March 23, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

What books and movies have helped you define what it means to be a man?

Answers to this question do not state that 'being a man' is bullsh*t. When I am done, I want to say "Being a man is awesome!". I want to read about climbing mountains, wrestling bears, and fighting ninjas........on the way home from the bar. I want read about tackling fatherhood, self-doubt, mid-life crises, and having prostate cancer. If you have ever read 'Wind, Sand and Stars', or watched Peter Fonda in Twelve Angry Men, you know what I am talking about. If Netflix or Amazon had a category for this question it would be called 'Kick-Ass Dudes who don't need to kick your ass'.

I realize that women are awesome too, but for the most part, I want things told from or towards the male perspective. Please do not turn this question into anything more than it is: I am a guy who wants to watch and read about awesome men, doing awesome stuff, which will in turn inspire me to be a little bit more of an awesome father, husband and colleague.
posted by jasondigitized to Human Relations (100 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
Everything by Jack London.
posted by Aquaman at 11:43 AM on March 23, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird should inspire anyone to be an awesome father and person.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:43 AM on March 23, 2010 [19 favorites]

Cool Hand Luke
posted by bensherman at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, Rounders
posted by bensherman at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2010

Finding Nemo.
posted by Scoo at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" novels, notably Early Autumn.
posted by bac at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Louis L'Amour novels. Also Iron John by Robert Bly.
posted by RussHy at 11:48 AM on March 23, 2010

Anything by Ernest Hemingway, but look what happened to him.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Montaigne's Essays
Plutarch's Lives
Patrick O'Brians Aubrey-Maturin series
Rudyard Kipling (as selected by Somerset Maugham)

More when I can sneak out of the office and look at the bookshelves.
posted by jquinby at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2010

John Ford's greatest film, The Searchers, comes to mind here.
posted by koeselitz at 11:53 AM on March 23, 2010


Marcus Aurelius, Stoic

The hero in Gattaca. That scene where he's doing situp-like exercises, hanging from his legs, with a massive astronomical navigation text as added weight. Self-Overcoming.

Nietzsche, what he said, not what he did.

Neil Armstrong.

Cool Hand Luke.
posted by phrontist at 11:53 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I take advice from "The Alphabet of Manliness", by Maddox.
posted by jpcooper at 11:56 AM on March 23, 2010

Watching Cliff Huxtable every Thursday night as a child probably influenced my parenting more than anything else.

Sorry, dad.
posted by milarepa at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

There is little bear fighting, but there is much in Richard Russo's novels about being a man. And struggling to become a better one.

IMO true manhood is found in the struggle, in the pursuit of potential. And less in the kick-assery too often sold to us as the epitome of masculinity.
posted by nickjadlowe at 11:58 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ma Vie en Rose. Because it's ok NOT to follow the masculine stereotype, too--and that is probably more brave than fighting bears and ninjas and whatnot, really.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:59 AM on March 23, 2010 [7 favorites]

Also, you should read Dashiell Hammett. Specifically his greatest novel, The Glass Key.
posted by koeselitz at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010

The Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell
also: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, for its portrait of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
posted by jquinby at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think I answer this to too many questions.
The Fools Progress - Ed Abbey
Ed (or his thinly veiled biographical hero) is not always the best role model, but I feel I am a better man for having read this as a young man. Also, Abbey is very much a man's man, a flawed man's man, but a man's man all the same.

I like that last sentence.
posted by Seamus at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010

The HBO Series Rome (the different approaches to ass-kicking/manhood illustrated by basically all the male characters but especially in the contrast between the main characters Lucius Vorenus and his buddy Titus Pullo)

ps I love Wind, Sand and Stars too!
posted by amethysts at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010

Gates of Fire, hands down. Although some parts are a bit harsh.
posted by _cave at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm a lady; yes, I'm overexcited; yes, you should watch this incredible film.
posted by sallybrown at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2010

Back to the Future trilogy
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2010

Snarky answer: Snow Crash

"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."

Non-snarky answer:

Up, To Kill a Mockingbird, Firefly.

