The Greatest Guy Movies
of All-Time


Greatest 'Guy' Movies Of All Time

(chronological, by film title)
Intro | 1960-1965 | 1966-1969 | 1970-1973 | 1974-1976 | 1977-1979 | 1980-1981 | 1982-1983
1984-1987 | 1988-1991 | 1992-1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996-1998 | 1999-2002 | 2003-2009

Greatest Guy Movies of All-Time: Guy movies often featured contests (conflicts or games), hot cars and women, road trips, sexual initiations, male bonding and buddies, profanities and obscenities, and excessive action fight-explosion sequences. The themes and content of these 'guy-movies' from the historical past included lavish doses of brutality, ultra- or cartoonish violence, various vulgarities, competitiveness, races, blunt humor, trite dialogue, and often scenes with naked males and females.

These 'macho' or 'guys' films often appealed mostly to male audiences, due to the emphasis on male camaraderie and the strong depictions of a diverse bunch of male characters including detectives, secret agents, mobsters and crime lords, military officers, western outlaws, sheriffs, patriots and veterans, valiant underdogs, boxers, criminals, tough guys, buddies and partners, adventurers, sports team-members, POWs, cops, bikers and street racers, loners, and many more.

In this day and age, there now exists a widespread cultural identity crisis, creating confusion about genders, lack of singular clarity on what comprises the masculine ideal, fewer bona fide A-list male stars, and murky definitions of malehood and masculinity.

Some of the most common plot points and elements included in these highlighted male-oriented flicks from the past are:

  • sophomoric humor and raunchy or coarse dialogue (sometimes with mean-spirited putdowns, body-related comedy, scatological words, profanities, and obscenities)
  • various bloody, kick-ass, violent fight sequences, with chase and pursuit sequences (with guns, swords, fists, kung-fu martial arts, etc.) - often explosively lethal with high body counts and blood, lots of high-powered guns, weapons
  • scenes of male coming-of-age and female conquest (with accompanying gratuitous nudity and sex)
  • instances of bravery, codes of honor, male bonding, loyalty
  • memorable, quotable lines of dialogue (i.e., "Say hello to my leetle friend!", "I'll be back," "Go ahead, make my day!", "First rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club," "What we got here is a failure to communicate")

Testosterone-boosting guy films sometimes require the male viewer to set aside the sentimentalities of 'chick-flicks' to enjoy the fast-cut, inflated action - often devoid of character development and richly-nuanced dialogue. However, many other 'guy-movies' are films that have been critically-praised and commercially successful.

(l to r: clockwise): Commando, Porky's, The Blues Brothers, Fight Club

Film genres (or sub-genres) most associated with 'guy' movies include action films, crime/gangster films, sports films, war films, and westerns plus an occasional comedy or raunchy teen film, such as Blazing Saddles (1974), Airplane! (1980), Caddyshack (1980), Clerks (1994), Dumb & Dumber (1994), and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), for instance. See below for all examples. Some of the guy films included here are not worthy of much critical praise, but there are many exceptions including Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Godfather films, Apocalypse Now (1979), Goodfellas (1990), The Matrix (1999), Fight Club (1999), etc.

The heroes (or anti-heroes) of these past films, predominantly with male casts and protagonists, were often loners or mavericks, destined to be unapologetic about their behavior. Male stars most often associated with 'guy' films include Paul Newman, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone, among others -- who were often cast in the roles of sports athletes, martial arts experts, secret intelligence agency operatives or spies, policemen, detectives, enforcers, or mobsters/gangsters/criminals. Various directors of 'guy' films often showed up multiple times, such as Quentin Tarantino, Rob Cohen, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer (producer).

