The top 10 manly man war films of all time


Originally published at Pushing Rubber Downhill on May 29, 2021. You can purchase Adam’s books here.

There has been a bit of a discussion in this corner of the interwebs about the top 10 war movies of all time, which I stumbled upon via Borepatch. All men love war movies because all men would love nothing better to be at the trigger of a meat chopper dealing out death and destruction to his enemies. Being on the other end is not the greatest experience, but we tend not to consider that when the call goes out to join up.

The Art of Manliness began the discussion with their top 10 list. There is plenty to disagree with there; Patton is a biopic, not a war movie; Apocalypse Now is simply a drug fueled trip that begins well but progressively runs out of steam the further they get up river; Glory is beneath contempt because it is pure fantasy concocted with the same motivations that gave us Roots; Saving Private Ryan is the best ever example of a movie that can be comfortably concluded after the first 20 minutes; The Longest Day is a big budget and big starred bucket of boredom; and 1917 is a gimmick with no substance. Even worse, the list includes only two films that are not WWII related, and only one which does not take place in the 20th century.

Aesop countered with his own list after rudely not linking to that with which he was disagreeing.

Aesop being rude is like soldiers throwing the wrong end of a grenade in a bad war flick. I stopped reading him after he lost all credibility during the great pretend flu hoax. According to him we were all going to die and only his opinion counted because he is a nurse. Frankly, men who work in primarily female occupations should never be trusted.

That he included the blue face painted fantasy Braveheart is beyond belief. But then, maybe he just loves the Freeeeeeeeedom. A Bridge too Far is good as far as a Saturday afternoon beer and pretzel fest goes, but at no point during the film do you feel for the characters. It is epic with no personality. Gettysburg is laughable: the clip of Pickett’s charge that he provides having all the realism of a pile of shoes on display at a war museum. As already mentioned, Patton is a biopic not a war movie. Laurence of Arabia is simply a big pile of faggotry.

So I shall now provide you with my own list of manly man war films. Apart from numero uno, they are in no particular order.

Come and See

A brutal and despairingly realistic view of life behind the lines on the Russian Front. Only watch it if you’re not vaguely suicidal.

Master and Commander

This is a masterpiece of men at war where every man must depend on the other for survival. It also has these things called ships which none of the other lists even thought about.

Cross of Iron

Sam Peckinpah goes full Wehrmacht against the Russians.


Aesop stated that no great war films have been made in the past 20 years. Yeah, about that …

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Carrier pilots in the Korean War and we get to look at Grace Kelly?

The Hunt for Red October

Yes, yes, Das Boot is the best submarine film ever ever evr. I don’t care, this one is awesome sauce. And yes, it’s a war – The Cold War.

War and Peace

You want epic historical war blockbusters? There can be only one.


Based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, this was Akira Kurosawa’s last epic film and wildly acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made. So we have Shakespeare, Kurosawa and war. Hot damn, how did nobody else include this? Shame on you all.

All Quiet on the Western Front

No holds barred in the trenches. Incredible footage for having been filmed almost 100 years ago.

And finally my number one war film of all time. Many of you might think that this is a joke, that I am taking the piss. I am not. When I speak to veterans about war films and this one comes up, they almost universally agree that this film perfectly captures the sheer lunacy of war. And that is why it gets my number one spot.

Kelly’s Heroes