Yes Firefly, the TV show. Many other movies, books and shows have had similar moments, but I really like the way that this particular program dealt with it; loyalty to the team/ family. The main character has an, at times, borderline hostile relationship with other members of the crew, but his actions always come from a place of doing whatever possible to make sure they are safe. When asked why, he responds "You're part of my team, why are we still talking about this?" as if he can't comprehend an alternative.

That kind of fierce loyalty to those I care about or am responsible for really resonates with me (and has since I was a kid) and driven me into the direction of the man I want to be.

See also, The Outlaw Josey Wales for another example of this sort of thing.
posted by quin at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

Ooh, I know a really good "man" movie: Akira Kurosawa's awesome Derzu Usala. Wilderness tracking, hunting, survival, and the soul of an outsider; great stuff in that movie. My dad slipped me a copy of Derzu Usala during a visit home just after I got divorced; he told to me confidentially, "I think you'll like this, though your mom didn't much. I think it's really a 'guy' movie... but honestly it made me tear up a bit." It did not disappoint, let me tell you.
posted by koeselitz at 12:15 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by any major dude at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, books and movies... are songs allowed? My favorite "man" song is "Lola" by the Kinks. A beautiful paean to manliness, that. "I'm not the world's most masculine man, but I know what I am, and I'm glad I'm a man..."
posted by koeselitz at 12:21 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think masculinity is awesome and I applaud you celebrating your own. Having said that, I think a real man, ie: a man who is secure and confident in himself, is open to questioning what masculinity is too, and creating a definition of masculinity for himself that is expansive rather than narrow: hence I agree that your manhood studies would only be enhanced by including a broad range of perspectives on what manhood and masculinity are. Some ideas that come to mind: Refusing to Be a Man, Stone Butch Blues, Goodbye to All That and Anal Pleasure and Health.

In a more straight-ahead vein, Roberto Bolaño, Philip Roth, Hemingway, Lawrence Block and Homer are some manly novelists I've been reading lately.

My personal masculinity role model is Werner Herzog. I think a week long Herzog film festival, especially one that featured documentaries about him like Burden of Dreams, would up your testosterone level immeasurably.
posted by serazin at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

+1 for 'Cool Hand Luke'. Semi-obscure, but an interesting coming of age movie for me was 'The Stunt Man'. And I'll always have a place in my heart for 'The Omega Man'. Yeah, he was an asshole, but he was a man, and he did the right thing in the end.

Books... Robert Heinlein's work has probably had as big an influence on me as anything. There's that famous list of his floating around (I think from 'Time Enough for Love') about what a man should be able to do, burned into my subconcious (somehow I never measure up, tho).
posted by Bron at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rocky IV
posted by alextprice at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Tender Bar- During the week I was reading this on my commute, at least four men came up to me to say how great it was, and how much it meant to them. It's not so much about "awesomeness" (although there is some of that), rather, it's about what it is to be a man in today's society. Great book.
posted by kimdog at 12:32 PM on March 23, 2010

little bit more of an awesome father

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
, by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. About being a man, and raising sons.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:33 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

"The Big Country," with Gregory Peck. He plays a ship captain who's sailed the world, but gives it up to try ranching out in the old West. He's way more worldly and experienced than any of the ranch hands, but despite their prodding (and harassment) he refuses to ever say so. Great character, great movie.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:36 PM on March 23, 2010

Nthing Cool Hand Luke and the Aubrey/Maturin books.

I'd add The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the essays of H.L. Mencken to this list.

And, of course, every Sean Connery James Bond movie. Not because Bond is a great masculine role model, but because all men, deep down, want to be martini-swilling secret agents with cool-as-fuck toys.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:44 PM on March 23, 2010

"Is that a man?"

