By admission, or by sneaked glances by others in the theater, these are the movies that move men to tears. Grab your hankie, or wear long sleeves for these flicks!
15. Brian’s Song (1971)
This Emmy-winning movie of the week in 1971 about Chicago Bears running back, Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and his friendship with fullback Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Coach George Halas (Jack Warden) encourages Piccolo to be Sayers’s roommate during the season – This movie deals with friendship and race in a powerful way Piccolo and Sayer’s bunk up together; unheard of at the time for black and white players.) Piccolo develops cancer; Sayers stands by his good friend.
14. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Double Oscar-winning movie follows the story of U.S. troops who storm the beaches of Normandy, and three brothers die on the battlefield. The fourth brother is trapped behind enemy lines. Ranger captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and seven soldiers (6 soldiers and a photographer) are given the duty to penetrate German-held territory, and bring the boy home. The kind of honor exhibited in this flick will keep a strong man crying along the 3-hour trek to the end, and maybe even for a while after that.
13. Old Yeller (1957)
This Disney family classic tells the tale of young farm boy Travis (Tommy Kirk), who learns life-lessons of courage, loyalty and trust, and manhood from an adopted yellow dog.
12. The Yearling (1946)
Based on the 1939 novel, this movie will tear into the meat of the heart of any man who has ever had to say goodbye to a pet, or longed for a stronger relationship with his mother. Penny Baxter (Gregory Peck), once a Confederate soldier, and his wife Ora (Jane Wyman), are pioneer farmers in Florida, 1878, 13 years after the American Civil War. Their son Jody (Claude Jarman Jr.), a boy in his pre-teen years, is their only surviving child. The Yearling is very “Old Yeller”-like in that Jody has to shoot his pet, in this case a deer. Go ahead and let it flow; you won’t be able to help yourself.
11. Rudy (1993)
In this fact-based drama about the triumph of the human spirit, scrawny high school boy Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) dreams of playing football at Notre Dame, but his father (Ned Beatty) can’t afford to send him, and his mediocre grades aren’t good enough to get him there. Rudy ends up at a college across the street from ND instead. Instead of being discouraged, Rudy works hard and eventually transfers to Notre Dame, where he begins assisting the groundskeeper and joins the practice squad. You don’t even have to love football to enjoy, and shed a tear at this movie; just understand passion and desire, and you’ll get it… or it will get you.
10. Rocky (1976)
Sylvester Stallone will have a guy crying over more than bad plastic surgery. Rocky is definitely a crowd pleaser with a not-so-happily-ever-after ending. When boxing champ Carl Weathers wants to give a nobody a shot at the title as a publicity stunt, his handlers pick Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky won the 1976 Best Picture Oscar.
9. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Another Oscar-winner, Gregory Peck handles his role flawlessly in this classic adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Attucus Finch (Peck) is a widowed lawyer who takes on the task of defending an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges. Finch ends up in a whirlwind of hate and prejudice that threatens to invade the lives of his children, Jem and Scout (Phillip Alford and Mary Badham). Start with an easy chair; add one average man, a basic understanding of right, wrong, and justice, popcorn, salt, and butter, and you have a recipe for man-tears.
8. Toy Story 3 (2010)
That’s right, I said it; Toy Story 3 will have a grown man suffering from ocular moistening when he least expects it. Be ready. Psychologists have been sifting through all of the things that effect us, looking for clues. Turns out, it isn’t really about leaving actual toys, it is about the losing parents, about empty-nesting. If the kids are already gone; the moviegoer will remember the feelings, if the moviegoer is sitting in the theater with his brood of little ones, he will be saddened at the thought of them growing and moving on… Who knows, you know what? Maybe some dudes are just really attached to their toys. Whatever the reason, make sure you order extra butter on your popcorn so you have an excuse to grab a few extra napkins at the snack counter.
7. The Natural (1984)
A bat made from a tree struck by lightning and a passion for baseball, that’s what defined main character Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) in this American pastime flick. But when Roy is shot and seriously wounded, his career gets cut short. Hobbs tries out for a struggling team after many years, steps to the plate, and knocks the ball out of the. This movie will have tears trickling with the crack of the bat, and will be dripping off a strong-man’s chin before the ball goes over the wall.
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
This fantastically done film won all five major Academy Awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay). Cuckoo’s Nest still has the ability to entertain and inspire. If you can get a man to sit down and watch this movie, you’ll be handing out hankies by the end. Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is committed to an asylum and inspires his fellow patients to rebel against the authoritarian rule of head nurse, Mildred Ratched.
5. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Upstanding banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is framed for a double murder in the 1940s and begins a life sentence at the Shawshank prison, he meets, and is befriended by an older inmate, Red (Morgan Freeman). During his long stretch in prison, Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates for his upstanding moral code and unquenchable sense of hope. Not exactly a storybook ending, but there will be moisture before the end.
4. Schindler’s List (1993)
Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic movie took seven Academy Awards home (including Best Picture). List is a testament to the possibility of human goodness of heart. Greedy factory owner Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) was exploiting cheap Jewish labor, but in the midst of WWII became an accidental humanitarian. He lost his fortune by helping to save 1,100 Jews from Auschwitz. The movie is moving even to the hardest of hearts, and will not only make a grown man cry, but perhaps renew his belief in the human spirit.
3. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Another baseball movie, only this one is for real. This flick is about one of America’s heroes: baseball phenomenon, “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig (played by Gary Cooper). Follow Lou Gehrig from childhood to his time on the diamond. Gehrig was the American ethic of humility and hard work, playing in 2,130 consecutive games until he was forced to retire because of the disease that now bears his name. You’ll laugh, and yes… you’ll cry.
2. Big Fish (2003)
William Bloom (Billy Crudup) tries to learn more about his dying father, Edward (Albert Finney), by gluing facts from the fantastical stories and epic legends his father has told him over the years. Edward was a traveling salesman, and his journeys throughout the South are the base for the tales. This Tim Burton movie is much lighter than most of Burton’s work, and really touches on a son’s desire to see his father as a hero, and as a human. Grab a box of tissue, some snacks, and a cold beer, and tuck in for some good film, and a good cry.
1. My Life (1993)
Imagine you were young, just making ready to start a family… and you find out you are going to die. That’s what happens to the Jones’s (Michael Keaton & Nicole Kidman). Bob Jones prepares for his death by documenting his life for his unborn child. You go through treatment after treatment with Bob Jones, but ultimately, all he can do is live out the time he has left. Tears… yeah, try sobs.
Honorable Mention: Tuesday’s With Morrie (1999)
A true story based on the book written by Mitch Albom (Hank Azaria), a sports commentator who learns an old favorite professor, Morrie Schwartz (Jack Lemmon) of his is dying from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch learns about death, and about life in one final ‘class’ with his dear professor, where graduation is the death of Morrie.
There it is. 15+1 movies that will have the buff-est, strongest, manliest man crying like a baby by the end. Man or not, what are the movies that moved you to tears?