Big boys don't cry … except at the movies

PETS, paternity and just being mates are the three key ingredients in a movie that are guaranteed to get men sobbing, new research has revealed.

They are the common themes among the 20 films most likely to leave even the most macho of viewers in floods of tears, according to a poll.

The list includes the finale of classic male bonding films The Shawshank Redemption and Lord of the Rings to despair at an Aston Martin crushed in The Italian Job.

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It even includes a classic moment from a Tom and Jerry cartoon in which Tom takes pity on Jerry and rescues him from freezing to enjoy Christmas by a roaring fire.

Plots that deal with the relationship between father and son or adult and child or even man and pig — the film Babe features in the list of 20.

The survey comes after the recent release of Toy Story 3, which has become as known for leaving men sobbing uncontrollably as it has for its box office success.

Unlike women, who tend to cry at love stories like Dirty Dancing, men have very different reasons for pretending they have something in their eye halfway through a film.

But nothing opens male tear ducts more than men being men together and sharing their dramatic experiences.

Top of the list is Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as the adventurers look back on what has happened in the long film while a stirring score plays over the top.

Second is the scene on the beach at the end of The Shawshank Redemption in which the two prisoners are reunited after one has escaped and the other freed on parole.

Others in the list include the distinctly unromantic ending to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest starring Jack Nicholson as an inmate of a mental asylum.

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After his character has been turned into a vegetable by electric shock treatment, he is suffocated by his friend, a giant Indian chief, who then escapes.

Animals feature strongly in the list. Owen Wilson saying goodbye to his dying dog in Marley and Me and the pig who thinks he's a sheepdog in Babe both feature.

And a scene that would probably never feature on a similar list for women also makes it, thanks to the emotional attachment men have with beautiful cars.

Never mind the Minis, it is the scene early on in The Italian Job, when the Mafia destroy two E-Types and an Aston Martin to warn off Michael Caine.

The list was compiled from the feedback to the BBC Magazine website and ranges from boxing classics Rocky and The Champ to the Finnish documentary Steam of Life.

A BBC spokesman said: "In response to the discussion about why Toy Story 3 makes men cry male readers have been getting in touch with their emotional side and opening up about their own private tear-jerkers."

The top ten

1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King — The Grey Havens scene as the film — and the trilogy — climaxes, to the sound of a stirring score

2 The Shawshank Redemption — The reunion between the two former prisoners on the beach in Mexico

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3 Up — The heart-rending relationship between an elderly man and a boy

4 One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest — The Indian chief kills Jack Nicholson and escapes from the psychiatric institution to freedom

5 Marley and Me — Man played by Owen Wilson says goodbye to his dying dog

6 The Champ — A retired boxer has one last fight for the sake of his son

7 The Notebook — The final scene in the rest home where the old lovers die together

8 Babe — Where the farmer ends the movie by saying: 'That'll do, pig'

9 Field of Dreams — Kevin Costner plays catch with his father

10 Chariots of Fire — When the British atheletes win their Olympic races against the odds