Copyright 2008-2018 by Richard J. Ballard -- All Rights Reserved.
In some ways Films For Men, A Neglected Genre is a Part Two continuation of the My Favorites webpage, listing worthwhile films that bore the ladies (my antidote to Fried Green Tomatoes).
Our family values oriented society shuns men's films as individualistic and too violent. IMO violence is not being rejected; but men's films also often question normal life's societally-accepted motivations (a cynic might say that men tire of being steered) and men's motivational questions weaken family values. I understand society's family values orientation, but IMO that orientation is not the universal solution. Leadership often requires individual decisions; e.g., prioritization decisions in an economic poor environment.
Some of the films listed here contain violence not totally removed from normal life, but most of the films reflect men's motivational questions. IMO men's motivational questions always are worthwhile, and media violence is in the eye of the beholder.
Tense 1968 police drama includes the best automobile chase scene ever filmed; Steve McQueen
drove the Mustang himself. Steve McQueen performed his own motorcycle stunts in the classic
1963 film The Great Escape costarring James Garner and Richard Attenborough; and Steve McQueen
both rode the polo ponies and piloted the glider in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair costarring
Al Pacino stars in this 1973 film about an honest NYPD detective and his at work shunned exile by
corrupt NYPD fellow officers; cameo appearance by former NYPD detective Frank Serpico. The
1997 film Cop Land starring Sylvester Stallone depicts even better organized NYPD corruption.
Burt Reynolds directed and starred in this 1981 film about a detective in love with a corrupt
Congressman's mistress. Brutal interrogation scene featuring Darryl Hickman [brother of
Dwayne Hickman (star of the TV series The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis)].
1972 drama about a master assassin and his brash apprentice.
Jan-Michael Vincent stars in this 1971 film about a Marine recruit who excels at everything
except attitude. The 1989 film Cadence starring Charlie Sheen, Larry Fishburne and
Martin Sheen depicts less tolerance for soldiers resisting military decorum.
This uniquely titled film [Soy Lent Green, IMO a 1973 reference to USA's growing monthly
trade deficit with Japan (and today, also with China)] depicts life in an overcrowded
underfed future society that did not solve the unemployment problem or the Social Security
insolvency problem: check out (of) the urban zoo. The film is strongly written, is well staged
and is well acted, forcing viewers to ponder if its character role models actually could become
commonplace in The Great Recession's wake.
This 1971 film depicts a lone military scientist battling The Family and its epidemic of
crazed violence and destruction.
Director John Huston's 1948 B&W film is a classic tale of hard times and greed.
The men's characterizations are wonderfully detailed, IMO making this film superior
to director John Ford's 1940 B&W hard times classic film The Grapes Of Wrath
starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell and John Carradine.
This 1972 film depicts an astronaut/botanist struggling to save a spaceborne enclosed forest preserve
that urbanized humanity no longer will afford. Wonderful special effects!
This 1972 film depicts the human cost of commercial failure: overqualified and overburdened in
a downsized economy; industrial Death Of A Salesman. IMO the film's ending is overoptimistic
both concerning cash received when you sell your home during a depressed real estate market,
and also concerning the economics of starting a successful small business.
It is the time of The Inquisition. Set in a Benedictine abbey in northern Italy, the remote abbey's
impressive architecture sitting amidst rural poverty reinforces the film's medieval character.
The abbey's monks are sorely troubled by unexplained events that some fear evidence demonic
presence. But the cloistered monks are equally troubled when outsiders, a Franciscan investigator
(Sean Connery) and his novice helper (Christian Slater in his first film role) arrive. And the
cloistered monks positively panic after a second monk's violent death motivates a
Grand Inquisitor's arrival.
This 1986 film depicts an ethical man following his conscience while he seeks the truth under
difficult, perhaps even perilous, circumstances. I am glad this fine film exists. Umberto Eco's
novel (translated from the original Italian) IMO is not readable in English (two attempts).
The film is wonderfully cast with character actors who are physically believable as medieval
monks. Christian Slater plays the investigator's novice helper with optimism and with naive
innocence. And Sean Connery plays an intellectually-inclined investigator who maintains
good humor despite understanding the compromises that cloistered society demands. (BTW,
the film's title is explained shortly before the film's ending.)
