8 Films With Masculine Virtue

When I ask myself what films in recent years have been my favorites, I find that the answers all seem to have a few things in common.  One, the movie must tell a compelling story; two, it must rise above its genre to make a larger statement about life or some universal idea; and three, it must be technically well made.  All great art—including film—can serve as a vehicle for the presentation of ideas, and the promotion of a certain virtue.  Although the mainstream American film industry has become more and more a sad repository of feminist cant and lowest-common-denominator commercial pandering, the foreign film world has undergone something of a renaissance in the past fifteen years.

The best films of France, Germany, Spain, and the UK are edgier, more intelligent, and more masculine than anything found in the US.  It was not always so.  But the work of great European directors like Jacques Audiard, Gaspar Noe, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Shane Meadows leaves little room for doubt that the true cutting-edge work is being done in Europe.  (Argentina deserves honorable mention here as having an excellent film industry).  The mainstream, corporate-driven US film industry has effectively smothered independent voices under an avalanche of political correctness, girl-power horseshit, chick-flickism, and mind-numbing CGI escapist dreck.

Movies that deal with masculine themes in a compelling way are not easy to come by these days.  Honest explorations of masculine virtues are repressed, marginalized, or trivialized.  One needs to scour the globe to cherry-pick the best here and there, and in some cases you have to go back decades in time.  Luckily, the availability of Netflix and other subscription services has made this task much easier than it used to be.  Access to the best cinema of Europe, South America, and Asia can be a great way for us to catch as glimpse at a foreign culture, as well as reflect on serious ideas.

I want to offer my recommendations on some films that I believe are an important part of the modern masculine experience, in all its wide variety and expression.  Out of the scores of possible choices, I decided to pick the handful of films that are perhaps not as well known to readers.  My opinions will not be shared by all.  I encourage readers to draw up their own lists of films dealing with masculine themes, and hope they will reflect on the reasons behind their choices.  Below are mine, in no particular order.  In italics is a brief plot synopsis, followed by my own comments.

1.  Straw Dogs (1971).

A mild-mannered American academic (Dustin Hoffman) living in rural Cornwall with his beautiful wife becomes the target of harassment by the local toughs.  Things escalate to a sexual assault on his wife, and eventually to a brutal and protracted fight to the death when a local man takes refuge on their property.


Dustin Hoffman reaches his breaking point in “Straw Dogs”

This is a classic example of the type of movie that could never be made today.  Arguably Sam Peckinpah’s most daring film, it contains a controversial rape scene that seems to leave open the question whether Hoffman’s wife (played by Susan George) was a victim or a willing participant.  Faced with his wife’s betrayal, and continuing harassment from local miscreants, Hoffman’s character finds himself completely isolated and must learn to stand his ground and fight.

A chance incident later in the film sets the stage for a blood-soaked confrontation which is as inevitable as it is necessary. Peckinpah presents a compelling case for the cathartic power of violence, and the achievement of masculine identity through man-on-man combat.  It is a theme I find myself strongly drawn to. Controversial, powerful, and unforgettable, Peckinpah proves himself an unapologetic and strident advocate of old-school martial virtue.  We would do well to listen.  His voice is sorely missed today.  (Note:  avoid the pathetic recent remake of this movie).  Honorable mention:  Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) and Bring Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974).

2.  Sorcerer (1977).

A group of international renegades find themselves down and out in Nicaragua, and volunteer for a job transporting unstable dynamite across the country to quell an oil rig fire.

Due to inept marketing when this movie was first released, it never achieved the credit it so fully deserved.  A motley group of international riff-raff (including the always appealing Roy Scheider) seeks redemption through a harrowing trial.  But will they get it?  Is it even desirable to escape one’s dark past?  The answers are complex, and director William Friedkin refuses to supply easy ones.  The characters in this film are doomed, and they know it, but they still hold true to their own code.  Which is itself honorable.  Consequences must be paid for everything we do in life, and often the price comes in a way never expect.  Dark, brooding, and humming with a pulse-pounding electronic score by Tangerine Dream, this film has deservedly become a cult classic.  The ending is a shocker you’ll never see coming.


Roy Scheider undertakes the most perilous journey of his life in William Friedkin’s 1977 masterpiece “Sorcerer”

3.  The Lives of Others (2006).

A coldly efficient Stasi (East German security service) officer (Ulrich Muhe) is enlisted by a Communist party hack in a surveillance program against a supposed subversive writer and his girlfriend.  But monitoring the writer’s life awakens sparks of nascent humanity in the Stasi man, and he eventually must decide whether to follow orders and destroy the writer, or to sacrifice himself to save him. 

This German masterpiece was made with great fidelity to the look and feel of 1980s East Germany, and the results are evident in every frame.  It belongs on any list of the greatest films ever made.  The masculine virtue here is of a different type than viewers may be used to:  it is a quiet, understated heroism, the type of heroism that probably happens every day but is hardly noticed.  There is no bragging here, no chest-beating, no big-mouthed bravado.  (In short, none of the wooden-headed caricatures that pass for masculinity in the US).  The ethic here is about love and self-sacrifice, the noblest and greatest virtues of all.

The ethos of self-sacrifice is now considered old-fashioned and almost a punch-line, but historically it was valued very highly.  It features in nearly all the old literary epics and dramas of Europe and Asia.  Actor Ulrich Muhe pulls off a minor miracle of characterization here with his portrayal of a Stasi man named Weisler, whose special wiretapping assignment against a playwright transforms him from heartless automaton into awe-inspiring hero.  The movie made me wonder just how many quiet, unassuming men there must be out there, whose toil, heroism, and sacrifice has never been, and never will be, acknowledged.  The ending is transcendently beautiful, and moving beyond words.