"Yeah, you're damn right it is"

The Right Stuff.
posted by IanMorr at 12:48 PM on March 23, 2010


Joyeux Noel

Grand Illusion
posted by IndigoJones at 12:49 PM on March 23, 2010

"A Man for All Seasons". I'm not sure if I'm thinking of the play or the film--the scene is definitely in the play but I'm not sure it survived into the film (I don't have access to either at present). The scene I'm thinking of is where Thomas More is facing a charge of treason for refusing to go along with King Henry VIII's plan for a divorce and More is talking to the Duke of Norfolk. The Duke says, in effect, we've all agreed and won't you come along with us "for fellowship". More says "And when, on the day of judgement, you are sent to heaven for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come to hell with me then, for fellowship?" Great play--i read it in high school 40+ years ago. That wasn't the only bit that stuck. There's also the scene (again perhaps not in the film) where Richard Rich (the lay-figure of the "coming man") says he would cut down every law in England to get to the devil. More says, "and then, when the devil turned on you where would you hide, the laws all being flat? No man could stand in the winds that would blow then.". Dirty Harry, please copy.
posted by Logophiliac at 12:51 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

The Amazing Spider-Man comics, say from #150-300, taught me to Do the Right Thing, have a moral code and stick to it, care for others, strive for your best and live your life simply.

Neil Armstrong.

I'd say Michael Collins too, who circled above while Armstrong and Aldrin made history and never once complained about "being left behind" and still considered himself lucky. Note that he was he was moved around in the rotation, which prevented him from walking on the moon later, yet he never complained and made the most of his experiences. Read his book.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on March 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

Castiglione's _The Courtier_ and hey, if you are doing Paul Newman films then my friends, Slapshot is my pick.

But really, the influences are many.
posted by jadepearl at 12:55 PM on March 23, 2010

The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham - one of my very favourite novels, and a great male role model as a main character.

The Great Escape - you can't really go wrong with Steve McQueen.

And, this might seem kind of weird, but Heat. My dad suggested this one to me, and it was awesome. I like Al Pacino's character because, while far from perfect, he's trying to do the best he can, and to do the right thing.

I'm a lady, by the way, and I think this is a great question.
posted by Ouisch at 12:55 PM on March 23, 2010

Fretkillr is an awesome singer and guitarist whose performances just drip with confident, relaxed masculinity.
posted by tomcooke at 1:02 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kipling yes - but specifically "If".
Cool Hand Luke - but also The Shawshank Redemption, The Great Escape, Papillon.
posted by rongorongo at 1:06 PM on March 23, 2010

Harsh Times, Training Day
posted by bravowhiskey at 1:14 PM on March 23, 2010

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Should be required reading for all dads for Father's Day.
posted by jaimev at 1:17 PM on March 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

It made my day to see Edward Abbey's "A Fools Progress" posted by Seamus.
So thats a x2.
posted by jade east at 1:21 PM on March 23, 2010

The Power of One (the book, not the movie, bleh).
To Kill A Mockingbird.
Winter Light.
A Man For All Seasons.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

G. K. Chesterton's politics were often retrograde, to say the least, but his writings also contain a good deal of wisdom, especially for those of us who are more like Flambeau and/or Father Brown than we are bear-killin' ninja warriors.

The Weather Man was a highly underrated film about a neurotic man who learns to be both himself and better than himself. Surprisingly dour and mature by Hollywood standards, but it's a very good movie with a curious sort of wisdom.

This movies works especially well when paired with another underrated, strangely excellent Nic Cage movie: Lord of War. This movie is a perfect portrait of someone who is a complete and total failure at being a person, even though he has many "manly" qualities.

Breakfast on Pluto not only concerns a man who is not masculine, but also a man whose strength comes from moral purity, stubbornness, empathy, and bravery of a different sort.\

Maybe it's just me, but I very much appreciated Frost/Nixon in how it showed Frost's development from a flighty manchild to someone who could, and did, get out of his comfort zone, negotiate failure, tackle a challenge and ultimaetly make a difference.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:23 PM on March 23, 2010

Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative
Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint
Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
posted by saladin at 1:26 PM on March 23, 2010

The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. There is bear fighting involved. Awesome.
posted by yawper at 1:37 PM on March 23, 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2010

A bit lightweight, but if you fancy giving your brain a bit of a rest try Tim Lott's White City Blue - it's a great coming-of-age book, as is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 1:43 PM on March 23, 2010

Colin Wilson's The Outsider
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:01 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Big Lebowski.

