50 Best Guy Movies
of All-Time
(in two parts)

Part 2

by Men's Journal

50 Best Guy Movies of All-Time: Men's Journal selected The 50 Best Guy Movies of All-Time in their December 2003 issue, written by David Chute & Mark Horowitz. See Filmsite's own Greatest 'Guy' Movies of All-Time (illustrated) for contrast, and Memorable and Great 'Chick' Flicks. Another list of 100 Greatest Guy Movies Ever Made, compiled by Maxim Magazine, is also excerpted on this site.

50 Best Guy Movies Of All-Time
(part 2, ranked)

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?"

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 criss-crosses 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 (ferret) 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 shower scene.
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."

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."

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!"

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."

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 mud-wrestling.
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 ya."

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."

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."

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 escape."

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 snore.
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."

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 without permits.
Best Line: "All right, Popeye's here!"

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 care."

46. 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."

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."

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."

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."

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