4.  Homicide  (1991).

A police detective (Joe Mantegna) is assigned to investigate a murder case.  The case awakens in him stirrings of his long-suppressed ethnic identity.  Unfortunately, he will eventually be forced to choose between conflicting loyalties.  And the consequences will be devastating. 

No modern American director has probed the meaning of masculine identity more than David Mamet, and all of his films are meditations on themes related to illusion, reality, masculinity, and struggle.  Homicide, a nearly unknown gem from the early 1990s, is perhaps his profoundest.  Mamet knows that a man must make choices in his life, and for those choices, consequences must be paid.  And very often, we find ourselves derailed by the mental edifices we construct for ourselves.  The Mantegna character is led through a complex and increasingly ambiguous chain of events, only to find that at the heart of one mystery lies an even more inscrutable one.  Beware the things you seek.  You may not like what you find.


Joe Mantegna deals with the fatal consequences of his decisions in David Mamet’s “Homicide” 

5.  A Prophet (2009).

An Algerian Arab is incarcerated in a French jail, and is drawn into the savage world of Corsican gangsters.  Forced to kill or be killed, he is drawn into a pitiless world that recognizes only cunning and brutality.  He finds himself straddling two realities:  the world of his own nationality, and that of the Corsicans.  And to survive and emerge triumphant, he must learn to play all sides against each other.

This film must be counted among the greatest crime dramas ever made.  You simply can’t take your eyes off the screen.  The lesson here is that a man must learn to survive on his wits, and do whatever is necessary to stay alive.  The Corsican boss whom Al Djebena (Tahar Rahim) works for is just about the most malevolent presence in recent screen memory.  Part of France’s continuing internal dialogue about its immigrant population, A Prophet is not to be missed.

Tahar Rahim learns a thing or two about Corsica in “A Prophet”

6.  The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005).

An intense young man (Romain Duris) works for his father as a real estate shark in urban Paris.  His “job” consists of intimidating deadbeat immigrant tenants, vandalizing apartments, and forcibly collecting loans.  He also plays the piano.  Eventually, he is forced to decide which life he wants:  the path laid out by his shady father, or the idealistic path of his own choosing.  He’s seeking redemption, but will he find it?  And at what cost?

Again, we have here the themes of redemption and moral choice.  Romain Duris has a screen presence and intensity that rivals anything done by Pacino in his prime, and some of the scenes here are fantastic.  (His seduction of his friend’s wife, Aure Atika, is one of many great scenes).  All men will be confronted and tested by crises and situations beyond their control.  How they respond to those situations will define who they are as men.  Duris’s character proves that redemption can be achieved, if wanted badly enough.

Romain Duris embodying screen intensity

7.  Red Belt (2008).

Martial arts instructor Mike Terry is forced, against his principles, to consider entering a prize bout.  He is abandoned and betrayed by his wife and friends, and must confront his challenges alone with only his code and his pride.

Another great meditation on masculine virtue and individualism by David Mamet.  In his own unique dialogue style, Mamet showcases his belief that, in the end, all men stand alone.  At the moment of truth, it is you, and only you, who will be staring into the abyss.  Our trials by fire will not come in the time and at the place of our own choosing.  But when they do come, a man must be prepared to hold his ground and fight his corner.  Watch for Brazilian actress Alice Braga in a supporting role here.  We hope to see more of her on American screens in the future.

8.  Fear X  (2003).

A repressed security guard (John Turturro) is searching for answers to who killed his wife.  His strange behavior and ticking time-bomb manner begin to alarm friends and co-workers.  One day he finds some information that may be a lead to solving the mystery.  This discovery sets him on the path to realization. Or does it?

I am a big fan of the films of Nicolas Winding Refn (The Pusher trilogy, and Valhalla Rising), and this one is perhaps his most penetrating examination of a wounded psyche.  It failed commercially when it first appeared, as many viewers were put off by his artistic flourishes and opaque ending.  For me, this film is the deepest study of grief and repressed rage ever committed to film.  All men will be confronted by tragedy, grief, and inexplicable loss during their lives.  How we handle it will define who we are.  The greatness of this film is that it explores Turturro’s claustrophobic, neurotic world in a deeply personal way, and at the same time suggests that he may actually be on to something.  This film covers the same philosophical ground as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, in that it hints at the ultimate ambiguity of all things.


John Turturro confronts the unrelenting darkness of his own psyche in “Fear X”

If you are a Netflix subscriber and watch movies frequently, as I do, you may find it useful to keep a notebook near your television and jot down the titles of movies you see, and a few notes about what you liked or didn’t like.  You’d be surprised how much you can learn from movies.  There are just so many good and bad ones out there that having some system for keeping track of them will be time well spent.

Read More:  The Anti-Male Commercial 

141 thoughts on “8 Films With Masculine Virtue”

  1. Any reason to avoid the new Watch Dogs? I saw (granted I haven’t seen the first) and it seemed good, but not great.
    I would recommend Patton (1970) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as two war epics centered around their titular characters, both of whom are good examples of historical masculinity. Both however are long being almost 3 hours and about 3 and a half hours long respectively (they do have intermissions though).

  2. @Andrew
    Ummm, I’ll say yeah if you want to but, to me, there is always something special about the Original source when concerning certain things….
    Its why the new Freddy Kruger movie bomb with fans, critics, and anybody that has a functionally working brain. It wasn’t the Kruger people grew up with.
    This is why I feel that sequels just kill the original. You have to have respect an leave certain movies ALONE. I still can’t believe they are thinking about remaking “Ferries Bueller’s day off” and “Scarface”. Its made me realize even more that Hollywood gives zero fucks about creatively once those numbers come in from a successful movie…

    1. Wha? Ferris Bueller is quintessentially 80s, I cant imagine that being remade today. Theres a certain innocense to that film that would never feel authentic if they tried to recreate it with and for the “edgy” youth of today. I also cant imagine Scarface being made today for a mainstream audience. Outside of slasher films, I dont think I have ever seen a movie that violent (e.g. Chainsaw scene) in a cinema, they normally go straight to video. Thats got to limit the moneymaking potential of such a film right there. Scarface is also a product of its time, given that the character comes over from Cuba after Castro emptied the prisons – they would have to make significant plot changes to set in in modern times.