I'm serious!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:09 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hunter Thompson

Am I doing it right?
posted by cmoj at 2:13 PM on March 23, 2010

Tim Burtons Big Fish always makes me feel like a man while bawling my eyes out for the last 10 min.
posted by Uncle at 2:16 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any of Jim Harrison's books before Dalva: Wolf, A Good Day to Die, Farmer, Legends of the Fall, Warlock, Sundog.
posted by nicwolff at 2:18 PM on March 23, 2010

I'm having a hard time thinking of any books or movies that truly shaped my mental image of being a man; I took most of my cues from my dad and my grandfathers. But it does somewhat follow that fictional characters who sometimes remind me of dad/grandpas tend to resonate with me: Pretty much anything Fred McMurray was in (except when he played a bad guy), the dad from The Wonder Years, The Old Man in A Christmas Story.

In terms of real-life experience, I've met an incredible number of "Men's men" since joining the Masons a couple of years ago. People will roll their eyes and make cracks about guys needing an excuse for getting away from their wives, but if you find a good lodge it really is like stumbling upon a last bastion of unironic, unapologetic gentlemanliness in an increasingly coarse society.
posted by usonian at 2:19 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

On the centennial of Kurosawa's birth, I can recommend High and Low.
posted by ambient2 at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2010

Nth-ing Aurelius.

Also: James Gould Cozzens' novel Guard of Honor and James Garner in the film Murphy's Romance.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:22 PM on March 23, 2010

It's not fiction, but an interesting read nonetheless, John Birmingham's "How To Be A Man".

Teach you everything from how to impress a lady, to how to land a jumbo in an emergency.
posted by robotot at 2:24 PM on March 23, 2010

Film: good night and good luck
book: the religion by tim willocks (?) -tanhauser's character is brilliant
posted by 92_elements at 3:43 PM on March 23, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
posted by sallybrown at 3:53 PM on March 23, 2010

The Big Sleep, both the book and the movie. Philip Marlowe is the manliest man in literature, for my money - confident, assured, completely in control of himself and so incredibly cool at the same time without being a jerk. Throughout the book he gets into a number of potentially deadly situations, and in practically all of them he wins out without the use of force, just by being awesome and doing what's right. Having him played by Bogart in the film, a manly man himself, just makes it even better.
posted by ZsigE at 4:19 PM on March 23, 2010

Les Misérables (the book). Jean Valjean is the five-star definition of manliness.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:20 PM on March 23, 2010

The Yearling by Rawlings. It's written mostly from the perspective of a boy growing up in a pioneer family in the Florida scrub, but the story is all about learning what it means to be a man.

It's a brilliant book and I won't say any more about it except that there are plenty of encounters with wildlife in it for you, including bears!
posted by keep it under cover at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2010

The "John Smith" episode of the This American Life TV show did a pretty good job of this in my opinion.
posted by owls at 4:36 PM on March 23, 2010

Seconding The Right Stuff.

Adding The Things They Carried.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:46 PM on March 23, 2010

Illusions By Richard Bach was the book that taught me how to be a man in this world. In fact it was the book that first connected me and my father when we were mere strangers other wise. It really started our relationship because of how much it impacted his youth and mine.
posted by elationfoundation at 4:54 PM on March 23, 2010

Thirding The Road:

You wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?
posted by Scoo at 4:59 PM on March 23, 2010

re: surviving prostate cancer: After Surviving Cancer, a Focus on True Manhood, a short essay by Dana Jennings (nytimes link).

"True intimacy isn't about the hydraulics of the flesh."
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

All That Heaven Allows (it's a film).
posted by ambulatorybird at 5:32 PM on March 23, 2010

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski.
posted by alms at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey About Richard Proenneke.
posted by leetheflea at 6:09 PM on March 23, 2010

Hiroshima by John Hersey. I was going to join the army - ROTC - until I read this book and decided I didn't want to be a part of any organization that did that. I'm not convinced now that I made the right choice, but I did.
posted by mearls at 6:44 PM on March 23, 2010

That last one might be a bit deep.

