It takes a lot to become a general. You have to go through military school, see some hard combat, and yell at a lot of privates. It doesn't always lead up to a pleasant and ingratiating personality, but these movie generals would probably make even John McCain shake in his shoes a little.
General Yen, "The Bitter Tea of General Yen"
Girls love bad boys. That seems to be the general lesson in this 1933 romantic drama. General Yen is a terrifying Chinese war criminal, who executes his own citizens without trial and just generally acts as an example of bad military behavior. But Barbara Stanwyck grows to love him all the same. And here you are, can't even get a date. Tragic.
General Nikolas Pherides, "Isle of the Dead"
As played by Boris Karloff, Pherides is both a fear-inducing movie general (how could he not be?) and an incredible stickler for military protocol. But even more frightening than he is are his surroundings, the titular island which may or may not have a bunch of walking corpses stalking around, looking for blood. And they don't respond to orders.
General Buck Turgidson, "Dr. Strangelove"
George C. Scott's General Turgidson isn't exactly war-crazed, he's more like "war-enthusiastic." So when the possibility of all-out nuclear war presents itself, he doesn't exactly bend over backwards to prevent it from happening. Never let it be said he's not attuned to the cost of war, though: "But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks."
General George S. Patton, "Patton"
History and common sense buffs know that General Patton was a real person, leading American forces to victory during World War II. But as the film about his career suggests, he was definitely a fearsome guy. From his vicious tactics and rhetoric in combat (he's a proponent of using the enemy's guts to grease the wheels of his tanks), to his cold-hearted treatment of a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress, Patton isn't the kind of guy you'd want against you in a fight. Or around you, at all.
General Francis X Hummel, "The Rock"
The only thing scarier than a general is a rogue general. Ed Harris' character in the action film "The Rock" is just that – he and a few men loyal to him have taken Alcatraz hostage, as part of a way to get his men recognition for their service in foreign wars. Although his motives may be justified, his methods definitely aren't, as he intends to fire a biological weapon right into San Francisco. Or he at least wants the authorities to think that – either way, he's a scary guy.
General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, "Hulk"
Famous as one of the Hulk's most persistent foes, "Thunderbolt" just wants to kill the Hulk, rather than reason with him (if you've ever met the Hulk, you might find yourself agreeing with his position). Played in this movie by Sam Elliott, his frightening more for what he does than any part of his manner. The only person not afraid of him appear to be his daughter Betty and Hulk himself.