    1. Seconded. I read the book back in 6th Grade (have re-read it a dozen times since then) and still list it as one I my favorites.

  3. Great list – “To Live and Die in LA” was another Friedkin film you don’t hear much about anymore that I thought was also underrated. I remember when Heat came out years later it felt like a very similar movie.
    Another father/son film that might fit on a list like this was James Foley’s “At Close Range” with Christopher Walken.

    1. Funny you mention “To Live and Die in LA”. I just saw it last week, after not having seen it in about 10 years. I didn’t really think much of it when I first saw it. But with the perspective of time, I found it very enjoyable. Not Friedkin’s best, of course, (although how can anyone top “The Exorcist” or “French Connection”) but a great period piece from the 1980s.
      I found myself drawn into the 1980s feel of the movie. Music video shots, pastel colors, melodramatic dialogue, the whole works. I’ve always thought William Petersen was an underappreciated actor, and he shines in this role. Worth a watch, to be sure, but it’s nothing compared to the examples cited in my post.

  4. As a film critc, I have to weigh in. This is a list with interesting titles, but only one of them is truly great: The Lives of Others. It is a shame that director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck went on to shoot that terrible Hollywood film with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, The Tourist (2010).
    The film noir tradition has always dealt well with the theme of masculinity. Jean-Pierre Melville, who clearly influenced Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011), and his Hong Kong heir Johnnie To are great recent examples.
    Arthouse cinema can often rise to the level of high culture. To call Aleksandr Sokúrov a filmmaker is an understatement. He is simply the greatest artist of our time and his beautiful 2003 film Father and Son (2003) is an interesting exploration of masculinity among other things.
    Finally, the best new release I watched this year has something to do with masculinity narrowly understood, but its main subject is evil and penance. I am talking about Korean Ki-duk Kim’s deeply disturbing Pietà (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2299842/?ref_=sr_1), one of the greatest films of all time.

    1. It’s a good film… but very far from mass entertainment. I used to rate films like this highly when I was in University, now my tastes have matured and I feel that a truly “good” film has to be entertaining for me to appreciate it. Take a film like, “Lincoln,” I quit after 10 minutes despite it’s production values. Now take a film like, “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” it’s downright shit, and yet I was mildly entertained enough to watch it all the way through.
      I’m sick of critically acclaimed films, give me escapism any day. I won’t bother listing all the films I think are good to validate my argument, that’s all wanker shit, and opinions are worthless anyway (even this), but that’s how I see it.

    2. For film noir, don’t forget “Chinatown” and “Blade Runner.” The latter, apart from the cyberpunk and philosophical elements, is showing masculinity from a more fundamental level: i.e., what is it that truly makes us human?

      1. I am not a big fan of “Blade Runner” – or most anything by Ridley Scott, for that matter, but it clearly has its virtues.
        As for “Chinatown”, I chose not to mention it because it is generally well-known. As far as I am concerned, it is the best film noir of all – even though it was not shot in black-and-white.

    3. Thanks for weighing in, De Oliveira. But I must respectfully dissent from your view that only “Lives of Others” is a great film. I will agree with you that it is the greatest one on my list, and it is perhaps my personal all time favorite. But I firmly believe my other choices are also great films. They tell compelling stories and, just as importantly, express very profound ideas.
      And yes, I am also a big fan of Melville and noir in general. I have also seen “Father and Son”. Great movie. In an article like this, one must make choices as to what to include and leave out, and no one will be fully satisfied with the result.
      As you can see from my list, I selected films that seem to deal with themes of redemption, confrontation of adversity, the power of fate, the necessity of adherence to a code, and the beauty of self-sacrifice. These to me are some key masculine virtues.
      Regrettably, I did not include any films that deal with family life or fatherhood. This is due to my lack of experience on the subject. I am not a father. But I am willing to concede that it is a critical part of the masculine experience.

      1. “In an article like this, one must make choices as to what to include and leave out”.
        I know. My list of films is a less a criticism of yours than a consequence. I believe you wrote a very thoughtful article that gave rise to a lot of discussion. Extremely successful, if you ask me.
        On the other hand, I am really not a fan of Jacques Audiard and see his work as overrated. I reviewed A Prophet in my Brazilian film column a few years ago (http://www.portalbrasil.net/2010/colunas/cinema/junho_16.htm) – praising its brutal realism, but not much else. I also had the feeling that the director enjoys the invasion of Europe by the barbarian hordes.
        “Regrettably, I did not include any films that deal with family life or fatherhood. This is due to my lack of experience on the subject. I am not a father.”
        Neither am I – as far as I know, that is…

      2. Boy is it ever! As a father, I can’t get enough of films that tell stories with father protagonists—especially if they’ve got sons, like I do. If there were a list of movies about fatherhood as a essential axis of the male experience, I’d like to see “The Road” on it. But also “Tree of Life,” “Last Picture Show,” “Affliction,” “Sounder,” “The Mosquito Coast.”

