Click to the next image to see our top ten movie hairdos
10. Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963)
Most people think eyes when they think of Taylor, but in this commercial flop it’s Taylor’s fringe that I’m most drawn to. Taylor’s awkwardly high, circular-cut bangs seem cribbed from seminal ’60s designer Rudi Gernreich’s muse, Peggy Moffitt, who was very popular in the year of the film’s release. While the raven-black bob is slamming, what takes it to top-ten level is the Jamaican-style braids adorned with a small fortune of gold beads and jewels. Because who besides a queen can get away with that? An honorable mention goes to Bo Derek in 10, released 16 years later. Not to be lazy, but Derek’s beachy minibraids just aren’t as regal.
9. Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Critics poked fun at the anachronisms when this film hit big, but one thing the crew got totally right was Redford’s hair. His shaggy, sideswept coif seems to be anticipating the longer hair of the approaching decade, and his mustache clearly has at least one foot planted on the set of a ’70s porn movie. Redford’s free-flowing mane telegraphs a nongendered sex appeal that the ’50s tried their best to erase. Bottom line: Taking a cue from Samson and embracing your locks is always hot—unless your name is Fabio.
8. Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus (1932)
Yes, Dietrich had gorgeous golden waves that were set in a fashion-forward bob. And she’s known for her Victor/Victoria gender-bending style, including slicked-back hair and top hat. But she looks the most ethereal (and feral, even) with this totally bonkers lamblike ’fro, impaled by crystal arrows. It seems to say, “I’ll eat you and your young, and you’ll enjoy it.” A bold statement for a woman to make in 1932—or any time.
7. Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (2007)
Can hair act? You better believe it. This toupee-like mop deserved an Oscar of its own. Bardem’s creepy bowl cut conjures gross, impotent words like soggy, floppy and limp. And yet it scares you, because only a crazy person would wear his hair like this. This is not a fashion statement, it’s a character, and a genius one at that. (Indeed, Bardem has said that he sometimes felt like his 'do was stealing his thunder.) But this wasn’t a Charlize Theron ugly-as-disguise gimmick; you believed the hair. Or thought it would kill you.
6. Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1929)
Can you say “Cabaret”? Brooks pioneered the bobbed hairstyle that become such a huge fad (and symbol of women’s lib) in the 1920s. In real life, Brooks loved to shock people with her daring, louche behavior. This film is no exception: In it she wears her signature ultrashort bob sleek and shiny. It feels incredibly contemporary. (Katie Holmes wishes her locks looked this good.) Also noteworthy: Pandora’s Box (which sounds like a porn flick) contains the first portrayal of a lesbian on film.
5. Pam Grier in Coffy (1973)
Coffy is “the baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town,” according to the poster—and that ain’t no lie. As a black female vigilante, Grier flips the script on the normally misogynist blaxploitation genre, reflected in her modest-but-still-political natural Afro. By not conforming to societal norms of what was feminine in 1973 (long, straight Marcia Brady hair), Grier became more powerful. Her sexy ’fro is just the tip of the iceberg; don’t even get me started on the cleavage.
4. Brigitte Bardot in Contempt (1963)
There’s not much left to say about Bardot—she was one hot babe. But in Contempt, Bardot taught me the power of blond hair. For a stretch here, she wears a black wig; while her curled lips and mean, pouty face are still interesting, she resembles Shirley from Laverne & Shirley. Without her bleached locks, she’s just not as electrifying. Once she steps back on the screen with that tousled blond mess (teased into a sex-kittenish bump and smoothed back by a then-trendy but now comically wide headband), your interest doubles, then triples. Bardot bucked the trend of neat, prim hair—a trick learned by recent It girls Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. Culturally, she made bed-head cool.
3. Diane Lane in Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981)
Sure, director Lou Adler didn’t anticipate the punk movement, but this movie—featuring a shockingly badass Diane Lane (and here I thought she was just acted in made-for-Mom romances)—is often cited as an inspiration by riot grrrls. As Corinne Burns, a recently orphaned musician, Lane transforms herself from a mousey-haired normalton into a snarly diva whose skunk-punk hairdo (bleached sides and jet-black bangs look like they’re courtesy of Edward Scissorhands) is emulated by thousands of female fans. It sounds freaky, but Lane manages to pull it off and look like a supercool provocateur who hangs out with Siouxsie Sioux, rather than just a clown.
2. Jane Fonda in Klute (1971)
Please don’t call it a mullet. This calculated, crisp shag resembles a feathered headdress more than it does the neck drape of Jeff Foxworthy fans. That is to say, it’s powerful, endowing the wearer with mystical potential; it’s a little bit Bowie, a little bit Native American chief. And that’s why this cut, first sported by Fonda in 1971, reappeared as the Williamsburg hipster hairstyle of choice in the early 2000s.
1. Jean Seberg in Breathless (1960)
Even Seberg’s horribly nasal voice (and bad French accent) can’t ruin this incredible haircut for me. Seberg’s androgynous chop still looks modern today and was fairly revolutionary in 1960. The texture of the cut is amazing, and the boyish, Dennis the Menace sticky-uppy bits have an endearing pixie/punkish magic. This cut has since defined gamine: Just see Michelle Williams and Audrey Tautou. An honorable mention goes to Mia Farrow’s chop by Vidal Sassoon for her role in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby. That cut is more iconic, but to me, Seberg’s look, shown eight years earlier, is more cutting-edge.