Would you be kind enough to give me your considered opinion concerning the interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentences?
Oh, yes. I know he’s thrilling and exciting and marvelous to look at, and has a way with him that would charm a duck off a pond. (D. Cusack)
He has brains., He’s personable. When he chooses, he has a way with him. (A. Cronin)
He was very good-looking and had a way with him. (N. Bell)
to have a way with one = to be charming, to have a way to approach to somebody
In my 'considered opinion', I would also add 'he has a way about him' to my list of similar expressions.
I would reserve 'he has a way with him' for situations that involve direct interaction with another person or animal. "That dog is usually vicious with strangers but, surprisingly, John appears to have a way with him.""The policeman is known as a tough cop but John has a way with him that allows us to perform our mischief without getting caught!" (There is interaction with a specific dog and a specific policeman)
"Oh, yes. I know he’s thrilling and exciting and marvelous to look at, and has a way about him that would charm a duck off a pond." (There is no specific duck in this instance.)
To me, there is ambiguity in this expression: "He was very good-looking and had a way with him." (Did his 'good looks' allow him to have his way with another male? Or, was he good looking and have a way about him that made others take notice of him?
Knowing the contents of the mentioned blow link, in defiance of reason, I insist of my more moderate interpretation of the expression in question (to be charming, to have a way of approach to somebody).