    1. CS:
      Fight Club is one of my very favorites, one of the all time greats. It is a deeply subversive, truly revolutionary movie that even now goes over most people’s heads. David Fincher’s vision of Chuck Palaniuk’s book (which I’ve read) is a wonder to behold. It is truly the vehicle for some serious ideas about society, identity, and anti-consumerism. Its omission from my list is only due to my opinion of what category of film it belongs in. For this list, I had to select films that embodied some element of the masculine experience, or said something deep about male issues.
      Fight Club is a brilliant zeitgeist film, but I don’t see it as a film about a specific masculine virtues. It is more of satire, a polemic. This is not to detract from its greatness. It’s just that I could not include it in my list, for the same reason that I had to leave out a large number of my other all time favorites, like “Platoon”, “Predator”, “Road Warrior”, and dozens of others.

      1. Ah, but that scene on the bus when Brad Pit points to a poster of a CK model and asks Edward Norton, “Is that what a real man looks like?” made me rethink everything. In fact I could write a whole essay on the ways that film influenced who I am today. Should not have been ommitted from the list.

        1. I always found it humorous that a sex symbol like Brad Pitt delivered that line. After all, doesn’t BP conform to the Hollywood ideal of what a man is?

        2. I think that was the point. The Narrator was beginning to see through societal bullshit concerning masculinity, but still conjured up Brad Pitt as his alter-ego. That programming runs deep, man.
          Also, once you know Tyler Durden is really the Narrator’s subconscious, the whole thing with Angel Face gets a lot more interesting. He more or less smashed the pretty boy’s face in because he was attracted to him. Love that fucking move.

        3. For the record, when Narrator realized that he was Durden, that really threw me for a loop. Everything else fell into place from that moment on.

    2. Oh please. Fight Club is like some entry level, totally mainstream “red pill” shit. Good for watching if you’re 16. I mean if you’re REALLY just beginning to open your mind and such things, great. But I much more admire real and raw-to-the-core selections like A Prophet on this guy’s list

      1. fight clubs for tweens trying to force their own bodies into starting puberty faster.

    1. I respect your opinion, but I much prefer Sorcerer. Totally different feel…extremely dark and brooding. To me “Wages of Fear” feels dated and trite. Regarding works of art, reasonable people are always going to differ. Each man brings his own experiences, worldview, and preferences to the table.

      1. Not to go all Andrew Sarris here, but Clouzot’s mise en scene in “Wages” still strikes me as more felicitous and expressive than Firkin’s torpid pacing. And I never felt the desperation of the drivers in “Sorcerer” was as strong as it is in “Wages.” The characters in “Wages” to me felt literally more driven, more like fragile explosives themselves. But to each his own. This is still a great thread, and thank you for getting it going.

  5. Some good masculine American movies I think would be the Rocky series, Taken (first one, haven’t seen the second), and the Patriot.
    You know, this site could use more commentary on works of art and expression. In many ways, they define who we are and how we see the world. That’s actually one of my specialties. I might want to chime in.

    1. I’d agree with the “Rocky” series, but also on the dynamic between Rock and Mickey. I miss the younger man-older mentor theme.
      “The Patriot”? Not so much. Too Hollywoodish and cartoonish for my taste.

      1. i’m surprised not one person has mentioned The Godfather.
        Apollonia would be like the perfect traditionalist woman. Heck even the way Michael proposes via a direct interaction with her father was fantastic.

        1. Who cares about “the perfect traditionalist woman” though? I thought this article was supposed to be about masculine virtues, something which women by design lack. Proof, that no matter what the subject someone always finds ways to insert or force women into the discussion.

        2. Women could actually learn those virtues but first….they’d have to respect and adore men enough to do so. But they don’t. Not really.
          There are women who do see men as worthy of adoration but they are rare. At best, most women will respect a man, but never adore him.
          Because most women find it BENEATH them to declare any man as worthy of such adoration. Because that would be an act of submission, siding with the Patriarchy. Betraying the Sisterhood.
          Which is why we have this whole ungodly mess to clean up now.
          Women today see these masculine virtues as worthless because they consider us worthless. Or at best, kinda sorta alright some of the time.
          You can’t learn from somebody you hold in contempt and/or find kinda sorta alright some of the time.
          So here we are ^_^

        3. Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior; love that film; I’m preparing in my own way; buying lots of Lead, Silver and Gold. The Lead is to protect the Silver and Gold!
          WTSHTF all them bitches will be worshiping the Patriarchy once again as per natural law and all things between the sexes will be right as rain again as God intended, But you’re gonna have to kill some motherfuckers first!
          Proverbs 31
          10 Who can find a virtuous woman?
          for her price is far above rubies.
          Proverbs 5:
          3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an
          honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
          4 but her end is bitter as wormwood,
          sharp as a twoedged sword.
          5 Her feet go down to death;
          her steps take hold on hell.

    2. How about “The Raid” ? No real philosophical aspect to it, but there is about 90 minutes of ceaseless violence.

  6. I think Noir Classics would fit “masculine” description the most. Yes, one would say that femme fatale characters were created to please women in a mostly manly environment of the films, but then again, even they were created as feminine and usually dependent on men to fulfill their goals. However, male leads in 40’s and 50’s noirs are absolute hit. Just seen Out of the Past few days ago, and decided do soak myself in these films for the rest of the summer.
    Maybe it will sound strange, but i found something irresistibly masculine in “No country for old men”. Whether it is the unforgiving Texan environment, typical male business with crime, survival and violence, and wisdom of the elderly characters of the film, I’m not sure. But definitely a film where males are presented as troubled individuals who have to seek fortune on their own, hardships of individualism, etc…

    1. You are so very correct about film noir embodying many elements of the modern male experience. I actually considered making my article about film noir, and may do so in the future. In the end I decided against it because noir is a cynical genre, and I am not sure it really “teaches” us as much as my other choices here. But you are right: classic noir themes play perfectly into the modern ethos of men:
      1. Love will always be betrayed.
      2. Sexual thrills are worth the danger.
      3. Character determines fate.
      4. Alienation from society is inevitable.
      5. A man must face his struggles alone.

