EDITORIAL: The best movie mustaches

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In a new and "growing" trend, the celebration of "Movember" is gaining more steam.  If you are noticing a few more mustaches around the general public, then you are catching on.  In recent years, men have begun challenging themselves to grow a mustache for the 30 days of November as a way of bringing awareness to men's health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancers.  As trendy as it sounds, it's not a joke or lame excuse to grow an ugly mustache.  Check out the site.  Last year, contributors raised over $126 million in Movember.  That's some serious good giving.

As a movie fan and jealous appreciator of facial hair with an overdue itch for a fun editorial idea, I wanted to pay homage to Movember by ranking the best movie mustaches.  There have been hundreds, but some are legendary and we'll give them their due.  I'll also branch this out in a second column on the best movie beards for "No-shave-ember," something this very writer is casually participating in.

For mustaches, I've got this editorial and "best of" divided into two lists.  The first ranks the best "Always-On Icons," as I call them.  They are the 10 men who always seem to have a outstanding mustache going or are known for always having one.  The second list are "One Movie Wonders" of good, single movie mustache examples.  That's the roll call of classics.  Enjoy!


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1.  BURT REYNOLDS-- Sorry Clark and Charlie.  You two are easily the better actors and the more historic movie stars, but you take a backseat to "The Bandit."  Not that this is the measure of a man (well, kind of), but Burt has likely bagged more ladies with his 'stache than Gable and Chaplin combined.  To me, Burt's got the most perfect and iconic movie mustache.  Watch his cool and swagger in Smokey and the Bandit  and get back to me.  Come on.  It's Burt Reynolds!

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2.  CLARK GABLE-- While Burt may have the redneck cool factor, Clark has the debonair element conquered thanks to his mustache.  His use of the pencil-thin mustache is the standard that all men who attempt the pencil-stache should aspire to.  Few can pull it off without looking like a John Waters creep.  Even fewer carry the smolder that Gable did.  He easily could have been #1.

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3.  CHARLIE CHAPLIN-- To me, Burt and Clark have the best movie mustaches, but, without a doubt, Charlie Chaplin wore the most famous mustache.  The image of his narrow lip dash and that bowler hat is the stuff of movie legend.  He's the trailblazer (and we'll even give some extra credit to Robert Downey, Jr. for playing the real man in Chaplin) and disappeared in roles without this memorable mustache.

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4.  SAM ELLIOT-- I'm going to throw a curveball with #4 here.  Sam isn't even close to the movie star level of Chaplin, Gable, or Reynolds, but once you see a picture of him and hear his voice, it's almost like the mustache itself talks and the man is there to just hold it up.  While he has shaved his signature salt-and-pepper 'stache for a few roles (most notably The Contender), he just doesn't look right without it after seeing The Big Lebowski.  With him alongside Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, and just about every other male actor in the movie sporting facial hair, he cements Tombstone as the best single movie for mustache dominance.  For real fun, Google pictures of a younger Sam Elliot.  That's a dashing dude!

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5.  GROUCHO MARX-- Right there with Chaplin, here's another legendary old school mustache.  You know it's good when no one has attempted "The Groucho" mustache since (maybe for good reason and the fakeness of paint).  What can I say?  He owns it!

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6.  SEAN CONNERY-- After becoming an action legend playing James Bond for years clean-shaven, Scotsman Sean Connery has spent most of his senior acting career always sporting a mustache or beard.  In fact, I can't name a post-Bond movie where he was clean-shaven.  So, for as much as he's known for Bond, he's got the mustache and beard levels working for him as well.  Check out anything from Zardoz to The Untouchables.  

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7.  EDDIE MURPHY--The comedian-turned-movie-star is another one of those actors that you rarely see without some kind of mustache.  The ladies like it and it works for him, time and time again in everything from Beverly Hills Cop to Boomerang to Dreamgirls.  Futhermore, he definitely wins the award of matching mustache to soul patch with perfection.

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8.  (TIE)  DANNY TREJO AND CHEECH MARIN-- I'm stepping out of the box again with this Mexican two-some.  In a tie, I give my props to both Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin for their excellent and inescapable mustaches.  Cheech and his 'stache have been memorable for a long time, since his Cheech and Chong days, while Trejo is a late-bloomer to acting, but wields a pretty solid mustache to go with his machete.  Both are fixtures in every Robert Rodriguez film.  Stay tuned for the upcoming sequel Machete Kills coming next year.

