26. THE SEVEN SAMURAI 1954
The most influential action film of all time was made in Japan by Akira
Kurosawa almost 50 years ago -- yet the western remake, The Magnificent
Seven, is still more familiar here than the indelible original. A
band of outcast warriors (including Toshiro Mifune) defends a peasant
village against a gang of bandits.
Key Scene: The battle in the rain, the most electrifying action
sequence ever filmed.
Best Line: "The farmers have won, not us."
27. DINER 1982
Screenwriter Barry Levinson made his directorial debut with this autobiographical
comedy set in Baltimore in 1959, and it's one of the smartest films ever
made about guys growing up together. It's a male bonding film that doesn't
simply glorify arrested adolescence, it recognizes the necessity of wising
up and moving on. The film's great cast of future notables includes Kevin
Bacon, Paul Reiser, and Mickey Rourke -- as a hipster in his own mind,
the role he's been playing ever since in real life.
Key Scene: The football quiz.
Best Line: "You gonna finish that?"
28. THE BIG LEBOWSKI 1998
This cult comedy -- about getting in touch with your inner slacker --
is revered as a quasi-religious text by fans. Jeff Bridges is sublime
as the Dude, a laid-back stoner who crisscrosses L.A. in search of bowling
partners, nihilists, a kidnapped nympho, and a new rug. Not the Coen brothers'
best film, but their best guy film.
Key Scene: Nihilists attack the Dude by throwing a live marmot
into his bathtub.
Best Line: "That rug really tied the room together."
29. SHAFT 1971
As in so many private-eye stories the plot (what there is of it) is much
less important than the grotty urban settings and the detective's pugnacious
swagger. Richard Roundtree's John Shaft is an iconic presence in black
leather, more than cool enough to deserve Isaac Hayes's Oscar-winning
theme song, which kerchunks along relentlessly on the soundtrack.
Key Scene: Every sequence featuring Moses Gunn as Bumpy Jonas,
the gravel-voiced Harlem gang lord.
Best Line: "Don't let your mouth get your ass in trouble."
30. 48 HRS 1982
Walter Hill's two-fisted action comedy set the pattern for all the facetious
odd-couple buddy pictures of the past two decades. But we never held that
against it. Nick Nolte's growly, grizzled, burned-out cop next to Eddie
Murphy's preening slickster in his mothballed suit (he's a con on a two-day
"work release" to help catch his former partner) are vivid characters
who strike flinty sparks off each other. We're still keeping our fingers
crossed for a director's cut DVD that restores Annette O'Toole's snipped
Key Scene: Murphy takes over a redneck bar (and the movie) armed
with only an empty gun and some major attitude.
Best Line: "I'm your worst f--kin' nightmare, man: a nigger
with a badge."
THE SEARCHERS 1956
John Ford's masterpiece draws a bead on a key theme of the western: the
gunfighter as necessary evil. John Wayne shows his true greatness here,
a greatness that critics are just learning to appreciate. Fans like Martin
Scorsese and George Lucas (who echoes Ford in Star
Wars) were drawn to Wayne's character as much for his bitter dark
side as for his laconic manliness -- traits, the film suggests, that may
be inextricably linked.
Key Scene: Wayne shoots the eyes out of a corpse; this Indian will
go sightless to the happy hunting ground.
Best Line: "That'll be the day."
32. PLATOON 1986
The Vietnam era's All Quiet on the Western Front captures the bone-deep
hopelessness of being on the front lines of a lost cause. Oliver Stone's
Oscar winner is sometimes overblown and self-important, but the emotional
center is where it's always been in great war pictures: in the life-and-death
bonds forged between individuals under fire.
Key Scene: Torching a village to the Adagio for Strings.
Best Line: "We've been kicking other peoples' asses for so
long I figure it's time we got ours kicked."
33. ANIMAL HOUSE 1978
This smash-hit, pig-out, anarchy-loving comedy didn't so much reverse
the post-sixties antifraternity trend as take it to the next level, focusing
on a guerrilla enclave of losers and geeks who trash the system from within.
It's either the first flatulent trumpet blast of the spring break generation
or a profound look back at the essence of sixties politics. Either way,
it's still the funniest college flick ever.
Key Scene: John Belushi kisses off phony folk singers once and
for all by smashing one's guitar.