Major Types of Guy-Movies
What are the more common types of 'guy films' that most movie-goers would agree upon?
(1) action-related, (2) crime/gangster, (3) sports, (4) war, (5) westerns, (6) erotic dramas/thrillers, and (7) various comedies
Genre Type and Major Examples

Action-Related (often Secret Agent or Martial-Arts):
Every film with: James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, Lethal Weapon's Gibson, Die Hard's Willis, the Terminator's, Predator's and Commando's Schwarzenegger, Cruise's Mission Impossible films, Michael Caine's Harry Palmer, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal, Stallone's Rambo, Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and others, Mel Gibson's Mad Max/Road Warrior films, Robocop, Shaft and Billy Jack films, Deliverance, the Fast and Furious and Bad Boys films, Blade, To Live and Die in L.A., Gone in 60 Seconds, and Hard Boiled. Also, The Bourne Ultimatum, Grindhouse, Casino Royale, Crank, The Bourne Supremacy, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, The Bourne Identity, and The Matrix.

Description: This brand of guy movie has always been fueled by adrenaline rushes, acrobatic combat sequences, fiery crashes, and major explosions - often played as a race against time. With undercover intrigue complicated by double agents or vigilante plotlines peopled by killing machines and villainous bad guys, this type of action flick was also notable for its high-tech gadgetry, sexy cars, and sexier women.

Key Elements: High-tech devices, gadgets, secret missions, fast and expensive cars, adrenaline rushes, fiery crashes and explosions, undercover intrigue, double-agents and traitorous betrayals, bloody violence, acrobatic hand-to-hand combat and kung-fu, feats of strength, amazing set-pieces, vigilantism, killing machines, races against time, villainous bad guys, cyborgs, seductively-named curvaceous females and steamy sex or nude scenes.

The Godfather films, and especially the collection of Martin Scorsese films (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Casino, and The Departed), Point Blank, the Dirty Harry films, Bullitt, The French Connection, Shaft, Scarface, Reservoir Dogs, Charles Bronson's vigilante films, The Exterminator, The Untouchables, Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Leon/The Professional, Se7en, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Fight Club, Ronin, Training Day, Point Break, Sin City, Ocean's Eleven films, Crank, and Snatch.

Description: Although primarily associated with the Mafia, the crime pic could also address activities like drug dealing, heists, cover-ups, gambling, white-collar corruption, and the art of the con. Any tales of retribution often culminated in ugly violence while the rise-and-fall stories were likely to incorporate vendettas, executions, and sometimes even bloodbaths.

Key Elements: Organized crime, mobsters, ugly violence/retribution, drug dealing, gambling, heists and capers, cons and scams, rise and fall stories, tough guys, hired hit men-killers, corruption, cover-ups, double-crosses, crime investigations, bloodbaths, vendettas, whacking and executions.

The Longest Yard, North Dallas Forty, Semi-Tough, Remember the Titans, Any Given Sunday, The Replacements, and Friday Night Lights (football), Slap Shot (hockey), Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural and Major League (baseball), the Rocky films and Raging Bull (boxing), Rollerball (roller-blading), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) (NASCAR), and Hoosiers (basketball).

Description: Arguably the least violent of guy-movie subgenres, outside of the comedy, sports movies often dealt with true-life athletes and always involved male-bonding, friendship, competition, training, coaching, the joy of victory, and the agony of defeat. Other signature elements included drinking, carousing, sex, underdogs overcoming amazing odds, and the nature of obsessive quests.

Key Elements: Violence in the sports arena or stadium, sparring rivals, (often) true life athletes, male bonding and friendship, competitiveness, training and coaching, drinking/carousing, sex, will-power to win, reconciliation, the triumph of down-on-their-luck underdogs against amazing odds, obsessive quests and downfalls.

From Here to Eternity, The Great Escape, The Big Red One, The Dirty Dozen, Patton, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, 300, American Sniper.

Description: Once a celebration of patriotism, the war film has evolved to encompass sociopolitical critiques of honor, self-sacrifice, male-bonding, survival, and war as entertainment and propaganda. Escape films and boot-camp-training films also fit within this category, but, no matter whether the film was pro or con, generally speaking war was always hell.

