NORTH FACE (2008)
Mountaineering is a manly pursuit and doubly so if some pissants have to be killed whilst on the ascent. Starting this list is North Face, a 2008 German movie.
The film follows an attempt in 1936 to summit the Eiger via the north face by two competing climbing teams. The more prominently featured pair of German climbers are Toni Kurz (Fürmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Lukas) from Berchtesgaden.
Clocking in at over two hours, the film has its fair share of melodrama, but the mountain action can be quite brutal. Remember, this is 1936, so the climbers set out with little more than some coarse looking ropes.
THE EIGER SANCTION (1975)
I’d long avoided this film, it looked like one of Clint Eastwood’s ‘lesser’ entries. Wrong. It’s fairly underrated, how could it be anything else — it was directed by Clint fucking Eastwood.
Based on the 1972 novel The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian, the film is about an art history professor, mountain climber and former assassin once employed by a secret United States government agency who is blackmailed into returning to his deadly profession and do one more “sanction”, a euphemism for killing. He agrees to join an international climbing team in Switzerland planning an ascent of the Eiger north face in order to complete a second sanction to avenge the murder of an old friend.
Eastwood has the women running after him too, they say little but require his manly services all the same. Nowadays, this would be construed as ‘sexist’.
This is probably the manliest mountain movie of them all. Sylvester Stallone’s career was on a downtown, he needed this. So he humbly (emphasis on humbly) asked Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin to make it a thing.
If you watch this film again, especially after many years, you’re going to find just how well it has aged. It’s so slick and with amazing pacing. Is it Stallone’s best film of the 1990’s?
But there’s an even manlier version out there, albeit in pretty bad VHS quality. The workprint of Cliffhanger is more violent, and uses the soundtrack from Predator. I’ve seen it, and it is as manly as it sounds.
SHOOT TO KILL (1988)
What can be better than Tom Berenger in his prime scaling a mountain? Probably, Tom Berenger scaling a mountain, and defeating the wilderness, in order to find and protect his woman from pissant kidnappers.
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Sidney Poitier (in his first role in ten years), the film is done the old way. Stuntmen, nosebleed heights, and no blue screen to be found anywhere. I’d even say that this could very well be Tom Berenger’s best movie.