The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

Synopsis of Movie

There’s never been a shortage of Three Musketeers movies. Dramatic, slapstick, musical, serious swashbuckler, tongue-in-cheek swashbuckler…there hasn’t been a shortage of variety either.

There were serials in 1933, a straightforward drama in 1935, a musical version in 1939 that found Don Ameche as the new musketeer D’Artagnan, and a 1948 costumer that found sword-fighting (but not singing) Gene Kelly as D'Artagnan and lavishly-gowned Lana Turner as Lady DeWinter.

But in 1973, one big Musketeers epic was shot by A Hard Day’s Night director Richard Lester (who conceived of the project originally as a vehicle for The Beatles). When Lester and 20th Century Fox realized there was enough material for two films, two were released—first The Three Musketeers, and then eight months later The Four Musketeers. The actors claimed they were tricked and only paid for one movie—probably not what Alexander Dumas meant with his “all for one, one for all” dictum—and took director Lester to court.

But let’s not have a lawsuit ruin our fun. The classic story, set in 1600’s Renaissance France, features young, enthusiastic country boy D’Artagnan, who wants to be a musketeer. He rubs the famous swordsmen the wrong way at first, but the wise Athos, paunchy Porthos and courtly Aramis take him in. They toil against venal Cardinal Richelieu, and his cohorts Milady and snooty Rochefort.

They have to protect the Queen’s honor, you see – she’s having a secret affair with her true love, the Duke of Buckingham. Richelieu wants the affair exposed and the Queen bounced off her throne. It’s serious work of course, but not serious enough to keep D’Artagnan from finding a true love of his own in the form of Constance, the Queen’s clumsy but beguiling handmaiden (Raquel Welch is always beguiling).

For all the swordfighting that ensues, Lester does his best to put a new spin on each skirmish. There are taverns and windmills and castles with fireworks, and when there are no swords, our heroes resort comedically and impressively to other things, like wet laundry.

In The Four Musketeers’s wicked Milady DeWinter goes after the boys for foiling her plans in the first movie – she was trying to de-throne the Queen of France. But when the quadruple threat learns of her maneuverings, they quickly ride in to save the day.

There was more action in the second film, but sadly, less Raquel Welch and fewer chuckles. With these strikes against it, Four didn’t fare as well as Three, box-office-wise. Lester re-assembled much of his Musketeer cast for 1989’s The Return of the Musketeers, though by this late date audiences' tastes for swords and costumes had waned a bit.

20th Century Fox abandoned the franchise after The Return of the Musketeers, but the swordsmen lived on in later films like a 1993 Disney-produced The Three Musketeers and 1998's The Man in the Iron Mask.

Movie Release History

1973 - The Three Musketeers

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Movie Studio

20th Century Fox


Athos  Oliver Reed
Madame Bonancieux   Raquel Welch
Aramis  Richard Chamberlain
D'Artagnan  Michael York
Porthos/O'Reilly  Frank Finlay
Rochefort  Christopher Lee
Anna of Austria  Geraldine Chaplin
Louis XIII  Jean-Pierre Cassel
M. Bonancieux  Spike Milligan
Planchet Roy Kinnear
Treville Georges Wilson
Duke of Buckingham  Simon Ward
Milady de Winter  Faye Dunaway
Cardinal Richelieu  Charlton Heston
D'Artagnan's Father  Joss Ackland
Kitty  Nicole Calfan
Felton  Michael Gothard
Eugenie  Sybil Danning
Beatrice  Gitty Djamal
Jussac  angel del Pozo
Spy  Rodney Bewes
1st Musketeer  Ben Aris
Assassin  William Hobbs
D'Artagnan's Mother  Gretchen Franklin
Sea Captain  Francis De Wolff
Man in small carriage  Frank Thornton

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