Top 5 Fops in Historical Costume Movies

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Let’s give it up for the ponciest, flounciest, and prissiest of characters in historical costume movies: foppish boys! I counted down my honorary mentions and top 6-10 fops last Friday, now let’s go to the best of the best:

 

#5: Richard Cosway in Jefferson in Paris (1995)

I’m not positive why Simon Callow as Richard Cosway kills me so much in Merchant/Ivory‘s Jefferson in Paris. It’s partially the wig and makeup, but it’s even more Simon fickin’ Callow, who can ponce with the best of them! So he’s a cockblocker, he looks great doing it…

Jefferson in Paris (1995)

I don’t know what you’re expecting to find in your wife’s dress, Cosway, but I don’t think it’s what you really want…

Jefferson in Paris (1995)

Why watch the opera when you can watch the people?

Jefferson in Paris (1995)

Always the doting spouse!

Jefferson in Paris (1995)

With a firm grasp of politics…

 

#4: The Prince of Wales in Blackadder the Third (1987)

Blackadder, in all its iterations, has had many fops, but no season is foppier than the 18th century-set one (Blackadder the Third):

Blackadder the Third (1987)

Sir Talbot Buxomly MP, whose policies include “flogging servants, shooting poor people, and the extension of slavery to anyone who hasn’t got a knighthood.”

Blackadder the Third (1987)

Lord Topper and Lord Smedley, who say things like “Tish and pish! Gadzooks! Milarky!”

Blackadder the Third (1987)

Lord Smedley

Blackadder the Third (1987)

But who dress up as the Comte de Frou-Frou — who turns out to be the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Blackadder the Third (1987)

The actors, who every time someone mentions the name of the play Macbeth, have to do a little ritual involving saying “Hot potato, orchestra stalls, Puck will make amends!”

But none of them can match the MAD GENIUS of Hugh Laurie as the Prince of Wales. Okay, so I’ve raved about this version of Prinny before. It doesn’t matter. Laurie’s Prince of Wales is the foppiest, airhead-iest, ditziest, flounciest man in Regency England!

Blackadder the Third (1987)

First of all, he’s obsessed with “enormous trousers.”

Blackadder the Third (1987)

Secondly, he’s got Blackadder there to make cutting remarks about him.

Blackadder the Third (1987)

He’s great with the lay-deeze…

Blackadder the Third (1987)

Okay scratch that…

Blackadder the Third (1987)

He knows what turns a girl on!

Blackadder the Third (1987)

I mean, who can resist?

 

#3: Lord Arthur Goring in An Ideal Husband (1999)

Oh, Rupert Everett as Lord Goring. SIGH. So dapper. So perfectly turned out at every moment. So god-damned witty! Yeah, pair a hot, talented actor, sharp suits, and Oscar Wilde’s genius writing, and you’ve got the fop you really really want to shag.

And yes, you may want to split hairs about a “dandy” vs. a “fop.” I guess they are different, but I’m still including Everett/Goring in my list. BECAUSE I WANT TO.

An Ideal Husband (1999)

“Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear. Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.”

An Ideal Husband (1999)

“I love talking about nothing, Father. It’s the only thing I know anything about.”

An Ideal Husband (1999)

“I mean that I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday of every month. Between noon and three.” Also, YES PLEASE.

An Ideal Husband (1999)

Oh god, I want to lick the starch off of his collar…

 

#2: Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

It’s probably going to be a fight-to-the-death about whether I’m right to put the fabulous Sir Percy in at number 2 and not number 1. Sir Percy Blakeney is, of course, the foppiest, prissiest, flounciest fop EVER as a disguise for his real identity as a badass spy known as The Scarlet Pimpernel. And, of course, there’s been multiple versions of this story, and you may be team Leslie Howard (don’t hate me, but I haven’t seen that version yet so I can’t compare!) or Richard E. Grant (who, in my opinion, pales in comparison).

