Movies That Every Guy Should See At Least Once

These are not necessarily the best movies ever made, so don't think that this is a "best of" type of list. These are simply movies that every guy should see. Not all of them are exciting and very few of them would make a woman's "must see" list. But all of them are worthwhile viewing.

There are a few reasons why a guy should absolutely see a movie. A movie may have artistic value, as in you've never seen anything presented the way a particular movie does. A movie may be the original attempt to capture a particular subject, theme, or plot device and needs to be viewed for its historic or iconic value. A movie may be the best of its kind whether it's B-Movie schlock or A-Movie craft. A movie may be quoted often and you need to know the source of the allusions.

The reason that this is a special list and is not part of the main movie page is because there aren't comments for all of the movies listed here. Also, because this is kind of a "before you die" list, movies that are listed as At Least Once or More than Once may not be included here. This list is more about viewing for appreciation rather watching as a diversion. Some of these movies I have only seen once and that was a long time ago.

A few patterns emerged as I did this. A great director crafts great movies. But you can't blanketly state, "See all of Kurbrick's," (but that wouldn't be a bad idea), so a complete list of his movies had to be distilled down. Similarly, Cronenberg and Lynch could have been more pervasively included. Another item is that the 50s seem to be a wasteland for "art" or even originality in movies. Finally, some actors have more than their share of great films on this list. There's a reason Bogart has more than just one or two of his films listed here. He was great.


Title Reason Brief Overview
Airplane (1980) Quotable Very quotable. "Surely you can't be serious", "A hospital? What is it?", "..wrong week to quit smoking."
Battleship Potemkin (1925) Artistic The only movie on the list that I've never seen. But like Citizen Kane it's on every must see list and it sounds interesting.
The Big Blue (1988) Artistic, Unique Well done story of free diving, based on a real life relationship.
The Big Lebowski (1998) Quotable A sideways detective story with great characters.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) Quotable In life, Jack Burton references seem to crop up all of the time.
The Black Cat (1934) Artistic Impressionistic sets and adult themed motives in a horror story. Lugosi and Karloff!
Blade Runner (1982) Artistic A new way of depicting a bleak future. It's bleak on many levels.
Blue Velvet (1986) Niche The dirty side of squeeky clean America as only David Lynch can do it.
The Boondock Saints (1999) Niche Boondock Saints is a litmus test; if you know it then you pass.
Brazil (1985) Landmark, Niche Very depressing story of a dystopian society. We're there now. Don't watch the Sheinberg Edit, which is shorter and has a more "acceptable" ending.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Landmark A silent film with great impressionistic sets. The first movie with the twist ending used frequently since.
Caddyshack (1980) Quotable Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield steal this one.
Casablanca (1942) Quotable, Artistic, Great Acting Perhaps the best movie ever made.
Chinatown (1974) Landmark, Artistic Proof that film noir, in color even, was not dead in the 70s.
Citizen Kane (1941) Landmark A decent movie that people love to talk about.
Crash (1996) Niche The slow downward spiral of people with an accident fetish.
Citizen X (1995) Artistic, Niche Shows how made for cable movies should be done. Dark subject matter.
A Clockwork Orange (1971) Artistic, Niche If you can't be bad, does that mean that you're good? Sex, drugs, and ultraviolence by Kubrick.
The Devils (1971) Artistic, Niche Ken Russell's surreal excesses as a director perfectly match this true tale of possession at a convent. With Oliver Reed.
Dirty Harry (1971) Landmark The first slick anti-hero cop. Often imitated, never duplicated.
Doctor Strangelove
(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying
and Love the Bomb) (1964)
Landmark, Quotable A well crafted movie with black humor regarding nuclear war.
La Dolce Vita (1960) Artistic, Landmark Fellini trashes short attention span metropolitan attitudes with imagination and flair. In Italian with subtitles.
Duck Soup (1933) Artistic, Landmark The Marx Brothers star in a political lampoon.
Earth Versus the Flying Saucers (1956) Artisitic Ray Harryhausen's stop motion effects at their best.
Escape from New York (1981) Quotable Helped make Kurt Russell a star as Snake Plisken.
Evil Dead II
(Dead by Dawn) (1987)
Quotable, Landmark A B-Movie with lots of style. A great horror and humor mix.
The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933) Niche, Quotable A W.C. Fields short that's pure surrealism from start to finish.
Fight Club (1999) Artistic, Quotable Deep subject, creative effects, "The first rule of fight club is..."
The Godfather (1972) Artistic, Quotable Set the standard for mobster films.
Harvey (1950) Iconic Ever wonder about the nice guy with the six foot tall invisible rabbit? This is that movie. Stagey, so it's kind of slow.
His Girl Friday (1940) Best of Type This is a clinic of rapid fire repartee. The best of the The Front Page films.
The Horror of Dracula (1958) Landmark B-Movie that captured Dracula and kept true to Bram Stoker's vision.
Jacob's Ladder (1990) Artistic If these things happen to you, are you dead, dreaming, drugged, or insane? Innovative and creepy.
Jaws (1975) Landmark, Artistic Well told adventure tale that took off like a triton.
Kelly's Heroes (1970) Quotable This humorous war movie is bit dated and unevenly paced, but the memorable situations give the all star cast fodder for clever lines.
King Kong (1933) Landmark, Artistic The original ape will steal your heart.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Artistic A biography that's sprawling, lavish, and involving.
M (1931) Artistic, Landmark A dark movie in German with subtitles but some of the camera work is years ahead of its time.
The Maltese Falcon (1941) Landmark Film noir is defined and so is the hard boiled detective.
Metropolis (1927) Artistic A silent film with great symbolic imagery. It's a little slow moving.
Naked Lunch (1991) Niche The distilled version of novels written by a homosexual going through heroin withdrawls. You may feel the need to bathe after.
The Night of the Generals (1967) Artistic The excellent cinematography and acting makes this tale of German generals in WWII compelling viewing.
O Lucky Man (1973) Artistic Candide as something like a musical. Very imaginative.
My Blue Heaven (1990) Quotable Flawed but entertaining and a great example of a modern day screwball comedy.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Artistic, Quotable At the tender age of 18, I thought that this was the perfect western.
Phantasm (1979) Landmark Ushered in a new type of horror film.
Play It Again, Sam (1972) Landmark Preceeding the award winning Annie Hall by 5 years this gem has all of the same elements and is presented with more originality.
Raging Bull (1980) Landmark, Artistic The biography of self-destructive fighter Jake LaMotta is spell binding.
Red Zone Cuba (1966)
Niche On many "worst movie" lists, but it's interesting as a train wreck.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) Landmark Possibly Tarantino's best movie. It uses his recap the action afterwards approach.
Slap Shot (1977) Quotable, Niche Paul Newman in the best hockey film ever made.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) Artistic Hollywood approves its own send-up and it's quite acerbic.
Star Wars (1977) Landmark The original release made space opera mainstream.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) Weird Flesh and metal fused into something else. Stop action effects. Japanese with subtitles.
The Thin Man (1934) Landmark The alternative to film noir is rapid fire repartee.
The Third Man (1949) Niche, Artistic Vienna after World War II. Orson Welles as Harry Lime.
This is Spinal Tap (1984) Quotable, Landmark Everyone quotes this movie and it's the first successful mockumentary.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Artistic Bogart goes from quick tempered to gold crazy.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Landmark, Quotable Science fiction came of age in this sophisticated production.
The Wild Bunch (1969) Artistic Very moving western that deals with lives becoming obsolete. It also has a high body count.
Yojimbo (1961) Artistic, Landmark Where would spaghetti westerns be without this as a template? In Japanese with subtitles.

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