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Director Richard Lester strikes the perfect balance between slapstick and swashbuckling swordplay in this whimsical adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's grand adventure. Michael York, all innocence and wide-eyed chivalry as young D'Artagnan, makes quite an impression on his first day in Paris: he challenges all three of the legendary Musketeers to a duel, then joins them in arms against the cardinal's soldiers. The worldly rascals, led by Athos (Oliver Reed), who hides his brooding past behind a sarcastic wit, adopt the young hero. Soon D'Artagnan is stealing hearts and stealing food with equal aplomb as he joins their campaign to defend the queen (Geraldine Chaplin) against a plot devised by the scheming cardinal (Charlton Heston) and his cold-hearted accomplice Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway). Richard Chamberlain's Aramis, the trio's Don Juan and resident man of God, and Frank Finlay's fun-loving hedonist Porthos round out the Musketeers, while Christopher Lee's sneering Rochefort executes the cardinal's wishes as commander of the church's soldiers. Other members of this talented cast include Raquel Welch as the beautiful but disaster-prone seamstress to the queen, Spike Milligan as the beauty's jealous husband, Roy Kinnear as D'Artagnan's bumbling servant, Planchet, and Jean-Pierre Cassel as the clueless king. George MacDonald Fraser's rollicking screenplay combines boisterous adventure and roguish humor with marvelous characters, and Lester's dynamic direction turns it into one of the greatest comic swashbucklers of all time. Followed by The Four Musketeers, which continues the story in a darker vein. --Sean Axmaker
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Some viewers may be turned off by the amount of slapstick humor in The Three Musketeers. I suggest you watch The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge. This is a continuation of the same book, not a sequel, and it takes a much more serious tone, perhaps because the book becomes more serious after the affair of the diamond studs. Anyway, I found the slapstick surprisingly appropriate for the historical context. This was a ridiculous time in history. Men fought duels over the slightest perceived offence. Protecting the Queen's honor was far more important than the Queen's behaving honorably in the first place. The ruling class was amazingly out of touch with their country's problems. Casual cruelty was shown toward servants and peasants. Watch this movie and you'll understand why France had to have a revolution.
This movie follows the story as written by Alexander Dumas closer than any of the musketeer movie ever made. Sure, there are some obvious Hollywood liberties taken during the story process, but by far and large the content is there from the book.
What I loved the most: The costumes, the scenery, the authentic swordplay, and of course seeing the musketeers come alive on my big screen TV. If you can, look for The Four Musketeers, as that movie of the same cast completes the story as told in the novel, The Three Musketeers. The filmmakers had to split the movie into two separate features because the duration of a single film would have been too long for movie-goers.
by Linda Cargill, author of The Key to Lawrence