I know what you hard-living, single, macho kinda guys like me are thinking, "Hey, Gordon, I want to impress some potential significant other with a movie, but don't want to rely on something that Oprah might like. Do you have any manly movies that the ladies/potential boyfriends/partner might enjoy?"
(Yes, I know everyone who reads this blog is not necessarily heterosexual - if I'm being politically incorrect, please leave a comment. Also, I will gladly date any woman who has these movies in her collection).
First, since the Thanksgiving weekend usually means football, our first manly movie is Brian's Song. (The 1971 version, not the crappy Disney remake). Originally a made-for-television movie (in the dark ages before cable), this is the true story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who played for the Chicago Bears. Of course, this was during a time when race relations were not at their greatest. In a little under an hour and a half, this movie contains more thoughtfulness, heart, and intellect than in your average Julia Roberts movie. Plus, it stars James Cann and Billy Dee Williams - I mean, come on, Sonny Corleone and Lando Calrissian in the same movie? What guy wouldn't see it! And yes, this is a tearjerker, but it's a tearjerker done with smarts, intelligence, humor, and football.
The other manly movie for manly men, which I've discussed before, is The Whole Wide World. If it were just the story of a schoolteacher's relationship with a pulp writer, it wouldn't be a manly movie. (Having Renee Zellwinger as the female lead does earn it some women-friendly points) It does earn manly points for having that pulp writer be Robert E Howard, who created Conan the Barbarian. However, there are two words that make this movie a real manly movie:
His portray of Robert E Howard is nothing short of brilliant - a key scene in a cornfield, where Howard spins one of his "yarns" for Novalyne Price, shows off D'Onfrio's chops. Moving from sensitivity to madness, from intensity to full-out rage, D'Onofrio gives Howard a kind of weight that a lesser actor might not have. If this were his only other movie (than Full Metal Jacket), D'Onofrio would still be impressive. In my opinion, the man could act out the phone book and I'd pay money to see it.
Like Brian's Song, this is something of a tearjerker, but both movies work in a way opposite Hollywood's current efforts. Rather than manipulate your emotions, these films allow you to care for the characters, so that when tragedy strikes, the shock is legitimate, and there are no easy answers. These are both well-made, heartfelt films and deserve a place on your video shelf.
And if you're a man and don't cry during these movies, you're either dead or a cold-hearted misanthrope.