Going clean-shaven seems to be the modern masculine default, in accordance with our contemporary aesthetic, but there are still a fair number of chaps sporting facial hair, often in the form of goatees, soul patches, or even “full-on” beards. What is much less common nowadays than in previous eras is the stand-alone moustache, especially in its thinnest version.
Adding facial hair to a cinematic character is often used to “age” them during the course of a film: this alteration of the visage serves as an indicator of an increase in years, and presumably maturity as well. The addition of a pencil moustache, however, tends rather to evoke a bygone era, whether it be the 17th century, the Victorian period, or the ’20s / ’30s / ’40s.
Here is an array of pencil-‘stached gents, both “vintage” and modern….
Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood
Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk
Richard Todd in (and on the set of) The Sword and the Rose
Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia
Basil Rathbone in The Mark of Zorro
Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind
Claude Raines in Casablanca
Jude Law (as Errol Flynn) in The Aviator
Vincent Perez in Cyrano de Bergerac
Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
Gary Carr in Downton Abbey
George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou
Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride
David Thewlis in Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Rupert Friend in The Young Victoria