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 History1973 - The Three Musketeers
Movie Sub Categorieslive-action
Movie Studio20th Century Fox
CastAthos 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