Best Line: "I'm a zit!"
34. THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY 1966
Sergio Leone cooks up the ultimate spaghetti western, so tickled by its
own sun-baked amorality that we have to laugh. Clint Eastwood, Lee Van
Cleef, and a cackling Eli Wallach inventively double-cross each other
for a chest of Confederate gold. Rent or buy only the restored director's
cut DVD, which reinstates the film's narrative sweep.
Key Scene: The three men's final showdown in the cemetery: the
definitive Mexican standoff.
Best Line: "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
35. THE LONGEST YARD 1974
The best football-in-prison movie ever. Bone-crushing game sequences play
as slapstick, and Burt Reynolds is perfect as the disgraced former pro
quarterback, jailed for a point-shaving scandal and redeemed by leading
a squad of convicts against a team of brutal guards.
Key Scene: Burt's "Gipper" speech.
Best Line: "You could've robbed banks, sold dope, stole your
grandmother's pension check, and none of us would have minded. But shaving
points off a football game? Man, that's un-American."
36. BLADE 1998
In a steel-cage death match between Blade and Wolverine, the smart money
would be on Wesley the Vampire Slayer, the half-undead guy with the silver
sword. This gothic gorefest is still the best attempt yet to duplicate
the flamboyant dynamism of hard-action comic book mayhem on the big screen.
Mr. Snipes always strikes the perfect heroic pose.
Key Scene: The grisly vampire nightclub episode.
Best Line: "Crosses and water don't do dick, so forget what
you saw in the movies."
37. STRIPES 1981
What a relief! Shrugging off the antimilitary guilt of the post-Vietnam
era, goof-off turned enlisted man Bill Murray tells sarcastic slackers
it's cool to kick ass and wave the flag again. Along with Meatballs
this may be Murray's most irresistible comedy. Plus, it's got John Candy
Key Scene: Costar Harold Ramis teaching his ESL class to sing "Da
Doo Run Run."
Best Line: "Any of you guys call me Francis, and I'll kill
38. NORTH DALLAS FORTY 1979
One of the toughest, funniest movies ever made about the big business
of pro sports, with a surprisingly moving subplot about friendship and
betrayal. Nick Nolte is a broken-down hulk of a wide receiver, bent and
twisted by injuries, who continues in spite of the blinding pain.
Key Scene: Two players are goaded into a racially charged fistfight
to get their blood up for a big game.
Best Line: "I love your legs. They got your feet at one end
and your pussy at the other."
39. THE UNTOUCHABLES 1987
Hollywood's version of the guy trifecta -- Sean Connery, Robert De Niro,
and Kevin Costner -- join forces in Prohibition-era Chicago to retell
the story of lawman Elliot Ness and mobster Al Capone. Another tough guy,
Chicagoan David Mamet, wrote the script, and his dialogue crackles and
pops like a tommy gun.
Key Scene: The train station shootout, with a baby carriage right
out of Battleship Potemkin.
Best Line: "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one
of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the
Chicago way. And that's how you get Capone."
40. THE GREAT ESCAPE 1963
This true tale of Allied POWs outfoxing their German captors offers the
irreplaceable pleasure of watching some top actors (James Garner, Charles
Bronson, James Coburn, and above all Steve McQueen) exhibit unflappable
coolness under pressure. The no-sweat heroism practiced here by gallant
Brits and laconic Yanks is a refreshing alternative to the head-banging
bluster of contemporary action films.
Key Scene: McQueen in solitary, bouncing that baseball.
Best Line: "It is the sworn duty of all officers to try to
41. THE THREE STOOGES
Stooge-o-philia came out of the closet when Mel Gibson adopted their trademark
gestures in Lethal Weapon. Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is another key
aficionado. These men know something that many nonfans (and all women)
do not: The dumber and more violent it gets, the funnier it is. Stooge
fans can now rejoice that practically the entire oeuvre is out on DVD.
Key Scene: The Stooges fast asleep, collaborating on a syncopated
Best Line: "I'd knock your brains out if you had any!"
42. THE HUSTLER 1961
Hot-wired young pool shark Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) cares so much
about playing the game with dash and flair that he sets himself up for
defeat at the hands of a cool, calculating bottom-liner: Jackie Gleason
as the mythical monster Minnesota Fats, a sort of pool-hall killer whale.
