: "All I wanna do is go the distance."
11. FULL METAL JACKET 1987
The late, great Stanley Kubrick originally thought he was making the ultimate
war-is-hell movie, but in the end the film turns out to be a pitch-black
comedy. Not everyone admires the result (critic David Thomson calls it
"an abomination"), but it has become a true cult classic, and
the fiercely scatological dialogue can be heard in bars and college dorms
everywhere being repeated reverently by fans. Credit must go to R. Lee
Ermey, a former real-life staff sergeant, whose obscene tirades set a
new standard for trash talk.
Key Scene: The sniper's identity revealed: a true peek into the
Best Line: "You had best unf--k yourself or I will unscrew
your head and shit down your neck!"
12. DR. NO 1962
The first and purest of the James Bond flicks, before the series turned
cute and predictable. Sean Connery's 007 still has that scary edge of
lethal ruthlessness. It's an edge he will never have again as the later
films (and later Bonds) devolve into a family entertainment franchise.
(And trust us, Vin Diesel is not the answer.)
Key Scene: What teenage boy ever forgets his first glimpse of Ursula
Andress emerging from the breakers? Eat your heart out, Halle Berry.
Best Line: "That's a Smith and Wesson. You've had your six."
13. THE KILLER 1989
John Woo's signature film is a bullet ballet of male bonding. Chow Yun-Fat
is a hit man whose code of honor poleaxes tough cop Danny Lee. Critics
unfamiliar with the Chinese tradition of "sworn brotherhood"
say the movie has a gay subtext. Crazy, right?
Key Scene: Lee cauterizes the killer's wound with gunpowder.
Best Line: "The only person who really knows me turns out
to be a cop."
RAGING BULL 1980
Robert De Niro bulks up and lashes out as lowlife fifties antichamp Jake
LaMotta, a jealous brute whose life's work was beating people to a pulp.
Miraculously, Martin Scorsese makes it into an ode to the human spirit.
Joe Pesci, as Jake's brother, makes punk poetry of Paul Schrader's f--k-encrusted
Key Scene: The slo-mo fights, choreographed to the sound of exploding
Best Line: "Did you f--k my wife?"
15. BULLITT 1968
The ultimate Steve McQueen, and a defining moment in guy movie history.
He was the coolest star we ever had, and his minimalist charisma keeps
winning converts with every passing year. A cop story set in San Francisco,
Bullitt isn't driven by the script or the action -- it's just McQueen
being McQueen. Taken as a whole, his career teaches us one fundamental
truth: Real men should talk less and drive more.
Key Scene: The car chase, for sure, a witty trendsetter over SF's
roller-coasting hills, with Steve the racing buff clearly visible behind
the wheel of his 390 Mustang GT.
Best Line: "You work your side of the street and I'll work
16. ENTER THE DRAGON 1973
There were kung fu killers with smoother moves, but no one had Bruce Lee's
enraged magnetism. Before he sealed his legend by dying young, the savagely
graceful actor explained his secret: "I am not acting. I am just
doing my thing."
Key Scene: Battling the steel-clawed Han in an underground hall
Best Line: "Through long years of rigorous training, sacrifice,
denial, pain, we forge our bodies in the fire of our will."
APOCALYPSE NOW 1979
How many people truly admire this Francis Ford Coppola-John Milius collaboration
as a scathing indictment of the debacle in Vietnam? Damn few. The real
reason the film keeps growing in stature is that it's a hallucinatory
head trip, the war film to watch when you are baked and basted.
Key Scene: Helicopters attack to the tune of Wagner's "Ride
of the Valkyries."
Best Line: "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning."
18. GOODFELLAS 1990
Half tragedy, half farce, Martin Scorsese's sadistic gangster classic
is a heartfelt fantasy about joining the ultimate boys club. The best
scenes are the social gatherings at nightclubs and backroom card games
at which the made men savor their precarious status.
Key Scene: The zippy montage sequence depicting the coke-addled
frenzy in which Henry Hill's house of cards finally collapses.
Best Line: "You think I'm funny?"
19. RESERVOIR DOGS 1992
Quentin Tarantino's ferociously black comedy about a botched bank job
that goes horribly, violently bad has outlasted the nitpickers who dismissed
it as a derivative video geek's greatest-hits anthology with attitude.
The borrowed building blocks are much less important than the inspired
embellishments. The peerless ensemble cast (led by Harvey Keitel, Tim
Roth, and Steve Buscemi) make a full-course meal of some of the crudest
(and funniest) tough-guy backchat ever written. Early on, the distributor
suggested removing the horrific ear-cutting scene, but Tarantino balked.
"If violence is part of your palette," he said later, "you
have to be free to go where your heart takes you."
Key Scene: We're all ears.
Best Line: "Mr. Brown? That sounds too much like Mr. Shit."
20. FIGHT CLUB 1999
The crude message -- we prove our manhood by learning how to take a punch
-- works best when Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are recklessly acting it
out rather than simply jawing about it. They almost make you believe it.
Key Scene: The sucking-on-the-gun shot, a truly shocking sight.
Best Line: "First rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about
21. THE USUAL SUSPECTS 1995
Even more than Tarantino's stuff, Chris McQuarrie's Oscar-winning script
for this Rubik's cube of a caper movie is about guys who live to riff
on flavorful tough-guy clichés. Repeated viewings, even once you
know who Keyser Soze is, can't dim the film's layered luster.
Key Scene: The lineup. It's all there if you know what to look
Best Line: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing
the world he didn't exist."
22. BLAZING SADDLES 1974
Every Mel Brooks movie works better on home video than it does in theaters
because (like all the Airplane movies) they're really just anthologies
of hilarious but dumb gags loosely strung together. Saddles, then, is
a classic guy movie by default, because you can drink and talk and even
doze off while watching it and you'll still have a great time.
Key Scene: Beans, beans, the musical fruit.
Best Line: "Excuse me while I whip this out."
THE WILD BUNCH 1969
Outlaws run bloodily amok in war-torn Mexico in 1914, the west's final
frontier. "I was trying to tell a simple story about bad men in changing
times," said director Sam Peckinpah. "The strange thing is that
you feel a great sense of loss when these killers reach the end of the
line." The ultraviolent finale is a balletic mass suicide as William
Holden and his bunch snatch glorious defeat from the jaws of meaningless
Key Scene: The final, orgiastic bloodbath.
Best Line: "If they move, kill 'em."
THE MALTESE FALCON 1941
Few other movies of this vintage have aged as well. With the edge of sadistic
menace that Humphrey Bogart brings to the role of private eye Sam Spade,
and the staccato crispness of director John Huston's pacing, the movie
still feels bracingly modern. Its cynicism stings no matter how many times
you watch it.
Key Scene: Spade's true viciousness emerges in his bullying of
the sniveling Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.).
Best Line: "When you're slapped you'll take it and like it."
25. UNFORGIVEN 1992
There have been plenty of "revisionist" westerns over the years,
but Unforgiven is the last one we'll ever need. Clint Eastwood pulls the
rug out from under every romantic myth of the Old West. His perpetually
disgusted hero is a retired gunfighter who has come to realize that killing
is an ugly, irreversible act.
Key Scene: The messy, bloody gunfight with corrupt lawman Bill
Daggett (Gene Hackman).
Best Line: "Hell of a thing, killing a man. You take away
all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."