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9.  CHARLES BRONSON-- The long-time western sidekick actor became a solo star late in his career with his Death Wish movies (something Liam Neeson and his Taken movies owe a little gratitude towards).  He's got a good intense scowl complete with a classic two-antlered 'stache.  You don't miss with this guy.

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10.  WILFORD BRIMLEY-- Winning a coin toss with Danny Glover on the strength of always having his bristly mustache, the last spot on the "Always-On Icons" goes to the textbook red-ass senior citizen.  Yes, he's become a butt-of-many-jokes pitchman for dumb products, but Wilford has had many good spots in movies, from the Cocoon series to The Natural and any excuse to get his fat ass on a horse.  And, come on, just look at that shirt.  Sexy!  There's your top 10, folks.


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KEVIN KLINE-- When it comes to facial hair, the man can do it all.  He's done different mustaches, different beards, different combinations.  All of them are unique, mostly non-prosthetic, and memorable.  Google the many looks over the years of Kevin Kline.  Between both editorials, he's the MVP for versatility.


I'll do a best-of-the-best top five list and then rattle off the remaining winners.

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1.  (TIE)  Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood-As the best Method actor working today, he dives into every role in front of him.  As two brutal characters, Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in 2002's Gangs of New York  and Daniel Plainview in 2007'sThere Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis has a pair of astonishing mustaches.  For how dedicated that actor is, I guarantee there are no prosthetic applications going on with him and those two movie mustaches.

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2.  Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat-- You've got to admire the pervy, shit-eating smile that Sacha Baron Cohen puts on for this Kazakhstanian traveler.  Topped with that bushy mustache, it's taken to another level. Great character and a funny mustache that makes all the difference.

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3.  Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy-- Right there with the real thing of time period made great by Burt Reynolds, Ron Burgundy has a perfect and fantastic 1970's mustache.  Groomed and electric with charisma, it belongs above the signature smile and golden words of the movie newsman.  Stay tuned for this sequel too, also coming in 2013.

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4.  Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction- A lot of characters have attempted the big handlebar, but no movie character has done it better than Jules Winfield, played by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction from Quentin Tarantino.  I'm pretty sure the fact that it's coupled with those outstanding sideburns and well-placed soul patch makes all the difference, but without the piece-de-resistance in the middle, none of the badassery goes together.

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5.  (TIE)  Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer in Tombstone-- On one hand you've got the thick action of Russell and, on the other, the slickness of Kilmer.  As I mentioned earlier trumpeting Sam Elliot, Tombstone is the best all-round movie for mustaches.  Just about everybody's sporting one and they are all awesome.


(in no particular order, expect for Mike Ditka... Da Bears!):

Mike Ditka  (Kicking and Screaming)

Robert Redford  (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Electric Horseman)

Robert De Niro  (The King of Comedy, The Godfather Part II, Copland, Jackie Brown)

Robin Williams  (Night at the Museum, Cadillac Man)

Anthony Edwards  (Top Gun)

Raul Julia  (The Addams Family)

Billy Crudup  (Almost Famous)

Jeffrey Jones  (Ferris Bueller's Day Off )

Ben Stiller  (Dodgeball)

Dustin Hoffman  (Hook)

Harry Shearer  (This is Spinal Tap)

Gary Oldman  (The Dark Knight Trilogy)

Mel Brooks  (Spaceballs)

The Lorax  (The Lorax)

J.K. Simmons  (The Spider-Man trilogy)

Matthew McConaughey  (Dazed and Confused)

Gene Wilder  (Young Frankenstein)

Matt Dillon  (There's Something About Mary)

Jack Black  (Bernie and Nacho Libre)

Peter Sellars  (the Pink Panther series)

Billy Dee Williams  (the first Star Wars trilogy)

Colin Farrell  (Miami Vice)

Dennis Hopper  (Easy Rider)

Errol Flynn  (The Adventures of Robin Hood)

Jean Dujardin  (The Artist)

Nicolas Cage  (Raising Arizona )

Brad Pitt  (Inglourious Basterds)

Matt Damon  (True Grit)

Johnny Depp  (Donnie Brasco)

Robin Williams  (The Birdcage)

George Clooney  (O Brother, Where For Art Thou?)

Efren Ramirez   (Napoleon Dynamite)

I hope you enjoyed the article and the list.  Share your own ranks and thoughts with a comment below.  Stay around soon for the beard edition of these pair of "Movember" and "No-shave-ember" editorials.  Thanks for reading!