Director Mike Nichols' 1971 film is a (IMO emotionally painful) tale of a relationship going full circle.
Perhaps the film's lesson is that men want the goddess up on the pedestal more than they want her
flesh-and-blood incarnation. [Corollary: Did I get what I wanted?]
Director Roger Corman's 1960 film about demanding flowers and unwanted mouths to feed
is Jack Nicholson's screen debut.
Early Nicolas Cage: Life ... didn't turn out like I planned. IMO this 1987 film is the
pessimistic twin to the optimistic, somewhat metaphysical 1984 film The Natural starring
Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Barbara Hershey.
The 1995 film starring Nicolas Cage (1995 Best Actor Oscar winner) and Elisabeth Shue
(1995 Best Actress Oscar nominee) also addresses men's motivations: why does out-of-work
screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) drive to Las Vegas so he literally can drink himself
to death? [IMO desperate bouts of losing gambling are interwoven in the 1995 reality version;
the 21st Century's real estate bubble somewhat has tarnished Las Vegas's glamour.]
Director Stanley Kubrick's classic 1960 film (4 Academy Awards) is a personalized,
not complicated story about men and politicians constantly at war.
This four hour lavish 1939 film (10 Academy Awards including Best Picture) is not
about wartime. Gone With The Wind is a film about women's lives during wartime,
a topic that men seldom ponder until the war is over.
This 1970 film depicts armed defense supercomputers enacting computerized
global martial law for humanity's own good. The (IMO remarkable for its
terrible special effects) 1977 film Demon Seed starring Julie Christie and
Fritz Weaver is the consecutive step on the downward double helix towards
daemon ex machinum.
This epic 1976 story of personal sacrifice and accomplishment established Sylvester Stallone's
career. Brutal boxing fight scenes, yet IMO the most interesting fight occurs between Rocky's
loudmouth pal Paulie (Burt Young) and Paulie's sister Adrian (Talia Shire).
Sylvester Stallone's graphic 1982 depiction of a Vietnam War veteran's reception and his alienated reaction.
This cult classic 1979 film depicts a street gang pow-wow gone horribly wrong. IMO the screenwriter
had Navy shore leave experience: When I hear the ocean I figure I'm home!
Director George Lucas' 1973 film is the high school reality predecessor of National Lampoon's 1978 film
Animal House starring John Belushi and Tim Matheson, but it flaunts the California mystique that most
of us missed. A (still burning in the 21st Century) love affair with the American car; what would be left
if we ran out of affordable petroleum?
This Australian 1982 film depicting society without petroleum established Mel Gibson's career.
Director Richard Donner's 1987 film depicts the tension of police work -- great fight scenes.
IMO the 1996 film Lethal Weapon 3 starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo
and Joe Pesci also is worthwhile: the addition of Internal Affairs officer Lorna Cole
(Rene Russo) investigating Police Department rogue elements dilutes the macho environment
that characterizes the film Lethal Weapon.
Director John Gray's 1996 film stars Steven Seagal and Keenen Ivory Wayans as police detectives
investigating the Russian mafia -- brutal and incendiary action.
Director Ron Howard's 1991 film stars Kurt Russell as a veteran firefighter training his younger brother.
Hellish action; strong supporting performance by Scott Glenn (Cmdr. Alan Shepherd in The Right Stuff).
Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this 1976 Bicentennial film about a former
Confederate soldier whose family and comrades were murdered, and who is hounded
by the same Union renegade commander.
Clint Eastwood's early Western films are loaded with masculine cynical humor. Director
Don Siegel's 1969 film stresses reluctant chivalry and undue advantage, a theme
also reflected in the 1991 film Hudson Hawk starring Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello and
This sword and sorcery 1982 film brought stardom to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thulsa Doom
(James Earl Jones) and his warriors raid young Conan's village, killing Conan's parents and
enslaving Conan's people; Conan regains his freedom as an adult. Conan again encounters
Thulsa Doom (now the leader of a maleficent snake cult) after Thulsa Doom mesmerizes the
king's daughter; the king (Max von Sydow) hires Conan and his thief friends to steal her back.
