By Jim Gibbons
Each year during the month of November, men grow mustaches to help raise cancer-fighting funds for the Livestrong and Prostate Cancer Foundations. It’s a month-long effort to change the face of men’s health called Movember. As the sound of ’staches sprouting worldwide sends a manly signal across the globe, one begins to compulsively contemplate the many amazing mustaches men have sported in movies throughout the years.
Let’s begin with a look at a popular film profession well known for its prowess in the proud mustache tradition: Police officers!
Danny Glover as Roger Murtaugh in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise
Roger Murtaugh was a solid cop for years, but when he began his 50th birthday by shaving his beard into a mustache, he went from being a good cop getting the job done to an exceptional lawman taking down drug cartels and Asian mob operations. Murtaugh’s ’stache was “too old for this s—” in the first “Lethal Weapon” but kept kicking and kicking ass for three more films. Most would claim his partner Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) was a bigger key to his success, but don’t overlook his other constant companion: the mustache.
Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon in “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”
The mustachioed Jim Gordon came up through the ranks in the mob-heavy, corruption-filled cops and crooks culture of Gotham City. One of the few clean cops—evident not just by his actions but by his trustworthy ’stache—Gordon befriended the Batman, helped save Gotham from destruction at the hands of Ra’s Al Ghul, faced off with the Joker and lived to tell the tale. And he was promoted to Commissioner in the process. A ’stache-less man might have gone Andy Griffith, shaved his mo and headed for the country, but not Jim Gordon.
Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell in “Die Hard” and “Die Hard 2″
Sure he started as a fat cop casually patrolling his beat while wolfing down snack cakes, but he saved John McClane’s life and ensured we’d be able to enjoy three (possibly four?) more “Die Hard” films. A cool head in hot situations, Powell’s voice breezing through the whiskers of his sturdy mustache into a walkie-talkie steadied McClane in a sticky situation at Nakatomi Tower and assuredly helped to steady his hand when he needed to take down a crazed, machine gun-wielding psycho. And, on a non-fictional note, Reginald VelJohnson’s mighty mustache performance as Powell paved the way for one of TV’s most steadfast cop-stache’s, Carl Winslow’s fuzzy caterpillar of “Family Matters” fame!
Seth Rogen as Officer Michaels in “Superbad”
Sporting a thin Hulk Hogan-style horseshoe of face fuzz, Officer Michaels may not have been a great cop—hell, he may not have even been a good cop—but he made all the difference for one young McLovin and sometimes that’s what really matters. He may have made light of the earnest business of law enforcement, but he sure was serious about that ’stache.
Eddie Murphy as Detective Axel Foley in the “Beverly Hill Cop” trilogy
Even considering tough competition like Rogen’s Officer Michaels, Axel Foley is arguably the funniest mustache-sporting cop to grace the silver screen. However, even Hightower fans can’t argue against Axel F’s claim to the best cop-’stache theme music in the history of film. Perhaps drawing on the powerful detective ’stache skills of fellow Detroit sports fan Magnum P.I., Foley’s mo was as steadfast an accessory as his Lions jacket and, along with his laugh-inducing investigative methods, helped him take down murderers and counterfeiters miles away from his home in the Motor City.
Bruce Willis as Detective Jack Mosley in “16 Blocks”
Bruce Willis is known for playing bad ass cops like McClane, but when he harnessed the power of the mustache to play drunk, down-and-out detective Jack Mosley, he still managed to make paunchy old investigators seem tough as nails. Now, maybe he managed bad ass status through his heroic actions as he saved a cake baking witness from death at the hands of corrupt cops, but I think the classic cop-’stache certainly helped pull it off!
Jim Gibbons is an assistant editor at Dark Horse Comics and a third year Movember participant. You can follow his mustache growth progress and donate to his Movember efforts at http://mobro.co/jimgibbons, and follow him on Twitter at @EnemyOfPeanuts.