Fast Eddie would be dismissed as a sap and a loser in any modern big-studio
story meeting, but it's still a lovely dream: a celebration of the kind
of high-minded code of values that hardly anybody lives by anymore.
Key Scene: Eddie pouring out his heart to girlfriend Piper Laurie;
it's Paul Newman's "I coulda been a contender" speech, as intense
as Brando's but less mannered.
Best Line: "Even if you beat me, I'm still the best."
43. SLAP SHOT 1977
The perfect movie for those of us who watch hockey only for the fights.
The misfits in a bush league team finally start winning only when they
knuckle down and start playing dirty. The cynicism never seems to rub
off on Paul Newman, who, as the team's coach, manages to remain sympathetic
even when he's instituting a bonus system that rewards acts of violence
on a sliding scale.
Key Scene: Michael Ontkean's on-ice strip tease.
Best Line: "I may be bald, but at least I'm not chickenshit."
44. THE FRENCH CONNECTION 1971
Famous for its great car-against-train chase sequence, this fact-based
police procedural used the hero's viciousness to jack up the suspense.
You're never sure when narcotics detective Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman)
is going to pistol whip a suspect or drop a casual racial slur.
Key Scene: The chase was essentially improvised, executed pedal-to-the-metal
Best Line: "All right, Popeye's here!"
45. OFFICE SPACE 1999
Seething with frustration at his life in fluorescent-lit cubicles, a sarcastic
smart guy has himself hypnotized into a state of blissed-out recklessness.
The only live-action feature by Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and
Butt-head, this is the sort of movie that in its dialog and even in
its tone and editing sums up the attitudes of way too many office workers.
Guys who love it fantasize about tying their boss to a chair and forcing
him to watch it.
Key Scene: Making copies.
Best Line: "It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't
EASY RIDER 1969
With this low-budget road movie Peter Fonda and first-time director and
costar Dennis Hopper shrewdly smuggled their brand of hippie hedonism
into the pop mainstream. Hollywood was never the same. The film pioneered
the use of wall-to-wall rock hits on its soundtrack and features a breakout
performance by a B-movie veteran named Jack Nicholson, who took a small
role as a boozy Southern lawyer and ran with it.
Key Scene: Nicholson's first joint, around the campfire.
Best Line: "We blew it."
47. DAZED AND CONFUSED 1993
For a generation of guys who graduated from suburban high schools in the
late eighties and nineties, Richard Linklater's pot-smoking, muscle car-driving
teen saga is a cultural touchstone. Matthew McConaughey, as an aging loser
who can't let go of his glory days, steals the show.
Key Scene: Ben Affleck's bully gets his comeuppance.
Best Line: "That's what I like about these high school girls.
I keep getting older; they stay the same age."
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 1957
Who can forget the column of whistling British POWs marching off to build
that bridge? Or Alec Guinness's startled expression when he realizes that
the Allied commandos, led by William Holden, want to blow it up? Director
David Lean structured this war epic like a suspense picture: The stiff-upper-lipped
POWs help the Japanese construct a strategically crucial bridge, while
the commando team creeps through the jungle on a mission to destroy it.
Key Scene: Holden blows the bridge.
Best Line: "The fact is, what we're doing could be construed
as -- forgive me, sir -- collaboration with the enemy."
49. COOL HAND LUKE 1967
A raunchy, violent, crudely humorous melodrama in which a colorful assortment
of grinning redneck thugs are brutalized in a Southern prison camp. Paul
Newman heads a memorable cast of sweat-stained freakazoids: George Kennedy,
Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, Joe Don Baker. In the sixties some
viewers saw the camp as a savage metaphor for a corrupt, repressive society.
What were they smoking?
Key Scene: Eating those eggs.
Best Line: "What we got here is a failure to communicate."
50. FLETCH 1985
Chevy Chase's smirky contempt for everything decent is a welcome tonic
here. While investigating a murder he makes fools of an endless series
of unsuspecting jerks. He also bags the foxy Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, whose
hyphenated name is still mentioned in hushed and reverent tones wherever
video geeks congregate.
Key Scene: Mattress police.
Best Line: "If you shoot me you're liable to lose a lot of
those humanitarian awards."