Moustaches of the Movies

It’s that time of year again – Movember, the month formerly known as November. As he embarks on his own mission to grow a Mo’, James Hooper gives a run-down of some of the biggest and best Whiskers of the Pictures to help you decide on which ‘tache is to your taste!

Movember challenges men, such as this writer, to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean-shaven and then grow a moustache. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.

To celebrate this testament to testosterone I’m going to run down through the top ten ‘taches in cinema history to give you, dear reader, some ideas for how you’d like to style your very own ‘stache.

Billy Dee-Williams – The Painter’s Brush

Better known to most people as Lando Calrissian from Star Wars, and to other, less cool people as Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), Williams exudes the kind of cool that even cucumbers and the undersides of pillows aspire to. But it would count for naught were it not for his stylish, restrained mo’ worn above, what the Star Wars Visual Dictionary describes as, his “winning smile”. He is the only person in the Star Wars universe to even attempt to pull one off. And he’s not even a Jedi.

Cesar Romero – The Lampshade

Such was the supposed pulling power of this man’s face-fur that he refused to shave it when portraying arch-nemesis the Joker on the fantastic 1960s Batman show. Instead, they had to cake on layers of makeup in an effort to disguise it. Take note, Mo Growers, don’t let anyone get between you and your ‘tache.

Stan Lee – The Pyramidal

While not technically a movie star, the Marvel maverick has made cameo appearances in many of the silver screen adaptations of his famous creations. Did you spot him as a sausage vendor in X-Men? A security guard in Hulk? As Hugh Heffner in Iron Man? He saves a little girl in Spider-Man, gets poisoned in The Incredible Hulk and narrowly avoids death by toxic waste in Daredevil.

All this while sporting a wonderfully mature snow-white brush, which, when combined with his signature specs, make him impossible to miss!

John Waters – The Pencil

The American filmmaker, actor, writer, journalist, visual artist, and art collector, who rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films, will be mostly familiar to us as a talking head on Documentaries with a creepily thin layer of hair around his mouth that he’s diligently sported since the early 70s.

Before Waters made it his own, the pencil style was mainly the field of suave British actors such as David Niven, Leslie “Ding Dong (Shreddies advert)” Philips, Errol Flynn and Bruce Forsyth.

Daniel Day Lewis – The HandleBar

While he may not wear one in his day-to-day life, Daniel Day-Lewis may have done more for bringing the handlebar back into fashion than anyone else. His perfectly curled mo’ nearly steals the show in There Will Be Blood and basically should have gotten its own credit in Gangs of New York meaning that it’s actually quite hard to picture his face not being caressed by a suave and well-groomed fur-fest.

Tom Selleck – The Chevron

Now, when you read Selleck’s name, the prevailing 80s pop-culture hangover that we’re forced, by the internet and constant TV list shows, to adhere to would have us associate him with Magnum P.I. in which Selleck and his voluminous, multilayered moustache combated crime in Hawaii.

But really. Be honest with yourself. The only thing you were thinking was Richard from Friends. We’re children of the 90s – this is our time.

That doesn’t detract in anyway from the coolness of his facial fuzz, a lipsweater so famous that one only has to type “moustache” into Google image search to return a picture of Selleck.

Sam Elliot – The Walrus

Moustache experts (and yes, there exists such a thing) Jon Chattman and Rich Tarantino have rated Elliot’s immense whiskers, through a highly scientific process, one of the best moustaches to ever have grown, in their book Sweet ‘Stache: 50 Badass Moustaches and the Faces Who Sport Them. “Most actors grow a moustache for a particular role, but Elliot doesn’t need a movie. The movie needs his moustache,” says Chattman.

Salma Hayak – The Ronnie

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a boys’ only club. Even the gals can get in on the Moust-action and give the men a run for their money as the usually bodacious Salma Hayak proved when portraying Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in Frida. She sprouts better lip-lockes than most Leaving Certs and should be an inspiration to any MoSista wanting to join the cause and bring back the mo. Except don’t. Cuz it’s disgusting.

Charlie Chaplin – The Tooth Brush

Perhaps the most famous moustache in cinema; if one grew one and popped on a bowler hat, pretty much everyone on earth would know who you’re attempting to imitate. Forget to include the hat and you may get a dirty look or two. Chaplin’s tooth-brush moustache is instantly recognisable as an affectation of his iconic hobo character though he didn’t actually wear it in daily life.

In a 1933 interview, Chaplin said he added the moustache because it had a comical appearance and was small enough so as not to hide his expression.

The moustache itself has earned a wholly undeserved, bad reputation after being misused by a thoroughly nasty German dictator and recently spotted gracing the fizzog of Robert Mugabe. While the poor old toothbrush ‘tache had no direct hand in any of the events of WWII, its rehabilitation and revival as popular facial accessory seems most unlikely, despite the recent efforts of comedian Richard Herring to “reclaim the toothbrush for comedy”.

Originally appeared in the November 2010 edition of Motley

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