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2014 was a fantastic year for the movie moustache. Wes Anderson’s acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel, sported some fabulous facial hair from Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray and Adrian Brody (Tony Revolori gets bumped due to grease-penciling), as did Seth McFarlane’s Western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West (which came with this bonus in the form of a jaunty tune). With the impending release of the heavily-moustachioed Mortdecai, we have decided to take a look back at the most important/dazzling/influential moustaches in movie history.
15. Sam Elliot – The Big Lebowski
Fear not dear reader, this is not the last time the great baritone Sam Elliott will make this definitive list. In as meta a role as Elliott could ever hope to receive, the Coen Brothers cast Hollywood’s token cowboy as the token cowboy in their cult hit, The Big Lebowski. The sarsaparilla slinging, ten-gallon hat wearing, stranger offers sage advice to our titular Lebowski, through a thick tangle of white whiskers – guidance so pure it could only have come from behind such a magnificent moustache.
14. Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs of New York
Ever the method actor, Daniel Day-Lewis most likely curled the tips of his moustache with pig fat and candle wax for three years before shooting on Gangs of New York began. Growing one hell of a full and intimidating stache, Day-Lewis’s hard work does not go unnoticed.
13. Dustin Hoffman – Hook
With enough wax to keep the illustrious Jolly Roger afloat for decades, Dustin Hoffman’s curled moustache is sheer facial-hair perfection. Taking nearly as much pride in his equally-curly eyebrows and shiny namesake, Captain Hook is a sight to behold. Hoffman uses his moustache’s full range to deliver a spooky performance opposite the late (great) Robin Williams, and one that Generation Y will not soon forget.
12. Sean Connery – Zardoz
If you need any more than the above picture to explain why this moustache is on my list, I bid you good day. Secondarily, if you have not had the distinct pleasure of seeing Zardoz, you’re welcome.
11. Harry Shearer – This is Spinal Tap
The pioneering mock-rockumentary comes with the ultimate faux rock-stache. Changing shape throughout the film, Derek Smalls’ chameleon-like moustache bends to the will of the era in which it is grown. Shearer has an innate ability to pump out impressive facial hair, and Christopher Guest and hairstylist Michele Payne take full advantage.
10. Ben Kingsley – Gandhi
Not only did Ben Kingsley get an Oscar for his performance as Gandhi, he grew a sweet moustache in the process. In a charmingly rich performance as the master of peaceful protest, Kingsley’s respectful portrayal was capped off by an uncanny resemblance to Gandhi himself; largely due to a perfectly-cloned moustache.
9. Mel Brooks – Spaceballs
Mel Brooks could not have chosen a better moustache for himself in Spaceballs. As the aloof President Skroob, Brooks sports the pinnacle of high-brow facial hair – the up-curled pencil thin. Almost cartoonishly evil, President Skroob’s moustache says “I don’t breath just any air, I drink Perri-air”
8. Danny Glover – Lethal Weapon
Danny Glover has the best dad-stache in the business, and an acting career that revolves around being equally reserved. A perfect accompaniment to Mel Gibson’s haphazard Martin Riggs, Glover’s Roger Murtaugh is a by-the-book cop with the moustache to back it up.
7. Tom Selleck – Always
No moustache list would be complete without the master of the ‘stache himself, Tom Selleck. For almost his entire career, Selleck has represented the epitome of moustachioed prowess. A ladies man with the facial hair to prove it, Selleck’s television-based career is the only thing keeping him from a top spot on this list.
6. Whole Cast – Tombstone
What an incredible line-up of facial hair aficionados. Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, and the quintessential cowboy himself, Sam Elliot. Never before has a hardline group of lawmen looked more intimidating than with four of the finest moustaches in western history. Russell’s perfectly-groomed crumb-catcher is a sight to behold – the materialization of everything Wyatt Earp stands for. Val Kilmer’s musketeer-inspired soul patch, hints at the greatness that once inhabited the healthy law man, and Sam Elliott’s glorious handlebar lip sweater, is every bit as seasoned as the man himself.
5. Boris Karloff/ Christopher Lee/ Chia-Hui Liu – The Mask of Fu Manchu/ The Face of Fu Manchu/ Kill Bill vol. 2
Arguably one of the most well-known moustache styles is the legendary Fu Manchu. Requiring years of zen-like patience and meticulous care, the Fu Manchu is the blackbelt of moustaches. Worn first by Boris Karloff himself (The Mask of Fu Manchu – 1932) and far less-racistly by Christopher Lee (The Face of Fu Manchu – 1965), the Fu Manchu was mainly introduced to American audiences via Chinese kung-fu movies. A tradition commented on by Quentin Tarantino in his Kill Bill series, with his hard-hitting, disciplinarian Master Pai-Mei (Chia-Hui/Gordon Liu).
4. Clark Gable – Gone With the Wind
The penultimate pencil-thin (John Waters might have him beat, but for entirely different, and far more creepy reasons), Clark Gable’s famous moustache lends indelible charm to Gone With the Wind‘s Rhett Butler. With the curl of his lip, Gable is able to melt the hearts of women, and claim superiority over any man within 50 miles.
3. Lee Van Cleef – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly/ Any Western
Mess with Lee Van Cleef’s moustache, I dare you. Portraying the archetypal western villain, Van Cleef’s expansive career in the genre is unmistakable. As the “Bad” in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Van Cleef’s badass stache will live in the hearts of Western lovers, and the nightmares of those dumb enough to draw against him for eternity.
2. Groucho Marx – Particularly Duck Soup, but really almost Anything
The Marx Brothers were wildly successful Vaudevillians and Broadway performers before ever turning to motion pictures. Their riotous schtick and lifelong bond shined through beautifully in their work, and galvanized their films’ status as some of the funniest in American history. Groucho was easily the most distinguishable of the five (although Gummo and Zeppo were far less prominent) with his thick painted-on moustache and eyebrows. One of the most popular Halloween costumes for a last-minute idea, or the determinedly lazy, Groucho’s moustache is an American icon.
1. Charlie Chaplain – Anything
The second most famous moustache in history (number one is more infamous than famous), Charlie Chaplin’s distinctive moustache was as much a part of his “lovable Tramp” than his pigeon-toed walk or bowler hat. An iconic and whimsical moustache that has been forever ruined, the Chaplin-stache will likely never make a comeback (unless you’re Michael Jordan).