Movies for Boys Who Would Be Men

Part One:  Curriculum 101 – Eleven Good Ones

Recently, after seeing trailers for the post-modern re-boot of The Lone Ranger, I had to reflect on my personal experience with the 1930s radio origins of that classic American myth.

More than a few followers of LETs Blog responded, not all on this blog site (more on that later*), but all voiced strong opinions about the moral and intellectual sludge that passes for quality entertainment in this Age of Corruption. (If you think I’m just a grouchy old man, you’re only half right; I was also a grouchy young man.)

As I visited with these cultural compadres I recalled a list of movies I’d cobbled together a few years ago for my very young grandsons (who ignored it). They are older now, but the list has remained largely intact (and still ignored). A few titles have been removed, because they were redundant or didn’t age well. Others have been added or shifted about, because I’m smarter than I was.

These are not what I call “Bambi” movies. (No offence to baby deer lovers, but you get my meaning.) They represent the types of stories that informed my understanding of virtues which define a civilized person. These films feature no zombies, no vampires, no robots.

There is also no P.C. And no B.S.

Because reality is harsh for many youngsters in any era, the messages that resonate with them are not dry sermons or syrupy treacle. The images and ideas that stick in the mind are rooted in ages-old experience of risk, failure, loss, cruelty, and sometimes victory in spite of it all. But none of it comes without a price.

This article offers only a partial list for beginners. I call it Curriculum 101. It is for boys at least 12-14, depending upon their ability to sit still. For perspective and without reservation, though, be assured that each of these gems will deliver satisfaction for men and women of any age. As they have for me. And still do.

Now… Ready projection! Lights out please… And… ROLL ‘em!

LET’s Curriculum 101 (age12+)

1. The Shootist; (Manliness, pain, boy/man conflict. John Wayne)

2. Twelve O’Clock High (Valor in real wartime. Gregory Peck)

3. The Cowboys (Under stress, boys become men. John Wayne)

4. Chariots of Fire (Moral conviction, perseverance, Olympics.)

5. Rudy (boy’s perseverance, collegiate football.)

6. Red Badge of Courage (Cowardice, heroism, Civil War. Audie Murphy)

7. Black Beauty (Heroism – boy and valiant horse)

8. Jeremiah Johnson (Mountain men, 19th century. Robert Redford)

9. Field Of Dreams (Baseball fantasy, father/son. Kevin Costner)

10. Bad Day at Black Rock (Loner battles bad men. Spencer Tracy)

11. Wind and the Lion (Powerful adventure. East vs West. Sean Connery)


This is just a taste. Any suggestions? I’m open. *Speak up – talk to each other!







All the movies on this list are available on DVD, for purchase or for rent.

  1. Amazon
  2. Turner Classic Movies
  3. Blockbuster
  4. Netflix

5 comments to Movies for Boys Who Would Be Men

  1. Joan Lottner says:

    Oh my gosh, “Ready projection, lights out please” immediately brought me back to 5th grade watching movies using a pull down screen and projector…..I think I just dated myself a bit :) Many of the movies you listed I am not familiar with. There are a few though that I strongly agree with and they are: Chariots of Fire (saw movie), Rudy (saw movie), Black Beauty (saw movie and read book)and Field of Dreams (saw movie).

    I have a suggestion but possibly for older kids. Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner). I felt it showed how complex adult life can be and how your convictions can change over time. He starts out daring and dutiful believing native americans to be the enemy. Then he meets them, gets to know them and realizes all he has been taught is not true about all tribes. Definitely for the older kids though. They can cut out the part with Costner’s bare bottom.

    Another suggestion. Secondhand Lions, 2003, starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment and Kyra Sedgwick. To me it sent a strong message of no matter how unlovable you think you are, you’re wrong and to not “judge a book by its cover”. Its a slow moving movie but I’d watch it again any day, very heartwarming.

  2. L. E. Taylor says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Great picks! In a couple of weeks I’ll be posting a partial list for Curriculum 201. That’s all I’ll say for now. LET

  3. John Dayton says:

    1959 brought “On the Beach” and with it the first anti-nukes film. At the time we initially did not see it as a protest and then later it sunk deep into our skulls. soon the Beatles hit the shores and the society shifted, never to return to the years of the greatest generation.

  4. Judith Berry says:

    All of the movies Larry has listed are some of my favorites too. The one I hold most dear is: The Quiet Man with John Wayne. Perhaps it’s because my grandmother on my dad’s side was from Ireland. I don’t know. I do have a tendency to like all British and Irish movies. I am lover of Turner Classic Movies and I can name almost all the actors has far back as the 30s. I never watched TV that much until the last 5 years, but now I can’t wait until the evening to wind down my day stitching and watching TCM.

    There is a lot to be learned by watching old movies. Today’s movies are just too violent for me, plus nothing is sacred anymore. Too much vulgar sex, IMO.

    And that’s all I have to say. ~smile~

  5. Priscilla Shacklett says:

    Many times I’ve watched my husband watch “Miracle” about the American Ice Hockey team that won the Olympics in 1980 at Lake Placid. He loves that movie. It has many fine lessons and, of course, the good guys win. I think young boys could watch and take some of those lessons to heart.

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