My Top Ten Men's Movies of All Time (blog)

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: September 28, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Mercurie
Publication/Article Link:

"Men live in a fantasy world. I know this because I am one, and I actually receive my mail there." (Scott Adams)

From the beginning movies have been somewhat sexualised. Even in the Silent Era, there were those movies that would appeal more to women and those that would appeal more to men. While women would swoon over Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, men would thrill to Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro. And it seems to me that as time has passed, the divide between chick flicks and men's movies have become even greater. After all, just look at the differences between the perennial chick flick Steel Magnolias and that quintessential men's movie The Dirty Dozen.

As a somewhat stereotypical male, I have no love for chick flicks (I have been fortunate in that most of my girlfriends had no taste for them either), but I absolutely love a good men's movie. As to what constitutes a good men's movie, I would say that is the same as what makes movie good: well developed characters, plenty of conflict, an engrossing plot, good direction, and skillful cinematography. Beyond this, a good men's movie requires some other things as well. There must be strong male characters with which the viewer can identify. There should be plenty of thrilling action scenes. And, of course, it helps if there is a healthy dose of ultraviolence.

Given my love for men's movies, I thought it might be a good idea to make up a list of my top ten favourite men's movies of all time. I made the list in alphanumberic order because, with the exception of Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai--my favourite movie of all time), I have difficulty choosing a favourite. Anyhow, here it is, my list of the top ten men's movies of all time.

300: Tales of heroism often make the best men's movies. And one cannot get more heroic than the tale of the Battle of Thermopylae. It was at Thermopylae in 480 BCE that King Leonidas and a force of 300 Spartans faced a an army of literally thousands belonging to the Persian Empire (then ruled by Xerxes I). Knowing that they would ultimately die, King Leonidas and his men hoped that their sacrifice would buy Greece time to gather its forces to fight off the Persian hordes. In doing so, Leonidas and his men changed history.

300 does not stay true to the letter of that historical event, but it captures the spirit of the Battle of Thermopylae perfectly. Shot on a digital backlot, the movie's visuals are astounding. But more importantly, 300 is a nonstop thrill ride of extreme heroism and ultraviolence in the name of freedom. Much of the film is carried by Gerhard Butler as King Leonidas, who delivers lines that might sound over the top in any other film with honesty and conviction. Although just released this year, I suspect 300 will be a favourite of men for years to come.


Escape From New York: In A Clockwork Orange, Alex can be considered nothing but a base criminal, albeit one who is also a victim of society. In The Dirty Dozen, the Dozen (with the exception of Maggot, who never reformed) were criminals who became heroes. The hero of Escape From New York, Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell), is a bit more complex. A decorated United States Army Lieutenant, Plissken eventually turned to a life of crime. His reasons for doing so, however, are more complex than any desire for filthy lucre or even the simple thrill of it all. Plissken apparently felt betrayed by the government Regardless, when the President's plane crashes into New York City (now a maximum security prison), it is to Plissken that the governments turns for help. That they inject microscopic explosives into his neck that will blast a hole in his carotid arteries in 24 hours time demonstrates that the government thinks Plissken has the skill to succeed in his mission, but they don't trust him to be willing to do so. Ultimately, Snake Plissken is not a common criminal such as Alex, nor is he a criminal turned hero such as the various members of the Dirty Dozen. Instead, Snake Plissken has always been a hero, albeit one who is rebelling against a system which he feels has treated him (and others as well) unfairly.

Escape From New York is most definitely a violent action film. In fact, Carpenter had difficulty selling the film until his success with Halloween because Escape From New York was perceived by the studios as too violent and too negative. Like the other films on this list, however, Escape From New York is not a simple action film. Instead it is an examination of the importance of the individual as opposed to that of the collective, as well as the dishonesty sometimes engaged in by governments. Indeed, Escape From New York was largely Carpenter's reaction to the Watergate Scandal!