Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Manly, moral men in movies

After including a devastating quotation from Stephen Greydanus about how Brokeback Mountain is an utterly nihilistic film when it comes to destroying any last vestiges of noble masculinity, Patrick, at the Paragraph Farmer, takes upon himself the task of coming up with a "triple bill for people who want cinematic portraits of masculinity: Outlaw Josey Wales, Glory, and Finding Forrester, Chariots of Fire, Ulee's Gold, or The Mission." I've never looked at movies in that light, so I'm struggling to come up with the best portrayals of manly, moral men in movies. I've decided that my list is: 1. Rhett Butler, in Gone With The Wind. Yes, he's a bit of a crook, but he's as masculine as they come, and his very cynicism enables him to engage in and be true to his own code of honor. (This is even more clear if you read the book, where he proves to be very decent to those whom he truly admires, such as Melanie Wilkes, as opposed to those he disdains, such as those who have a weird love affair with Southern slave mythology.) 2. Phil, in Groundhog Day. Phil is a manly man, in that he really wants to get the girl. He's a moral man in that, during his endless day, which he repeats over and over, he develops an inner morality, premised on caring for those unable to care for themselves, helping people in true heroic fashion and, oh by the way, winning the girl after having developed these manly and moral traits. 3. Brig. Gen. Frank Savage in Twelve O'Clock High, who takes on an air squadron with a moral problem and whips it into shape. He does it by demonstrating what many would consider the worst masculine traits -- using shame, verbal brutality, aggression, etc. -- but he takes as good as he gives and, because these methods are successful, he dramatically increases each of his flyer's chances of survival. Great movie. Very manly many stuff. Anyone who wants to run with this meme should consider himself or herself tagged. UPDATE: Just got back from Narnia and I have to add Peter to the list. The boy is portrayed as callow and bossy in the beginning, and then morphs into a true manly man: honest, brave, kind, thoughtful. It's nice to think of legions of boys and young men seeing this. One hopes they see it soon enough in their development that the taint of pop culture doesn't leave them feeling he's dorky, rather than a truly noble, manly man.