Key Elements: Fighting for one's country, devotion and honor, self-sacrifice, male bonding, survival, war as entertainment, propaganda, espionage, POWs, escape films, boot camp training and preparations for combat, war is hell.

Red River, Sergio Leone's 'spaghetti'-westerns, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Professionals, John Wayne (Stagecoach, The Searchers, True Grit) and Clint Eastwood (High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven), John Ford westerns, The Wild Bunch, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Description: Always on the verge of obsolescence, this quintessentially American genre took place on the gritty frontier of the Wild West, with rugged heroes and bandits wrestling with notions of right, wrong, justice, and revenge, often with a six-shooter, a horse, and a saloon nearby.

Key Elements: The gritty frontier of the Wild West, rugged heroes and bandits, saloons, horses, Native-Americans and social injustices, outlaws and bad guys in black, righting wrongs and revenge, male bondings, lawmen/sheriffs, gunfights and shoot-outs.

Some Erotic Dramas/Thrillers:
Showgirls, sex, lies, and videotape, American Gigolo, The Dreamers, Eyes Wide Shut, Crash, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, Crimes of Passion, Secretary, Basic Instinct, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Indecent Proposal, Sex and Lucia, Nine and 1/2 Weeks, Bitter Moon, Lolita, Henry & June, Fatal Attraction, Sea of Love, Body Heat, Sirens, Bound, The Hot Spot, The Last Seduction, Summer Lovers, In the Cut, The Lover, the Emmanuelle films, Color of Night, Two Moon Junction, 9 Songs, Boxing Helena, Wild Orchid, Wild Things, Twentynine Palms

Description: With its roots in film-noir, erotic dramas (and/or thrillers) often linked together violence and sex, with characters including seductive and conniving femmes fatales and violent conflicted men, but also examined the tangled web of human relationships, sometimes trashy and often quite passionate.

Key Elements: Forbidden love, prostitutes, infidelity, kinky sex, dangerous attraction, self-discovery, voyeurism, love triangles, sexual awakening and coming-of-age, romantic betrayal, femmes fatales, self-destructive romance, infatuation, obsession, lust, star-crossed lovers, first love, masochism.

Various Comedies (often R-rated with Crass, Vulgar, Gross-Out Elements):
Pink Flamingos, Blazing Saddles, National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Stripes, Diner, Porky's, 48 Hrs., Fletch, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bachelor Party, Police Academy and Naked Gun films, Beverly Hills Cop films, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, innumerable teen sex comedies, Monty Python films, Dazed and Confused, Clerks, Dumb & Dumber, Swingers, all the National Lampoon and American Pie films, The Big Lebowski, There's Something About Mary, Office Space, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Borat, SuperBad, Knocked Up, Old School, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, The Big Lebowski.

Description: Whether it was a coming-of-age story or a simple bromance, the guy comedy was often typified by lowbrow potty humor (toilet gags, intestinal problems) and high-stakes risks taken to lose one’s virginity. Jokes revolved around sex, romantic pursuits, growing pains, partying, trash talk, embarrassing predicaments, and gratuitous sex.

Key Elements: Coming-of-age and rites of passage, low-brow body humor (toilet-gags, gastronomical problems), losing one's virginity, romantic pursuit, growing up pains, multiple partners, partying, friendship issues, flirtatious behaviors, trashy subjects, bedroom farces, situational comedy, teen sex, embarrassing predicaments, male bonding, romantic triangles, sexual identity and gays/lesbians, gratuitous sex and nudity.

See also other lists of 'guy' movies that have been compiled by Maxim Magazine (100 Greatest Guy Movies Ever Made) and by Men's Journal (50 Best Guy Movies of All Time), as well as this site's Memorable and Great 'Chick' Flicks.

Greatest 'Guy' Movies Of All Time
(chronological, by film title)
Intro | 1960-1965 | 1966-1969 | 1970-1973 | 1974-1976 | 1977-1979 | 1980-1981 | 1982-1983
1984-1987 | 1988-1991 | 1992-1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996-1998 | 1999-2002 | 2003-2009

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