Scholars, sophisticates, sharp-looking bastards; we select film and television’s 13 greatest gentlemen
The gentleman thief always makes for a charismatic screen character – add in Cary Grant and the film practically needs an advisory warning for scenes of gratuitous suaveness. Sartorially blessed and oozing class, Grant’s retired cat burglar has to clear his name after jewellery is stolen from wealthy tourists on the French Riviera in Hitchcock’s classic thriller – while also, of course, finding time to woo love interest Grace Kelly.
Armed with excellent suits, Ryan Gosling’s lothario had more than a few tricks to hand to Steve Carell’s hapless singleton. His top tip? Don’t wear New Balance sneakers. Deep burn.
Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence appears lazy and insanely driven, establishment yet rebellious, softly spoken yet crystal clear. And he managed to look dignified on a camel.
If Robin Hood is your selfless man of the people, Roger Moore’s Templar is a champagne socialist; a gentleman thief who gives back, but has a sports car.
Christopher Lee as the ultimate embodiment of the enticingly dangerous gentleman: magnetic like a filthy burger or your ex’s phone number at 1am, just classier.
If the sign of a true gentleman is the ability to swear with panache, then Gustave is top of this classy tree. Ralph Fiennes’ clipped fucks and buggers are like naughty sequins on an evening jacket of a personality, woven from the finest silk. Even his carnal lust for octogenarian women is dignified. The hotel is grand, but not as grand as Gustave.
Parisian poet Cyrano is such a generous and romantic man that he writes love letters to his love interest – signed by another one of her suitors. Gérard Depardieu’s depiction has Gallic charm aplenty.
He’s the Sixties’ other British super spy. But whereas Bond spent most of his time glugging vodka martinis at casino bars with a girl in tow, Michael Caine’s bespectacled cockney spook was just as cool immersing himself in the grey, humdrum reality of British intelligence. And he rocks a decent suit too.
Harvey Keitel’s tuxedoed and perfectly slicked-back professional fixer had to clean up the mess Vincent Vega made. A problem solver with an emphasis on punctuality, just don’t ask him to say “please”. Or turn down an insurance ad.
Errol Flynn’s Hood is quite a modern day hero. He can look after himself, he’s well-bred and he’s charming – his eyebrows alone could disarm a pub brawl.
This list could easily be called ‘The Greatest David Nivens’, so synonymous is that name with gentlemen characters. From officer-class types, to raffish or romantic charmers (a role he reputedly stayed in off-camera), to somehow creating the most gentlemanly of James Bonds in the spoofish Casino Royale. But he gets in for his gentleman thief and Clouseau-tormentor, Sir Charles Lytton, AKA the Phantom – a man with a moustache that is so splendidly groomed you’re not sure it’s even there.
Kyle MacLachlan’s well-groomed Fed doesn’t so much investigate the murder of Laura Palmer as go on an all-out charm offensive.
With a cigar in one hand and an uncorked bottle of champagne in the other, Paul Whitehouse’s aristocratic scoundrel is typically found outside any number of ladies’ residencies at the dead of night – be that alone with his best friend’s wife, in a sixth-form girls’ dormitory or even a mortuary. What he gets up to, who knows, but with his reputation...