Anyway, Anthony Andrews just about killed me with his take on Sir Percy. He flounces. He gesticulates. He gets prissy. He fluffs his lace and prances around and then suddenly, WHOMP, he’s all badass and capable and hot.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

“Sink me, your highness, it was this damned cravat. Simply refused to tie. I ask you. Sticking out like a pincushion.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

I mean, CHECK OUT THAT COLLAR.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Not a thread or hair out of place.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

And that SMIRK.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

 

#1: The Duc d’Orléans in Marie Antoinette (1938)

I’m sorry guys, but the Joseph Schildkraut as the duc d’Orléans just takes the cake for me with THAT HAIR and THAT MAKEUP. Gaaaaaaahhhhhh! So he’s really evil, and plotting against you, and would compromise you in an instant! LOOK AT THOSE PINCURLS!! THE 1930S PENCIL BROWS!!! THE CUPID’S BOW LIPS!!!!!

Marie Antoinette (1938)

Admit it. He has better hair than you.

Marie Antoinette (1938)

On the left, out-fopping all the other hangers-on.

Marie Antoinette (1938)

SO PERFECT from the neck up. So hilariously hairy on the arms!

Marie Antoinette (1938)

Oh those shiny, shiny breeches…

Marie Antoinette (1938)

If you’re going to make an entrance, you need good arm candy.

Marie Antoinette (1938)

But yeah, he’s an ass.

 

Okay, let’s do this. Are you going to kill me over Leslie Howard? Who else did I forget?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

22 Responses

  1. MoHub

    Shame, shame, shame on you! Leslie Howard’s Lord Percy is the crème de la crème of film fops, and I will brook no argument with that. Andrews isn’t even close.

    And Drawlight in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a definite contender.

    However—thank you, thank you for the Blackadder the Third collection, which makes it all worthwhile.

    Reply
  2. Charity

    Andrews is, hands down, my favorite Percy. Nobody else comes close. (Sorry, Howard fans! He was great! But Andrews made me and my mother laugh so hard the first time we saw it, we had to rewind portions of the dialogue, since we couldn’t hear it for our undignified chortling. I wanted to introduce the movie to a friend of mine recently, who looked at the cover and said, “That looks dull.” Oh, poor woman. She’ll learn, in time.)

    I’ve never seen the #1 but lawdy, the duc d’Orléans deserves the top spot on looks alone. I don’t know whether to laugh or be disturbed.

    Arthur Goring… mmmm! Love that movie. I admit, I watched it mostly the first time for Jeremy Northam — and came away a fan of everybody, especially Oscar Wilde.

    “Lord Goring, you are speaking QUITE seriously!”
    “Oh, I am sorry!”
    “No! I like you to be serious!”

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola

    I loved Antony Andrew’s Lord Percy. He was seriously foppy and intelligence behind the fop. Colour, too. So possibly for that reason the version beats the Leslie Howard one. ‘Is he in heaven…That demned elusive Pimpernel’

    My 2ND is Lord Goring played by Rupert Everett. With Wilde, you cannot loose. Also liked Importance of Being Ernest (Dame Judi one)

    My 3rd is Blackadder III, Hugh Laurie’s Prinny has me ROTFLI and rewinding.

    BTW. Stephen Fry did a nonfrock series called Kingdom. Very good.

    Reply
  4. Branwen Frost

    If only Lord Akeldama had a screen appearence. The man speaks in italics.

    Reply
  5. Kelly O'C

    Can I put in a bid for Julian Orchard as the cousin in The Slipper and the Rose? Effortlessly breezy entrances, he dances beautifully in high heels, and is a main purveyor of witticisms. Much as I love Chamberlain as the prince, he does seem a bit staid next to the excellence of Lord Montague’s foppery.
    And though I totally agree on the odd costume choices for the 1999 Scarlet Pimpernel (it looks as if Elizabeth McGovern was simply allowed not to wear a corset, and she looks frumpy amid the bevy of correctly-undergarmented beauties), Richard E. Grant is fabulous. With a devastating smile, he puts Chauvelin (whose cravat looks as if he just rolled out of bed) in his place with the epigram, “Only a cravat? A cravat, sir, is the apotheosis of neckwear!”

    Reply

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