      1. “In the end I decided against it because noir is a cynical genre”.
        Cynical – a nice way to describe it, possibly i have heard it somewhere before.
        A thing that also comes to mind is “Crossroads” (1986). A number one motivational film for guitarists. Hey, that film motivated me to pick up guitar, how about that 🙂

    2. There are three very attractive ladies in “Out of the Past”: Jane Greer, Virginia Huston and, especially, Rhonda Fleming. Great picture, beautifully shot! The opening credits set the mood perfectly.

    3. As far as noir classics go, you might like Lonely are the Brave (1962) with Kirk Douglas, assuming you haven’t seen it already. It was a very anti-hero sort of film, with a dark ending. I think the film would appeal to a lot guys here (especially in light of Roosh’s latest post on Freedom), as the movie really captures how hard it is to be a rugged individual in modern day culture.
      Agree with the male leads being stronger back then. Honestly I can’t really think of modern day equivalents to a lot of the actors who used to embody traditional masculine strength (John Wayne, James Stewart, etc.) in American films.

    4. My first dip in the genre starred Fred McMurry. I found him so unconvincing that it put me off film noir altogether.

      1. You must have seen “Double Indemnity”. Yeah, I also felt he was wrong for the part. But don’t let that sour you on noir. The genre is a great one, and there are very many great noir films….

  7. “The best films of France, Germany, Spain, and the UK are edgier, more intelligent, and more masculine than anything found in the US.”
    That’s true but IMO european films are really boring compared to american. The purpose of an american movie is to entertain the viewer while european is to make a point.

    1. Not necessarily truth. When discussing American cinema, one should divide what is generally created by studios for sole purpose of profit, and what is genuinely a great film. Many films do not need a precise point either to be both entertaining and satisfying (for example Blue Velvet of Lynch).

    2. I like Woody Allen’s parody of Italian films in “Everything You Always Wanted About Sex”, and his “paratrooper sperm scene” in the same movie featuring Rosie Greer as the lone black sperm amidst the all-white spermload was also quite funny.

    3. Making a point is a good thing. I love me some fast and the furious, expendables and whatever but there are films that make one start looking another way at things which is worth doing.
      Whats the point in entertaining yourself with a movie when you can go outside and do something?
      There should only be three reasons for watching a movie
      1) With a crew of guys, just for fun [key point being not as a replacement activity]
      2) with a girl, ‘bring the movies’ style. the film should ideally be weepy or something that leads to a bang
      3) something that makes you really think, damn hard.
      From Korea i would say OldBoy or I saw the Devil would meet that.
      A little old but America would be “The count of monte cristo” or “the Godfather” maybe more recently “there will be blood”
      England would be “Bronson” or “The prestige” [trying to think of better ones these are placeholders for the minute]
      Ireland is “hunger” and to a significantly lesser extent “shame”. thing i dont like is they put all that shit at the end which makes no sense
      France is “la haine” quite literally “the hate”
      Germany – Baader meinhof
      Japan: “rashomon” or “seven samurai”
      Films about power, revenge, philosophy and success are all good motivators

  8. i reccommend ‘Mesrine'(2010). its in french, 2parts & over 4 hours long but dont let that stop you. its a stunning film and quite brutal.

      1. I did enjoy ‘Onegin’, guess I’m surprised that a guy would also like a movie about a selfish, empty man who behaves like an ass, kills his friend in a duel because it’s expected and comes to love too late.

        1. Check out Fiennes in “Coriolanus.” You want masculinity writ cosmic, Shakespeare is still the top dog. Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler spend a whole movie snarling at each other in a contest of will and spirit that can only end with one of them dead.

    1. Jesus, yes! Vincent Cassel is unbeLIEVEable.
      I’d also recommend “Carlos.” Edgar Ramirez plays the title character. He’s a revelation.

  9. Certainly kudos for “The Lives of Others.”
    I’d also recommend “The Name of the Rose.” The monk with the dark past trying to walk the straight and narrow, and show his novice the same path, especially when it comes to going after the Truth or going after the girl.

  10. There’s a movie I really enjoy called The Green Mile.
    It may not be overflowing with masculine virtue, but it’s a great tale. It shows the pain that is dealt with, when making an impossible choice. As well as the consequences you have to deal with, once you’ve made your choice.
    Long movie but definitely worth the watch. It’s probably my favorite movie.

    1. Well, anything by Bruce Lee. Except “Game of Death”, which suffered from his untimely demise when they started filming.

        1. Its also not particularly manly either. It doesnt take itself seriously enough. Thats a big part of its overall appeal, but disqualifies it as being considered an example of particular masculine virtue.

        2. A movie doesnt have to be “manly” as long as it shows things in a natural way and without agendas.
          Hollywood movies today have feminist agendas, even the good ones.
          Thats why I ever never see American movies anymore..only the old ones.

        3. No, a movie doesnt have to be “manly” for it to be worth watching. I like Kung Fu Hustle, I bought it on DVD when it was first released. The article above is about movies which demonstrate masculine virtue though, so I was under the impression that you were suggesting Kung Fu Hustle was an example of such.

        4. Still could be, KH is about a man on the path to find himself..that’s the deeper meaning of this movie. Before he does he us useless, after, sky is the limit.
          I think thats a strong message and really applies well to being blue pill before being red pill.

        5. But your right its not particular manly..it opened my eyes though and made me realize what a pile of garbage hollywood has become. Hollywood is nothing else than a propaganda tool. Not really that different from russian moviemaking during communism.

