14 June 2024

Film Review: The Three Musketeers (1973) + The Four Musketeers (1974)

There have been many versions of The Three Musketeers over the years from the gloriously technicolour adaptation from 1948 starring Gene Kelly and Vincent Price to the partial brat pack reunion in the Nineties. There was even a Disneyfied version and there’s currently a big budget French version on the way. However, for those of a certain age there was only Richard Lester’s double bill of The Three and Four Musketeers that followed a year later.

Filmed back to back, they became the example of how to put The Musketeers on the big screen and how to do it right. As the story goes, D’Artagnan (Michael York) wants nothing more than to be a Musketeer. Having been trained by his father, he sets off to Paris to fulfil his dreams, but due to a series of misunderstandings he finds himself faced with duelling Athos (Oliver Reed), Aramis (Richard Chamberlain) and Porthos (Frank Finlay) who all just happen to be good friends. When they realise their young protégé’s mistake, they join forces to fend off the Cardinal’s guards and bond over women, wine and food.

For the first time in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Three Musketeers, 4K editions are on the way which makes it look as good now as when it was first released.

Films known for their elaborate costumes, exciting action set pieces and a look into the rich aristocracy with their excessive devices which border on steampunk, The Three Musketeers and its sequel gave Alexander Dumas’ story a fresh coat of paint.

However, time has passed and of course being made in the Seventies it does show its age. The first film being closer to a sex comedy than a true retelling of the original story may be a crowd pleaser, but besides some admittedly funny moments, it may not have aged all that well.

The Four Musketeers though must have been the reason why it attracted so many big stars as it’s subtitle, ‘M’Lady’s Revenge’ suggests, it gives more for Faye Dunaway and Charlton Heston’s Cardinal Richelieu to do.

Coming with interviews and even a behind the scenes documentary made at the time of the movie’s release, fans of the movies will love the nostalgia as well as maybe realise how it influenced future action blockbusters. Best viewed as a double bill, there may not have been such a colourful and creative adaptation since.

Action, Adventure | UK, 1973, 1974 | 12 | 8th May 2023 (UK) | 4K, Blu-Ray | Studiocanal | Dir. Richard Lester | Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlin, Raquel Welch, Michael York, Christopher Lee


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