Lavish settings, superior photography and good bodies; the Collector's Edition DVD adds
scenes not included in the 1982 film's original release.
Arnold Schwarzenegger dominates this 1984 plausible apocalyptic vision. Imagine powerful computer viruses
infect a NASA deep-space probe: I'll be back! IMO it is socially remarkable that the 1st generation Terminator
is a massive male; in the 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Robert Patrick the 2nd generation Terminator is a nondescript male
police officer; and in the 2003 sequel Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, and Kristanna Loken the 3rd generation Terminator is an extremely attractive
In this 1985 film superbly-muscled Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an ex-Army officer whose
daughter is kidnapped. Uncharacteristically brutal fight scene with Vernon Wells (The Toecutter
from Mad Max 2 -- The Road Warrior).
Based upon a novel by Richard Bachman (Stephen King), Arnold Schwarzenegger and
Richard Dawson (Hogan's Heroes, Family Feud) star in this 1987 plausible apocalyptic
vision that exploits the public's taste for televised senseless violence. (FWIW, IMO it is
worthwhile to experience the United States impression that non-English-speaking viewers
receive from the TV series COPS: watch COPS with the TV sound turned off.) Musician
Frank Zappa's son Dweezil Zappa and Fleetwood Mac musician Mick Fleetwood have
rebel roles in The Running Man.
A good (unpublicized) 2000 action film that addresses the social implications of genetic engineering
and losing yourself. Think: We were supposed to have lots of pretty girlfriends after the move.
Dr. Strangelove did not discuss this! The 6th Day shares human optimization themes with the
c1974 Hugo and Nebula award winning Best Novel Of the Year The Forever War by
Joe Haldeman. And IMO the 1996 action film Eraser starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Vanessa Williams, Robert Pastorelli, James Caan and James Coburn has great special effects
but has a significant omission: What motivates a man with no personal life (Federal Witness
Protection Program ace agent John Kruger) to excel?
This 1988 action-packed thriller defined Bruce Willis' career: brutal!
Director Brian De Palma's 1996 sequel to the TV series employs flashy technical wizardry,
but Tom Cruise's stunts steal the show -- uncharacteristically brutal fight scene.
Director Luc Besson's (French) 1991 film graphically POORtrays the ugly side of security
(several coercive steps below You will work for food!). The (United States) 1994 film
Point Of No Return starring Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne, and the (English) 1997
TV series La Femme Nikita starring Peta Wilson both are plot sequels. Also consider
the 1964 film plot for From Russia With Love starring Daniela Bianchi and Sean Connery.
Director Luc Besson's 1994 film graphically POORtrays the life of a master assassin living in
New York City. IMO contrasting The Professional with the 1994 film True Lies starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold is worthwhile.
Director Robert Rodriguez's ballistic 1995 film launched Antonio Banderas' career.
Director Richard Donner's 1995 thriller pits the weary master (Sylvester Stallone)
against the brash upstart (Antonio Banderas).
Director Martin Campbell's 1998 film is a revenge tale featuring the charisma of
Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas.
Director Jeff Kanew's 1986 film stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as two long-time convicts
coping (?) on parole with a very changed world.
Most men's films are heroic. Director Barry Levinson's comedic 1987 film revolves around
obsession with high-riding Cadillacs, male bonding and the daily struggle to survive.
This 2006 film is a worthwhile depiction of the unhealthy competition and resentment that
can occur in an awkward threesome. This threesome definitely is not The Mod Squad.
People say that in the end you regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did;
most people don't get opportunities like this. Based upon Hunter S. Thompson's book, this 2011 film
features great character development, and depicts flawed men struggling against corruption in an
attractive but unfamiliar culture.
This 2011 film graphically depicts an urban bomb / fallout shelter environment. Unexplained intrusion
by powerful raiders raises everybody's violence level beyond paranoia, then growing annoyance with
tedium and with short rations (the divide) supply the missing pieces. The Divide recalls Who is in and
who is out? issues discussed during the 1960s fallout shelter craze. Yet with more than 4.5 million
residential mortgage foreclosure completions since the real estate bubble burst these issues remain valid.
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