      1. The end of Game of Death (the only bit that has Bruce Lee in it) is pretty good. Fighting the different guys on different levels of the building – Dan Inosanto, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, etc. The fight with Chuck Norris at the end of Way of the Dragon is also good.
        With the excepion of those scenes and the entirety of Enter the Dragon though, (which is incredibly good for a western made martial arts movie from 1973), I dont really care for his movies that much. His other movies seemed very dated when I watched them, and that was more than 15 years ago – cant imagine how they would hold up now.

  11. The Lives of Others” is a great film. Most challenges we men will face in our lives will not be about killing or violence, but about moral decisions in the face of external pressures.
    With a little self-awareness, you’ll learn to recognize these times for decision and identify the losses and gains. The hidden costs to one’s integrity can be the biggest ones and the most obscured at the time.
    The hero in “Lives” offers a great prototype – watch it for insight into your own life.

  12. Zulu, Casablanca, Serpico, Scent of a Woman. All very good films that explore masculine themes.

    1. Master and commander: far side of the world was brilliant. Should have had a sequel

  13. This is a good list.
    Will check my netflix for these. I buy old movies like John Wayne, and Steve McQueen movies. Although they are old, some of my John Wayne movies are from the late forties; they are still incredibly good.
    True art, be it film or oil based, portrays something we must come to grip with even if it is something we hate. I think this is why so many artists, or wannabes, fall into such a dark abyss. The dark is easier in some ways to draw inspiration then the light; because the light is harder as we don’t have as much daily connection with it.
    Also why cops tend to become so corrupt, daily interaction with the worst of society tends to rock their faith in humanity to the ground.
    I appreciate this list!

    1. YES, who can forget such classics which were the highlight of Robin Williams career pre-peter pan.

  14. Not a film about masculine virtue but maybe the funniest film you will ever watch : Laurel and Hardy’s 1932 classic “The Sons of the Desert”.
    Other greats : Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart, maybe best movie fight scene of all time
    12 O’Clock High
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    also overlooked : “Scarecrow” with Gene Hackman and Al Pacino
    and you wouldn’t believe it but the original “Tarzan, The Ape Man” is pretty good
    and “Le Mans” with Steve McQueen
    One time I was dating a younger gal who’s friend was the movie critic for a local alt-rag. She asked me what were my favorite movies and all I could think of were The Three Stooges and Humphrey Bogart.

  15. The one movie if found that describes our situation (especially my own somewhat) is They Live. It so effectively describes the alienation, the elite that uses the planet like they are grasshoppers and we are the field. The control over our minds, the total brainwash that media, finance-industry and nearly every aspect of society produces.
    Braveheart i watch a couple of times per year when i feel down and thinking of today’s state of my country. Great inspiration and Mel Gibson is the number one actor of this time.
    Check out manlymovie.net for tips on manly movies btw, some great tips i have got there, like Hard Target and Extreme Prejudice for example.

    1. They Live. Yes, I remember that one. An underappreciated little gem from the 1980s….I think John Carpenter directed it. Sort of a cult movie now, I think. Roddy McDowell starred…kind of hilarious.

    2. They live. Surprised to hear someone mention it in the context of manly movies, but its definitely an original film, not one you forget. Theres a definite red pill aspect to it (probably what youre referring to Im guessing) and theres some classic lines it it as well. The DVD just happens to be within arms reach of me as I type this, I might give it another watch. (and Yes, John Carpenter was the director Quintus, and “cult movie” definitely describes it)
      Hard target is great too, one of my all time favorite Van Damme movies, from his prime, and directed by John Woo, one of his first western movies after building his name with a bunch of gun-fu Hong Kong actioners. It kind of fits with the theme of some of the other movies mentioned here too, one man standing up for what he believes in against impossible odds.

  16. I have seen a few of the titles that you mention and I look forward to seeing the others but without a doubt one the best movies that displays masculine virtue is a movie called Twilight Samurai. Definitely add this one to your dvd collection.
    Make sure you turn on the subtitles.

  17. If you can ignore the fact it has Tom Cruise, The Last Samurai is a real man’s film about Love, loss and dying for a cause you have come to believe in. Top gun was a decent portrayal of an all-rounded alpha male too. Its a shame that they don’t make character orientated films like this anymore, as modern Hollywood has gone down the ‘mass-adoration-crap’ with regards to film/music, for the most part.

  18. I’m glad to see “The Lives of Others” getting some positive hype. I remember when I first saw it in a German Film class in college, it just really hit home with me for some reason, and is now my favorite movie.
    For those who haven’t seen it, you should. My immediate reaction right after I saw it was seriously that it was one of the best crafted films I’d ever seen, it’s almost a perfect movie, if that exists.
    Bottom-line, see it.

    1. The film inspired me to see more of the former East Germany when I was there, having already seen the Stasimuseum on my first visit in 2007.

    1. Yes, it is. But it is so different from the original that it can be considered a separate, stand-alone movie.
      It had the bad luck to be released right before “Star Wars”, and so was buried under an avalance of Star Wars hype. It passed nearly unnoticed. Which is a real shame.

  19. The only one of these I have seen is The Beat That My Heart Skipped. It’s in my all-time top 5 movies. Glad to see it getting some cred.

  20. You know what I wantot see in a film.. no male shaming, no man hatred and no men dying or being violently abused and a strong masculine role model. This is what makes a perfect film for a male.

  21. I’ve made many women watch Straw Dogs and Taxi Driver over the years. If they don’t respond positively to those films, then they are not welcome in my life.

  22. “Master and Commander” with Russell Crowe.
    And why just recent films? no Kurosawa? Hana-Bi by Takeshi Kitano. Carlitos Way, Mad max 2, The Hunter with Willem Dafoe, The Admiral a Russian film about a real-life super alpha, The star, another russian film about a WW2 suicide mission. House of Sand and Fog, I´m just mentioning the ones on top of my mind.
    And Straw Dogs by Peckinpah is more about a beta that fails to establish his territory/ boundaries, and ends up paying the price.
    The Wild bunch is just an all around bad-ass movie.
    Bit of a poor list if you ask me.