Jaguars Ripped My Flesh is awesome.
posted by mearls at 6:54 PM on March 23, 2010

Glengarry Glen Ross shows the tragic side of the "awesome man" thing.
posted by meadowlark lime at 6:56 PM on March 23, 2010

The Once and Future King by T. H. White, books 3 and 4 particularly. It's got jousting and questing, which maybe qualifies for the ninja fighting stuff. Really, though, the internal conflicts of Lancelot and the Arthur-Guenevere-Lancelot triangle are quite well written I think.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:05 PM on March 23, 2010

Iron John by Robert Bly
posted by honey-barbara at 8:07 PM on March 23, 2010

Won't take much of your time, but this sums it up for me and probably most guys with two lugs between his legs...
posted by bkeene12 at 8:16 PM on March 23, 2010

Seven Samurai

Young Men and Fire (nonfiction by Norman MacLean, about wilderness firefighters in the early 20th c.)

read about Shackleton and the Endurance expedition. (there are also documentaries)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:39 PM on March 23, 2010

Great question. The answers have been good, but they've barely trimmed the stubble.

A collection of stories about manly men of the hunt -- tough SOBs who killed man-eating lions with a knife, or walked a dozen miles for help after being gored by a rhino -- is Death in Silent Places by Peter H. Capstick.

Another outdoorsy book, more folksy / less rock 'em-sock 'em, is Robert Roark's classic The Old Man and the Boy.

Maybe check out The Thin Red Line (book or film) by James Jones.
posted by slab_lizard at 9:20 PM on March 23, 2010

Friday Night Lights easily has the best contemporary male characters of any tv show of the last 20 years. Easily.

Philip Roth's The Dying Animal is pretty fuckin' perfect, too.
posted by dobbs at 9:22 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Steinbeck's East of Eden. There are a few passages where he wanders away from the story and meditates on human nature, changes happening in the modern world, good and evil, and how to live a worthwhile life. I've read them so many times I think I have them memorized.
posted by sapere aude at 12:04 AM on March 24, 2010

One more answer: the television series Doctor Who. All eras. One of the greatest explorations of mature humanity and what manly responsibility means that I know of anywhere.
posted by koeselitz at 1:24 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Big Fish

Derfel and, to a lesser extent, Arthur in The Warlord Chronicles.
I ran to their side. Dian was cradled tight in her mother’s arms, and I dropped my sword, tore the helmet from my head and fell to my knees beside them.

‘Dian?’ I whispered, ‘my love?’

I saw the soul flicker in her eyes. She saw me - she did see me - and she saw her mother before she died. She looked at us for an instant and then her young soul flew away as soft as a wing in darkness and with as little fuss as a candle flame blown out by a wisp of wind. Her throat had been cut as Lavaine leapt for his brother’s arm, and now her small heart just gave up the struggle. But she did see me first. I know she did. She saw me, then she died, and I put my arms around her and around her mother and I cried like a child.

For my little lovely Dian, I wept.

[...] My arms were soaked in blood, my rage could have filled the whole world and still it would not bring little Dian back.

I wanted more men to kill, but the enemy’s wounded had already had their throats cut and so, with no more revenge to take and bloody as I was, I walked to my terrified daughters and held them in my arms. I could not stop crying; nor could they. I held them as though my life depended on theirs, and then I carried them to where Ceinwyn still cradled Dian’s corpse. I gently unfolded Ceinwyn’s arms and placed them about her living children, then I took Dian’s little body and carried it to the burning storehouse.

Merlin came with me. He touched his staff on Dian’s forehead, then nodded to me. It was time, he was saying, to let Dian’s soul cross the bridge of swords, but first I kissed her, then I laid her body down and used my knife to cut away a thick strand of her golden hair that I placed carefully in my pouch. That done, I raised her up, kissed her one last time and threw her corpse into the flames. Her hair and her little white dress flared bright.
posted by rodgerd at 2:14 AM on March 24, 2010

Response by poster: Awesome answers everyone. Thank you so much!
posted by jasondigitized at 5:03 AM on March 24, 2010

Ah, almost forgot: take a peek at The Art of Manliness, a decent blog that covers this very subject.
posted by jquinby at 6:17 AM on March 24, 2010

American Psycho (both the novel and the film, but in different ways) and Taxi Driver are both great examples of how and how badly you can fuck acting on ideas of masculinity, which make them useful as cautionary tales.

