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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Three Musketeers (1973)

A young man (Michael York) arrives in 17th century Paris with the hopes of becoming part of the King's Musketeers. It doesn't take long before he becomes involved in royal politics and scandals when the ambitious Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) attempts to use the illicit love affair between Queen Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) and the Duke Of Buckingham (Simon Ward) as an excuse for war against England. One of the most filmed books, this is at least the 12th adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel and dare I say it, the best? The screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser and the director Richard Lester are faithful to the novel but infuse the film with generous amounts of humor. The film easily works on two levels, a rollicking comedy as well as a dashing adventure. The humor is often subtle to the point of throwaways that might easily slip by. Example: a background actor might mumble something quite amusing but its not the focus of the scene. And what a dream cast! Oliver Reed as Athos, Faye Dunaway as the wicked Miady, Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, Raquel Welch as Constance, Christopher Lee as De Rochefort, Jean Pierre Cassel as Louis XIII. Since they filmed the entire novel, they split it into two films. This one ends with D'Artagnan becoming a musketeer and the second half of the novel was released a year later as THE FOUR MUSKETEERS. The beauty of a score, a personal favorite, is by Michel Legrand. With Roy Kinnear, Spike Milligan and Sybil Danning.

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