  23. Also, slightly OT, is interesting to notice that directors with a grasp of red pill reality, do better castings, sharp plots, and their themes are more relevant, more fact oriented, more engaged with the world at large, cant put this into words at the moment.
    Whereas beta directors, are lousy at casting, more banal/sentimental with their themes, and of course more pedestalising, and tend to confuse simple insecurity and one-itis, with complexity, existential dilemmas, navel gazing, etc…
    Films that explore full on Hipergamy/red pill/ human sexuality truthfully tend to be very dark, violent and disturbing.
    I find Films by women and/or concerning women, to be repetitive, solipistic, and largely banal, like whatever the director depicts, you´re not going to learn much about the world or people.
    Most films prior 2000- tend to be very expansive in portraying masculinity and the dilemmas and struggles men face, because I think it´s fair to say, masculinity is very expansive, and incredibly diverse.
    Crappy english I know.
    And to finalize, “Come and See ” by Elem Klimov, perhaps tangentially related to the post, but an astonishing film by all standards.

  24. Just to end my tirade: Superbad is a clever satire, with some solid knowledge on red pill stuff.

  25. SIn CIty, the roles played by the protagonists are a good representation of masculinity

  26. The Place Beyond The Pines blew my mind. Not sure how much virtue was on show but it was a great insight into what it is to be a man and the various roles we take on, the enduring legacy of our decisions and so on…

  27. Bonsoir,
    it took me weeks to recover from A prophet , one of the best movies ever , I thought it was a book originally … It’s not about crime or jail but how one can kick off tyranny by mastering knowledge . Malick becomes king ( the meaning of this name in arabioc ) when he knows how to read , write and when he masters Corsican language.
    The work of Jacques Audiard is mainly focused on this idea ..one of our best French director

    1. Bonsoir, Nyx.
      Well, I’m glad someone saw the same thing in “Un Prophet” that I did. Absolutely ground-breaking movie. I love that film, and love all the stuff by Jacques Audiard. I do not know French, and could not call myself a Francophile, but I think the edgiest, grittiest, best directors are French: for me, Audiard and Gaspar Noe. Noe is about as cutting edge as it gets.
      Keep up the good work.

      1. Gaspar Noe! Holy Shit! That guy must be the definition of psychopath. Have you seen I Stand Alone? ….and Irreversible? These are NOT date flicks.

    2. Un Prophet was hands down fantastic. I am pissed as hell they are making a american remake, but if it works out like departed did for infernal affairs it shouldnt be too bad

  28. I thought the lives of other was about not being a stalker and ruining a mans life because he was a heretic.
    You definitely got more out of the movie than I did. Good analysis and all must watch films thanks for your articles they’re always on point for the most part.
    You’re one of the better writers here.

  29. Saving Private Ryan isn’t here so you lose…if you think wounded psyche is more manly than taking out an SS bunker, you need to shave your pubes.

    1. In fact there seem to be no war movies on this thread…wtf?! The non-serving generation methinks (I served).
      Porn and war are the most masculine activities…thus films.
      The Last Samurai over Saving Private Ryan…really?

      1. I did serve.
        I stated at the beginning of the article that I wanted to pick movies that readers may not have been familiar with. So, while I do believe that warfare is a basic human endeavor, I did not want to include “Platoon” or “Army of Shadows”, among many war films I have liked. There were clear reasons for my choices.
        Another reason for not including a war film is that combat for the average man is not a situation he will normally encounter in his life. It is not the type of experience that most men can relate to. I
        f you have read my other articles here at ROK you will see what I mean.
        For the average man, it is far more likely that he will encounter situations like those described in my 8 film choices above: redemption, dealing with loss, dealing with grief and repressed rage, moral choice, and the necessity of sacrifice.

  30. Great list. I never watched Sorcerer, but I watched the original french movie in wich it was based, “The Wages of Fear”, a great movie. Sam Peckinpah was indeed one of the greatest movie directors the USA ever produced.
    Today, although I don’t care about his leftist liberal political beliefs, I like Ed Harris’s movies. “Appaloosa” is a great western and everytime I catch it on TV, I have to watch the full movie. Besides the artistic and narrative qualities of the movie itself, it shows a great example of a man who is an “alpha” among men, but totally “beta” with women, defaulting to white knighting and pedestalizing a woman who actually cheats on him in front of his eyes.

  31. A Prophet is one badass film. Straw Dogs is a nice film to watch for the dynamic of Beta to Alpha transformation that Dustin experiences. Good list.

    1. Just keepin’ ya entertained, cara. See ’em all, when you get the chance. I’ve noticed a commonality in themes in the flicks I’ve chosen: moral choice, the struggle to escape one’s past, the fight for redemption, need for self-sacrifice, and the realization of identity through physical struggle. Wonder what that says about me. Oh well…

  32. I would like to suggest a Spanish film titled “biutiful” it’s about a terminally ill father who took custody of his children from his drug addicted, prostitute, ex wife.and his struggle to save up money, and make preparations take care of his children before he dies. the movie really tears at your heart.

    1. I loved that movie. Javier Bardem is one of his best roles. It’s a deeply moving film. Could hardly control my emotions…but it’s also really depressing, and even for me, that’s saying something.

