The Complete Musketeers (1973-74) – DVD Review

The Complete Three Musketeers

Film:
DVD:

Written by: George MacDonald Fraser, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Directed by: Richard Lester
Starring: Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Frank Finlay, Christopher Lee, Geraldine Chaplin, Faye Dunaway, and Charlton Heston

Features:

  • The Saga of the Musketeers Featurettes
  • The Making of “The Three Musketeers”
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots

Released by: Anchor Bay
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: 1.77:1

My Advice: Own it

In The Three Musketeers, young D’Artagnan (York) has left home to become one of the King’s famous Musketeers. The only advice that his father gives him upon leaving is to get into as many duels as he can to gain a reputation for himself as a swordsman. It just so happens that the first three men he challenges to a duel are Athos, Porthos, and Aramis (Reed, Finlay, and Chamberlain, respectively), who just happen to be three of the very same Musketeers. He soon finds himself in their good graces and joins them on their adventures to save the Queen’s reputation by hiding her love affair with the Duke of Buckingham of England (Simon Ward). Cardinal Richelieu (Heston) is trying to pit the King and Queen (Jean-Pierre Cassel and Chaplin) against each other in order to increase his own power as the new ruler of France.

Okay. I’m going to come right out and admit that I’ve never read the book. However, after seeing this movie, I’m going to. This script is very well written. York and company are hilarious. Heston is as dry as ever, but his dry wit adds exactly what this script calls for. The Musketeers are all equally perfect. Every single one of them has just enough swash in their buckle, but with just the perfect amount of sarcastic wit of their own to make the movie an absolute riot. I think that Welch surprised all of her naysayers with her role in this movie. She is equal parts stunning beauty and bumbling idiot, all of which makes for an infinitely charming character. She and York have a very believable relationship and the sensuality soars in all directions. If there is a weakness to this movie, it’s Chaplin, who could not be more two-dimensional in her role as the Queen. She did nothing to help with plot of the love affair with the Duke of Buckingham and their relationship is as flat as a medieval globe. It also occurs to me that I have neglected to mention one of the other stars of these movies: Christopher Lee, who is equally as elegant as Rochefort. Both he and York and he and Heston have amazing relationships in this movie.

Michael York as D'Artagnan in The Complete Musketeers

In the follow-up, The Four Musketeers, they’ve finally given D’Artagnan a Musketeer’s tunic and he’s able to fight with pride alongside his friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. However, Richelieu is still trying to grab all the power in Franch with the same ploy as before: pitting the King against the Queen. He does so by using Milady di Winter (Dunaway) to kidnap and hold D’Artagnan’s love, Constance (Welch). D’Artagnan and the boys finally rescue her, but realize that there’s more at stake than just the love of their friend. Their King’s power is in danger as well.

This movie is a sequel by the purest definition of the word. It picks up exactly where the first movie leaves off and jumps into the action without any delay. All of the cast return for this movie and continue in their roles with the same amount of gusto as they did before. The plot gets a little thicker in this one and there are not as many pratfalls and hijinx as there were the first go-round, but it is none the worse because of it. They are really two parts of the same whole and almost demand to be treated that way. Welch doesn’t really play that large a part in this one, even though her character dominates most of the story line. She is hidden away most of the movie, and there’s really not anyone to fill the void. Dunaway is amazing, but her character is so heavy that the difference is considerable. However, when Welch is on the screen, she is perfection. The rest of the cast do not lose any of the potency between the two movies and their characters are solid all the way through.

Oliver Reed from The Complete Musketeers

This DVD double-set is simply elegant. They do not waste any space on these discs with boring bonus material. The “making of” featurettes are both wonderful. They are packed with interviews with almost every cast member who is still with us as well as the producers. The first one, The Saga of the Musketeers is broken into two parts and spans both discs. Each portion is about twenty mintues long and although that doesn’t sound like much, it’s packed full of goodness. The other one is simply called The Making of the The Three Musketeers. It only appears on the first disc, but it covers both films. The only thing that this DVD is missing is a commentary track by someone involved. Lee gives an amazing interview and it really leaves you begging for them to get him into the studio to record such a track. Also, given the relatively recent news of Heston’s fight with Alzheimer’s Disease, they should be beating down his doors to get him to record something for this movie (not to mention the other films that he has done). It is obvious that the cast had a great time making this movie, so you would think that it would be easy to get them back together to put something down on tape (or CD or DAT or whatever).

In short, these should not be missed and should be on the shelf of everyone who calls themselves a fan of the cinema.

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By | 2009-01-11T21:36:50+00:00 February 24th, 2003|DVD, Reviews|0 Comments

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