tb Top 10 movies for the sensitive manly man

By Jim Beckerman

McClatchy News Service

Here are the 10 great male weepies of all time.

10. "THE CHAMP" (1931)

The movie: Strong men dissolved into quivering mounds of Jell-O when Wallace Beery, as the crusty, down-and-out boxer Andy "Champ" Purcell, fought one last round to prove to his adoring son Dink (Jackie Cooper) that he still has it. He wins -- and then dies in the locker room while telling the weeping Dink to "smile." Kids in the audience were probably bawling too hard to notice their keening dads. Remade, to little effect, in 1979.


The boo-hoo moment: Beery to Cooper in the locker room: "Keep your chin up, don't cry, come on, give your old man a smile ..."

9. "OF MICE AND MEN" (1939)

The movie: George (Burgess Meredith) is forced to shoot his buddy, the big sweet doofus Lenny (Lon Chaney Jr.), who has accidentally killed a tramp of a rancher's wife (Betty Field). This archetypal male-buddy weepie inspired the later "Midnight Cowboy" and also the die-hard Bugs Bunny tag line: "Which way dud he go, George ... ?" Remade several times.

The boo-hoo moment: Lenny: "Tell me about the rabbits, George." George (pointing a gun at the back of Lenny's head): "Lenny, I want for you to look over across that river ... because I'm gonna tell you like you can really see it ..."


The movie: There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Lou Gehrig, dying from his eponymous disease, delivered his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939. Guys wept all over again when Gary Cooper re-created that moment over the echoing stadium loudspeaker in this biopic.

The boo-hoo moment: "Today-ay-ay, I consider myself-elf-elf, the luckiest man-an-an, on the face of the Earth-erth-erth ..."

7. "SPARTACUS" (1960)


The movie: Roman senator Crassus (Laurence Olivier) agrees to give the rebel gladiators their lives -- in exchange for their leader. Kirk Douglas is about to surrender himself, when one by one his fellow gladiators step forward, each claiming he is Spartacus. It's a great three-hankie moment in male cinema, made all the more touching by the mass-crucifixion that follows.

The boo-hoo moment: "I am Spartacus." "I am Spartacus." "I am Spartacus." "I am Spartacus ..."


The movie: The milieu is creepy-funky New York, but the tender relationship between Joe Buck (Jon Voight), the lovable dumb Texas hustler, and Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), the lowlife creep ("I'm walkin' here!") is pure "Mice and Men." The final moments, with Voight trying to get the dying Ratso to Florida by bus, constitute the most sure-fire death scene since "Romeo and Juliet."

The boo-hoo moment: Ratso: "Here I am, goin' to Florida, my leg hurts, my butt hurts, my chest hurts, and like that ain't enough, I gotta pee all over myself." Joe (tenderly): "You just took a little rest stop that wasn't on the schedule."

5. "THE NATURAL" (1984)

The movie: Over-age slugger Robert Redford, having virtuously rejected a bribe to throw the big game, walks up to the plate, still bleeding from an old internal injury that -- we've been informed -- may kill him. Taking up the bat created just for him by the worshipful batboy, he prepares to hit one out of the field for the son he didn't know he had, who -- he's just been informed by note -- is out in the stands watching him. The mighty Redford swings -- and sends a ball crashing into the stadium lights, where it sets off a Fourth-of-July shower of sparks that bathe him in light as he jogs around the field. As Thelma Ritter remarked in "All About Eve": "What a story -- everything but the bloodhounds nippin' at his rear end."

The boo-hoo moment: Roy Hobbs: (to the batboy) "Pick me out a winner, Bobby."


4. "BRIAN'S SONG" (1971).

The movie: Well, TV movie, actually -- but the loving relationship of football players Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan), shattered by Piccolo's fatal cancer, hit viewers more powerfully than most theatrical films. This one gets extra points for causing guys to cry in a well-lighted living room.

The boo-hoo moment: Gale Sayers: (accepting award) "I'd like to tell you about a guy I know, a friend of mine. His name is Brian Piccolo. And he has the heart of a giant, and that rare form of courage that allows him to kid himself and his opponent, cancer. ... Now you honor me by giving me this award. But I say to you here now Brian Piccolo is the man who deserves the George S. Halas award. It is mine tonight ... and Brian Piccolo's tomorrow!"


The movie: This is a rare example of a chick flick that is also eminently dude-worthy. Women liked to see Debra Winger get her officer, of course. But for guys, the story was about Richard Gere's Zack Mayo becoming a man -- with the memorable help of tough-as-nails sergeant Louis Gossett Jr.: "In this class, there's always one joker who thinks that he's smarter than me. In this class, that happens to be you. Isn't that right, Mayonnaise?"

The boo-hoo moment: Gere sweeps Winger out of the factory, while "Up Where We Belong" blares from the soundtrack and everyone applauds and shouts "Way to go!"


The movie: Spielberg's World War II epic is mostly remembered for its harrowing depiction of the invasion of Normandy. But hidden inside that big movie was an old-fashioned male weepie struggling to get out. Tom Hanks' rescue of Private Ryan, at the expense of his own life, is classic dude-movie stuff -- especially when he tells Ryan (Matt Damon) with his dying breath: "Earn this ..."

The boo-hoo moment: Private Ryan as an old man: "Tell me I have led a good life." Ryan's wife: "What?" Old Ryan: "Tell me I'm a good man." Ryan's wife: "You are."

1. "FIELD OF DREAMS" (1989)

The movie: This is it -- the "Gone With the Wind" of guy flicks. It has everything: sports, a middle-aged guy (Kevin Costner) who gets a second chance, and the father-son reunion to end all father-son reunions. Corny as Karo syrup? You betcha. But if you plan on saying that to any of the big sniffling lugs in the theater -- smile, pardner.

The boo-hoo moment: Kevin Costner playing catch with his father.

What To Read Next
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.
Wanda Patsche, new Farm Camp director, has farmed with her husband near I-90 in southern Minnesota since the 1970s and shares her passion for farming on her blog.