  33. Jesus! an intelligent movie reviewer on ‘Return Of Kings’? I’m bookmarking and watching all these films. It’s hard to believe you didn’t mention Rocky and the Godfather – and I thank you for that

  34. Now we’re talkin’!
    If you like Sorcerer, I highly recommend H.G. Clouzot’s “The Wages of Fear,” of which “Sorcerer” is an oblique remake.
    And if we’re talking cinemachismo, you’ve got to have at least 2 or 3 Don Siegel movies in there. He was Clint Eastwood’s mentor. I’d also throw in Peter Yates (“Bullitt”) and Friedkin’s “French Connection”. Actually, I’d probably put “French Connection” at the top of any list of movies in which the subtext and drive is cloistered masculinity (a man’s world, with no exits except death or triumph).
    But why rubbish American filmmakers for the industry’s regrettable tendency to chase the money with formula? There are still some superb studies of the male condition being done on the American screen: Scorcese’s “The Departed”; Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” (or “Thin Red Line”); Michael Mann’s superb sequence: “Heat”+”Collateral”+”Miami Vice”; Andrew Dominik’s stark and rueful “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Eastwood’s “Grand Torino”; Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker”; Lee Perry’s dotty, extravagant “The Paperboy,” which rotates its perspective on masculinity through four men turned by their sexual screws.
    And that’s not even touching television, where the very best long-form storytelling and character studies are being done night in and night out.

    1. Those are all good choices, and I have seen them all. My favorite American directors are Michael Mann, David Mamet, William Friedkin, and Scorcese.

  35. Let me add three other movies that you guys may relate to, all starring Jack Nicholson early in his acting career.
    First, “Five Easy Pieces.”
    He’s a classical pianist who has left home to work as a roustabout in Texas. He comes home to see his dying father, with a pregnant waitress girlfriend hanging on, then f#ucks his brother’s fiancee.
    Comedy ensues – just kidding – heavy drama.
    Nicholson also is claimed to have knocked up his co-star during filming.
    Second, “Last Detail.”
    Nicholson plays a Navy lifer who is assigned to transport some dumbass sailor to prison to serve a long, hard sentence. He takes pity on the kid but “does his duty.”
    Third, “The Witches of Eastwick.”
    Based on a John Updike novel, Nicholson plays “Darrel Van Horne” – essentially the Devil hisself who comes to Eastern Connecticut and quickly establishes a harem of three local women. A bit of a chick flick comedy in some ways but sure illustrates female hypergamy.

  36. OK, one more…
    “Virgin Spring” – an early Bergman film, set in Medieval Sweden. A bunch of hobos do the nasty to his sweet, young, blonde daughter. The hero daddy figures this out and does his neighborhood watch thing with a broadsword.

  37. Nice post. “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” is one of my favourite movies. Duris has a screen presence it can break your LCD-TV so be warned. I’ll try to check out some of the other films.

  38. I’ll pander some bullshit first. Yeah, American movies are shallow and Korean cinema has the best revenge action films around and now I stopped watching movies altogether after getting a fair dose of Asian cinema because the spiritual factor is there and it’s incomparable to the US of Gay shit… So, +1 for old world cultures and spiritual masculine identity.
    I doubt looking at Hollywood movies straight out of a warped Jewish mind is anyway to perceive authentic gender archetypes. There was just an article on how masculinity is molded by female approval, in this country, after all.
    My sage advice is to look towards masters, actual masters, not actors.. (Of course, probably can’t easily discern the difference because you’ve been living a lie and think sexual gratification and gaming ROK is some seriously hot shit.)
    Like said in the book of Five Rings: Seek mastery in everything. Seek absolute truths. If anything, seek the highest standard for yourself, kin, and that means race. Yup, I said it. You want some fucking ideals? Go listen to David Duke or someone who is actually standing for something besides the fake social matrix which is playing inside your skulls.. Goyim
    It always comes back to that for me.

  39. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
    The greatest film ever about a man rescuing the manhood of other men?
    Hello? Am I the only one awake here?

  40. A bit late to the party but saw “River of No Return” last night on Netflix.
    Starting Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe as two western pioneers as survivalists being attacked by Indians and badass white guys. Lots of great scenery (besides Monroe in bustiers and jeans). Real gender roles here.
    Only downside is Monroe not being a very good singer but damn she had a great figure and lots of beautiful blonde hair.
    One anti-guy film was “Leaving Las Vegas” – creepy Nicholas Cage as a guy drinking himself to death and befriended by a prostitute.

  41. A recent movie I just saw that raises some interesting questions about masculinity and red pill wisdom is ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ – it’s a sundance-y film with some fairly big name actors that made a moderate amount of money at the box office. To an astute member of the manosphere however, the film is awash in redpill badassery. One of the central characters is a motorcycle stunt rider who gets fucked up while banging chicks across the country until he discovers he has a child. He decides to rob banks and the film goes on from there. Worth a watch.

  42. I barfed at the mention of most of these and the others I read up about. You have a strange taste in movies. Lives of others and Red Belt seem good.

  43. Great one Quintus! I have many films which I watch over and over again. Some since I was a kid, I don’t watch or own a TV but I have over a thousand films. There’s so much to learn from a good film.
    The Good the Bad and the Ugly in fact all three films actually and Once Upon A Time in the West Leone/Morricone great team there, The Sting, Fight Club, Seven Samurai, Ran, Yojimbo, Dersu Uzala, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Great Gatsby 1973 version w/Redford, Blackthorn, Knife in the water, Bullitt, Le Mans Lalo Schifrim’s score is incredible, The Sand Pebble, The Thomas Crown Affair w/Mcqueen; Brosnan’s version isn’t bad either, The Matador, The Tailor of Panama; Brosnan is such a bad ass in this one, The new Lone Ranger movie you’ve got to see it, it’s funny as fuck, 310 to Yuma, Alfie, Mad Max 2, Get the Gringo Mel Gibson hilarious, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto, Legend, The outlaw Josey Wales, Play Misty for me, Scarface hey I’m Cuban got to love it, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Master and Commander the far side of the World. etc, etc….
    This is just my short list, there are way, way too many films to list here …

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