Is that mustache really necessary?

October 14, 2009

I bet you didn't know that there are necessary mustaches, and unnecessary mustaches.


The necessary ones? Ronald Colman, Clark Gable, William Powell, Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx. Sure, Ronald Colman still looked remarkably debonair sans 'stache in A Tale of Two Cities, but when you picture these men you picture them with their trademark facial hair. The two go hand in hand. The look really suited them.And then there are the unnecessary ones.Oh, boy.Sure, sometimes it's a period picture and that was the fashion of the time. Maybe the producer thought that the actor needed a little machismo to add some age to a boyish face. Maybe it was just a really bad costume decision. But for some reason, these men ended up on screen with mustaches and the results are not pretty.



James Cagney sported this little mustache in Torrid Zone and Ceiling Zero. Torrid Zone was on TCM last night and the fact that his facial hair was distracting me from paying attention to the actual plot was the spark for this post.



Gary Cooper displayed a kind of messy looking mustache in Peter Ibbetson --granted, a period piece-- but really, I've seen many movies that take place in this time period in which the lead actor is not forced to look like this. Goodness he was so handsome without it. Why, Gary? Whyyyy????????


Heavens to Betsy, I think this is the worst. Robert Montgomery had one of the most beautiful faces, gorgeous and delicate. Who on earth decided that this was a good look? No seriously, who was it? If they are still alive I am writing to them to complain. (From Trouble for Two)

This image showed up when I typed in "Gary Cooper mustache" in a google search-- no clue what movie it is from but I kind of wish I did because I think I'd avoid that movie now.


Oh, Montgomery Clift. You looked so handsome for 90% of The Heiress. This is another example of the "years have passed, so to show a progression in age we will simply add a mustache to his face" syndrome.





My beloved Dirk. What have you done to your face?
Another example of the syndrome that befell Monty.
(From Esther Waters.)


I think this is actually the easiest to swallow. His face hasn't actually been ruined by the addition of facial hair, it sort of fits. And it doesn't look smarmy like a lot of the others do. But still, Henry Fonda's face looks so much better without it. (From Fort Apache)



Dick Powell.... I take back what I said about good old Bob Montgomery. I'm afraid you are the worst offender. If ever a face did not need a mustache, this one is it. Boyish, cute face + mustache = disaster! (From It Happened Tomorrow)



Did you even know this was Franchot Tone? I know, he doesn't even look like himself!


Poor James Stewart. Another victim of the passage-of-time syndrome. Couldn't a little grey around the temples have done the trick? A little salt and pepper in the hair? Wrinkles? False teeth? Anything?? (From The Last Gangster)



Thanks to Mercurie for reminding me about Gene Kelly's awful mustache in The Three Musketeers (And The Pirate) -- this definitely belongs on the list!

Thanks to Mythical Monkey for posting a link in my comments to Humphrey Bogart's facial hair disaster in Virginia City! This one is pretty bad!


Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter, thanks to Mantooth's suggestion in the comments -- if ever a face didn't need hairy ornamentation it was his.





Ye Gads!!! What have they done to Dana Andrews?!


If you haven't been able to tell by my captions, this was a totally satirical post. Please don't take it seriously, and please keep this in mind if you leave any comments. I did not mean to offend anyone, and I am, in fact, a big fan of all of the men in this post (I mean, come on- I included Dirk Bogarde!)

29 comments:

Nicole said...

Hahaha This was hilarious, Franchot and Robert M. look so odd with a mustache. That was so not necessary to have a mustache, both of those men are handsome without it. :D

Mercurie said...

This brings to mind something I used to rib an ex-girlfriend about--I claimed Gene Kelly looked better with a moustache! I know he didn't, but she was a huge Gene Kelly fan and it was something I could tease her about. Anyway, you are right. A lot of men look good with moustaches, while a lot, well, don't. Of your examples, I think Jimmy Stewart looked the worst. Just awful!

Millie said...

Ahhh! Jimmy looked 9 times as scary WITH a mustache!

I loved the post HILARIOUS!

MissMusical said...

Oh my, James Cagney and Cary Grant with mustaches? What were they thinking?
And I must admit Jimmy Stewart still looks adorable, though I definitely prefer him without a mustache. ;)

Amanda Cooper said...

How could anyone think that giving James Stewart a mustache was a good idea??!!! I think I'm going to have nightmares! And Cary Grant? Ack!! Isn't it awful how a mustache can ruin such perfectly good faces?

Wendymoon said...

Love it! Some men just aren't the mustache types.

Maria said...

Haha, as I was reading your post I was thinking that they couldn't look that bad with a moustache... until I saw the pics. My! You were totally right, they were simply auwful with that line line of facil hair on their upper lip. Poor Jimmy, Cary... Thanks for such a funny post, Kate!

Elizabeth said...

OH MY GOD!!! Those are some VERY unnecessary moustaches! Dick Powell looks HORRIBLE!

DKoren said...

Hah! oh man, great post! Although, I actually have to admit, I rather dig that Cary Grant pic with the moustache. As opposed to the other actors shown, I think he pulls it off, at least in that particular picture. I may change my mind if I see him in motion. LOL!

