Ashley Clark

What makes a man? It’s a question that’s been asked down the ages, and we can all agree that somewhere along the line, facial hair must come into the equation. Moustaches go in and out of style, but they’re always guaranteed to provoke a reaction, whether it’s coos of admiration or howls of laughter. Up on the big screen, those ‘taches are bigger, better, and have a whole lot more impact. As a celebration of the moustache, we’ve picked out some of the greatest onscreen examples of all time.

1. Sam Elliott as ‘The Stranger - The Big Lebowski

This mysterious cowboy popped up out of nowhere to dispense cryptic pearls of wisdom to our beleaguered hero The Dude in his thick, treacly Texas accent. As if his pronouncements weren’t oblique enough (“Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes, well, the bar eats you”), they had to travel through the gargantuan crop of handlebar foliage atop his lip. It surely deserves a credit of its own.

2. Sean Connery as Zed - Zardoz

Normally a moustache is statement enough by itself. In the case of Sean Connery in bizarre sci-fi carve-up Zardoz, however, it simply adds the terrifying icing onto an already fairly ominous cake. If you look at this ensemble for too long you’ll surely go mad.

3. Tom Selleck as Jimmy Rainwood - An Innocent Man

Has one single actor ever been so comprehensively defined by that which adorns his top lip? A near ever-present throughout his acting career, we’ve gone for his moustache’s starring role in revenge drama An Innocent Man. With that dark, imposing beast on his face, did we ever doubt the outcome? When Selleck went “lip commando” for 1997’s In & Out, the results were disorienting and, frankly, a little scary.

4. Daniel Day Lewis as Bill the Butcher - Gangs of New York

This effort of master craftsmanship perfectly summed up the character: flamboyant, flashy and, erm, spiky as all hell. This outstanding mo’ only served to make co-star Leo DiCaprio’s ratty effort look even more pathetic.

5. Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy - Anchorman

A classic 70’s style moustache for a classic 70’s style man. It’s hilariously manly and bushy; a product of its time, just like its buffoonish owner. The kind of facial hair that goes well with three fingers of Glenlivet, with a little bit of pepper... and some cheese.

6. William H Macy as Little Bill - Boogie Nights

Veteran character actor Macy made a breakthrough in the 1990s playing a sad-sack (he was nominated for an Oscar for his turn as a dishonest car dealer in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo). But his sad-sackery hit new depths in PTA’s porn drama. His droopy ‘tache (and sorry mullet) seemed to be dripping with misery, and pointed the direction in which his character was destined to plummet.

7. Eric Bana as Mark ‘Chopper’ Read - Chopper

Though we could just as easily have plumped for another psychotically jaunty jailbird (step forward Tom Hardy as Bronson), there’s something about loveable murderer Chopper’s handlebar that makes us go all warm and fuzzy.

8. Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu - The Face of Fu Manchu

Sometimes, words simply can’t do facial hair justice. This, ladies and gents, is one of those occasions. One simply has to gaze upon the stringy wonder of the master criminal’s ‘tache. Let’s not get too deeply into the politics of the very British Christopher Lee playing Asian, though....

9. Samuel L Jackson as Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction

This bushy, intimidating, and slightly silly effort (but would you laugh at him? Say “what” again!) complemented the hitman’s glistening jheri-curl. As we proved last week (in our list of crazy haircuts), Samuel L. Jackson is one that can be relied on to deliver on the hair front.

10. Terry-Thomas in everything

At his peak in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the British actor purveyed the ultimate in rakish charm. Perched atop the distinctive gap between his two front teeth, this understated, elegantly parted ‘tache stood for mischief, merriment and English gentlemanliness.

Follow Ashley on Twitter: @_Ash_Clark

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