While outdated and almost absurdly sexist at points, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels (Farewell, My Lovely, The Big Sleep, &c) have a lot of truth in them about keeping one's cool in tough situations and taking punches - physical and metaphorical - and going on anyway. The Big Lebowski's Dude, who in his own way is a capital-M Man, is pretty much Philip Marlowe in a different time and place.

All three main characters (Bell, Llewelyn, Chiguhr) in No Country For Old Men are a good example as well. While they're incredibly flawed and not an example as whole, complete humans beings, they all have very positive, masculine features. Actually, if you can respect flaws and what it means to be a man where you are (as opposed to where you should or want to be,) Boogie Nights' Dirk Diggler and There Will be Blood's Daniel Plainview have strong, shining, masculine qualities.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2010

Literary/cinematic manhood examples for me:

James McKay from The Big Country
Nthing Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird
John Wayne from The Cowboys and The Shootist
I'll go with Cliff Huxtable too.
Clint Eastwood's character in Gran Torino
Morgan Freeman in .... just about everything
Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything
Ben Wade from 3:10 to Yuma
Larry Darrell from The Razor's Edge
St. Joseph from, well, The Bible
Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid
Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu
Jet Li's nameless charachter in Hero
Woodrow F. Call from Lonesome Dove
Mac Sledge from Tender Mercies
The poetry of Wendell Berry
Alton Brown from Good Eats is one of my all around heroes
Bill Nye The Science Guy
Phineas from Phineas and Ferb
posted by cross_impact at 10:22 AM on March 24, 2010

I thought Hatchet and The River by Gary Paulsen had interesting things to say about that whole "oh shit, I'm the adult here" moment.

Most of the male characters from Deadwood are interesting studies in manliness.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:19 AM on March 24, 2010

A River Runs Through It
Field of Dreams
the Gospels

also Nthing to Kill a Mockingbird and The Road
posted by jpdoane at 12:31 PM on March 24, 2010

A couple of books about reaching manhood for some reason: Stephen King's "Stand By Me" - maybe as the the movie - and Robert McCammon's"Boy's Life".

If you want to add to Shackleton on the cold weather exploration stakes then: The Worst Journey in the World about Scott's expedition and "Fatal Passage" about John Rae - discoverer of the North West Passage are both great.
posted by rongorongo at 2:28 PM on March 24, 2010

Schuyler's Monster is a blog by a dad raising a daughter with a rare brain disorder. He also has a book. Excellent stuff.

From today's post (about his father's recent death):
I could write so much about my father, but I don't think I'm even going to try today. I'll simply say that I'm not sure that I miss him exactly, but I miss having the feeling and the possibility that there might be a day in the future where he and I could figure things out, and I might know for certain, in a way that I absolutely don't know now and maybe never have known in my life, whether or not my father loved me.

If I only get one thing right with Schuyler, it will be that she will never have to wonder such a thing.
posted by heatherann at 6:59 AM on March 25, 2010

Mad Men (flaws and all)
posted by citywolf at 8:33 AM on March 25, 2010

I'm late to this, but I love ee cummings' My%20Father%20Moved%20Through%20Dooms%20of%20Love">My Father Moved Through Dooms of Love. This is my favorite part:

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow.

posted by zoomorphic at 10:57 AM on March 25, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter S was a man's man.

A Fistful of Dollars. Clint Eastwood in his heyday.

Payback, or maybe Die Hard. Bruce Willis probably wins over Mel Gibson in popularity, but the gist is there.

Dances With Wolves. One man alone on the frontier? Win.

And I'm stunned the thread got this far without someone saying Fight Club or Indiana Jones.
posted by talldean at 8:22 PM on March 26, 2010

Bukowski's Post Office.
Golding's To the Ends of the Earth trilogy.
Michel Rabagliatti's Paul series.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:14 PM on March 27, 2010

I rather enjoyed Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs. He had a lot of great stories about his childhood and about the raising of his own children.
posted by sciencemandan at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2010

Mitchell Zuckoff's biography of Robert Altman is pretty great.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on March 28, 2010

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