It's funny how just plain awful moustaches can be, but how lovely scruff looks.

Laughingrat said...

Yeah, those mustaches are all kinds of wrong. Hey, the one Cagney sported in "Lady Killer" may be even worse, although it's sort of an ironic mustache--very meta.

Avalon76 said...

Don't forget John Gilbert as one of the "necessary" ones. Definitely suited him!

Jimmy Stewart + mustache = AUUGH!!!

CagneyFan said...

LOL hilarious post. ITA. Franchot Tone with a mustache is almost unrecognizable. And you are so right about Cagney. He made a handful of movies with that ridiculous looking 'stache, and, like you, I find it very distracting.

BTW, I admit to liking Clark Gable w/o mustache. Pre-Code, pre-mustache Gable is unbeatable!

Great post. Made my day!

Lolita said...

A wonderful post! I was so amused!
I think Cary Grant is the one who looks absolutely worst with his mustache! Why? And no, I did NOT recognize Franchot Tone!
And who would think of putting a mustache on James Cagney?! Jesus, it looks like he's going to a costume ball or something.

KC said...

HAHA--I can't believe that was Franchot Tone! And Dirk looks so goofy with that whisk broom over his lip. I was thinking of doing a post about the best mustaches, but I think your worst mustaches angle is so much better!

Mythical Monkey said...

The Cary Grant mustache is a revelation -- I didn't know he'd ever worn one.

You should also check out Humphrey Bogart with a pencil-thin mustache in Virginia City. Not good. There's a photo at Doctor Macro's site.

http://www.doctormacro1.info/Images/Flynn,%20Errol/Annex/Annex%20-%20Flynn,%20Errol%20(Virginia%20City)_01.jpg

I tried linking directly to it but it didn't work out ...

pjowens75 said...

Very funny post, Kate. I don't think I've ever seen Gary Cooper with one...scary indeed.

BTW, I think the Cary Grant pic is from GUNGA DIN. Please don't let his 'stache prevent you from seeing this GREAT film!

mantooth said...

Nice post!

The Cary Grant picture is from The Last Outpost. More pictures from the film are available at The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages.

Don't forget about Gregory Peck sporting a 'stache that "cost [the studio] millions" in The Gunfighter! Click here for a screencap from the film.

Princess Fire and Music said...

Hilarious post! And ugh, bad facial-hair decisions abound.

Elsie said...

[Giggle.] I was just talking about this very topic with someone last night! Dick Powell, oh. He was so handsome and perfect without the 'stache. Same for Mr. Montgomery! I can't decide, though, if I like George Brent with one.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/George_Brent_in_Dark_Victory_trailer.jpg

Probably without, though!

Amanda Cooper said...

Gahh! I just realized something - Tone with a moustache looks like Christian Bale in Little Women! Hilarious!

Daniela said...

I do admit, I like Montgomery Clift with that little moustache but Dana Andrews? Gregory Peck? And oh my god, Gene Kelly? There are some men who look semi-okay with it but these men certainly need not add any unnecessary ornaments to their already beautiful faces! It really is a shame!

VOGUE VIGILANTE said...

What a perfect topic to discuss... to stache or not to stache. Poor Jimmy. It wasn't just the fact that he had the stache, but the kind of stache was appalling!! It was so weird and wimpy. However, one leading man who did wear it well was David Niven. Although not terribly masculine, he is fun to watch on screen.

By the way, this is my first time snooping around your blog and I am quite enjoying it!

Sarah said...

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!! I have often thought of doing a piece about this and then got lazy and only got around to doing this: http://2009and-scene.blogspot.com/2009/04/clark-gable-sans-mustachei-think-i.html

But I fully agree and fully enjoyed this entry!!

Jennythenipper said...

I've actually gotten rather used to mustaches since becoming a Warren William fan. There are some cases, though where a mustache is all wrong. Gary Cooper? Gregory Peck? Yikes and double yikes.

I rather like Last Outpost, the movie where Cary has a "stache. It's silly but good and it has Claude Rains.

mati_herring said...

So, in the mustache picture in the sidebar, who does that mustache belong to??? IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY.

mati_herring said...

OH. And I really feel an honorable mention should be made for Paul Muni in "We Are Not Alone", because while he usually looks quite fetching with facial hair (the mustache he wears in "Dr. Socrates" is particularly nice, I think), his mustache in "We Are Not Alone" is just...odd. It's a weird shape or something, I dunno. I don't really like to look at it, and I am officially the biggest Paul Muni fan of all time. X^D

mati_herring said...

See, here's what I'm talking about: http://www.meredy.com/muni04.jpg

OH GOD, IT'S HORRIBLE.

Okay, I'll stop spamming your blog now. X^)

Java Bean Rush said...

Have you seen Van Johnson with a mustache in IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME? There is a scene early on where he shaves it. It's one of those big handlebar mustaches that looks like he's eating a giant tarantula.

Maureen said...

You need to reconsider William Powell. I always thought he was suave but funny looking. Without the mustache he is gorgeous with eyes to die for. (see the beginning of My Man Godfrey,where he has a 4-5 day stubble, but no stache.) I don't know how a pencil thin mustache is able to change his face so much, but it really does.