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5.0 out of 5 stars The Man in the Iron Mask (1977), October 26, 2007
This review is from: The Man in the Iron Mask (Full Length. 102 Minutes. Delux Cardboard Case. Richard Chamberlain, Patrick McGoohan, Louis Jourdan) (DVD)
The Man in the Iron Mask (1977)

Richard Chamberlain .... King Louis XIV/Philippe
Patrick McGoohan .... Fouquet
Louis Jourdan .... D'Artagnan
Jenny Agutter .... Louise de la Vallière
Ian Holm .... Duval
Ralph Richardson .... Colbert de Voliere
Vivien Merchant .... Queen Maria Theresa
Brenda Bruce .... Queen Anna of Austria
Esmond Knight .... Armand
Godfrey Quigley .... Baisemeaux
Emrys James .... Percerin
Denis Lawson .... Claude
Ann Zelda .... Henriette
Hugh Fraser .... Montfleury
Stacy Davis .... Blacksmith

Richard Chamberlain heads an internationally famed cast in this extravagant compelling production of Alexander Dumas classic.
In the tour de force of great acting, Richard Chamberlain plays the dual role of the imprisoned man in the hideous iron mask and his foppish, elegant twin brother, King Louis XIV of France. This performance supported by an all-star cast, sweeps the story of high adventure and romance and new heights.

In 1661, France stirs restlessly under the rule of the ineffectual King Louis XIV, a weak monarch manipulated by the devious Nicolas Fouquet, his finance minister who virtually held the string of power. However, Captain of the Musketeers D' Artagnan and Home Affairs Minister Cobert are determined that France shall have a real King. They have found Louis' identical twin brother Phillipe and plan to put him on the throne. Rightful heir to the throne, he is spirited away from birth for political motives and is ignorant of his identity. D'Artagnan and Colbert have had him taken to a cell for safety.

Duval, Fouquet's henchman, visits the Bastille with Louise de La Vallière , whose father Armand has been imprisoned.
When Louise sees Armand he tells of the young man in the next cell who has given him half of his water ration. Louise sees Phillipe and is struck by the resemblance. Their eyes meet end they are attracted to each other. However, Duval also sees Phillipe and hurries off to tell Fouquet. Fouquet tells the King who shuns from having his brother slain. Instead he orders him to be taken for eternal imprisonment, and so that no one will ever see him, an iron mask I to be clamped upon his face. Phillipe be wildered is taken to the prison and riveted into the mask. D'Artagnan is informed of Phillipe's imprisonment and sets off to free Phillipe. Fouquet, aware of D'Artagnan's plans to free Phillipe, is waiting to foil the escape.

D'Artagnan dons the mask himself and leads Fouquet and his men away from Phillipe on a wild goose chase which ends with D'Artagnan falling into the see from a rocky cliff. Desperately D'Artagnan tries to free himself of the mask and succeeds only at the last minute. Fouquet believes the man he has seen fall into the see to be Phillipe and returned to tell the King.

Phillipe no aware of his true identity and educated in the ways of royalty agrees to D'Artagnan's and Colbert plans to substitute him for Louis. Phillipe is to attend the King's ball dressed in a costume identical to King Louis' except for a different color sash. Information has been leaked to Fouquet that there is a plot to substitute the king and the imposter will be wearing a purple sash.

But Louis is wearing the purple sash and is arrested by Fouquet and sentenced to the same fate he once decreed for his brother. As Louis' face is enclosed in the iron mask, he hears the instruction given to the guards: "When one day his food remains uneaten, you will provide mortar and bricks and seal the entry to this cell." "Send word to Paris only, that the Man In The Iron Mask lives no more."

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, is the most exciting of the Alexander Dumas classics. The multi-talented Richard Chamberlain, gave one of his finest performances playing dual roles - King Louis XIV and Philippe, twin brothers with totally different identities and destinies. Chamberlain showed his dazzling acting range, portraying the evil, mean-spirited, cruel Louis, who is absorbed by his own pleasures; while simultaneously portraying his kind and generous twin brother, Philippe, who has been hidden away in prison, encased in a miserable iron mask. The tall, lean, actor is ideally suited to play royalty, with his regal bearing, commanding voice, and ability to wear with dignity, the lavish royal period costumes, with their ruffles, wigs, capes, and plumes.

The actor's tour de force comes in the movies climactic scenes, when Philippe must pretend to be Louis. He was brilliant, playing a character who must act like another character, when he himself has created both characters. The actor's beautiful face, should never be hidden behind a mask of any kind, for Chamberlain makes full use of his facial expressions to grip our emotions, when he first meets his Queen Mother. The face bespeaks the tragedy he has suffered; in his eyes, we see the loss, regret, and deep despair. This emotionally charged scene is delivered powerfully by the savvy and classy actor, bringing his audience to tears as they behold his deep sorrow. This great story held me captive and spellbound as the cast of fine actors, led by the great wizard of enchantment, Richard Chamberlain worked their magic.

As this classic thriller reaches its climax, one brother will ascend to the throne, the other will be imprisoned for life. One is calculating and cruel, the other a gentle and generous jewel ......which one will rule?
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 27, 2012 8:29:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 8:32:26 PM PST
Having read the book, I did not need a semi-literate precis -- Alexandre Dumas' legacy is under no threat from this reviewer's writing. I was, however, looking for a thoughtful review of the TV miniseries. I got none of that. As a review, it is worthless. As a love letter to Richard Chamberlain I suppose it works.
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