Monday, November 21, 2011

Moustaches of the Silver Screen

Since Movember's almost over and I have a week free from promoting SHADOWS screenings (as there isn't one on this week) I thought I might as well get a post about moustaches going in the very nick of time.So, here it is.

My theme will be ...

Give me a second...

Sublimation levels in the suggestion of testosteronic force as evidenced in the appearance of moustaches on leading men in narrative cinema ... through the ages.

To begin with we ought to bear in mind that cinema's emergence from the late nineteenth century featured moustachioed menfolk as a consequence of a century of intense facial creativity. The renactment below of classic Victorian sideboards is indicative:

Nevetheless, by the time cinema rolled around no one looked like that on screen. In fact the only people who did look like that were stalwarts of the industrious underclass attempting to prolong the industrial revolution through the fearless adoption of its style (evidenced below in this portrait of IK Brunel, which I -- quite seriously -- regard as the first modernist image):

Anyway, apart from melodrama villains the moustache was gone from the pre-war screen of dreams.

Then there was the war and the alphas all looked like this:

Kaiser Whilhelm anticipates his afterlife as a park statue

Not goth enough?

The stylised flying vulva atop the headdress attests to the complexity of this artist: he identifies with both egg and egg dispenser. I realise this caption is at odds with the light-entertainment mood of this piece but I am attempting some innovation here so will you please keep it down? Of course it might just be a golden coffee bean. They had colonised both Kenya and New Guinea at that stage, after all.

Anyway, after the great slaughter, the world-wide reaction followed all avantguardist movements by adopting the name of the previous one and adding the word post. The Post-War moustache was for a time absent in reaction to the wartime. What does this have to do with movies?

Ivor Novello: actor of his age in a VERY early draft of Bowie's Aladin Sane cover art
Even the alphas refrained from worrying their top lips:

Edward VIII after a shave.
Similarly, the alphamost of the top followed suit (and in suits):

Cary Grant who here knows something you don't know
And, by Cary's time in the spotlight, there was also a reaction to another famous moustache:

Whose style was really only a cover version of a movie star. Gross Weltanschauung imitated art:

Ladies and gentlemen: the king of comedy!

And ...

Chaplin's companion and frequent co-star, Paulette Goddard. Seen here because she's insanely beautiful

Paulette again. Seen here because it's wrong not to include this still (also from Modern Times) when you've already put any other one up

Where was I.....?

Oh! If you can imagine Iggy Pop covering a Jet song you know the great weight in Chaplin's cover version of Hitler's cover version of the iconic lip grub here:

Irony? The best film of this icon of silent cinema is his first talkie (or shoutie, or preachie...): The Great Dictator

But then it was time to reconsider the lipgrub by making it distinctly non-Hitlerian:

Security means having your own floating nametag
After the war (Post-War II) the moustache was as popular as it had been after the first. There hadn't been a mo-ed president of the United States of A. since Teddy Roosevelt nor has there been since. Yea, through the great re-release of testosteronic overgrowth that was the 60s:

Robert Redford finds a name for his future film festival
... and the 70s:

"John Holmes And the Bawd of Censors"
... the 80s zipped back up and kept it clean:

Really, really, really clean
unless they were playing nostalgia:

This is from the Cotton Club, a highly entertaining take by Sofia Coppola's father on a lot of enduring social problems as encapsulated in the famous NYC night club. I couldn't just use the caption I wanted without this preface and the fact that the phrase that follows is the title from a real film of an earlier era starring Kirk Douglas: The Young Man With a Horn.
Which brings us pretty much up to date. The 90s revolution in facial hair generally incorporated some means of chin concealment and the lone mo was a thing o' the past. But there was this from 1991:

Two men in love with the same tiny cardboard cutout they call Zandalee.

So there you have it. ...... Look, it's Monday and I have a lot of uploading to do which leaves me a lot of time to tap this out between checks. And did you really expect this to be anything better than an extended plea for donations to my Movember effort? Come on!

Come aaaawwwwn!

It's true, though, you really can donate HERE.

Thank you, thank you for your kind attention.


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