Grizzled American private detective in England investigates a complicated case of blackmail turned murder involving a rich but honest elderly general, his two loose socialite daughters, a pornographer and a gangster.
The young D'Artagnan (Michael York) arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a King's Musketeer. He meets and quarrels with three men, Athos (Oliver Reed), Porthos (Frank Finlay), and Aramis (Richard Chamberlain), each of whom challenges him to a duel. D'Artagnan finds out they are Musketeers and is invited to join them in their efforts to oppose Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston), who wishes to increase his already considerable power over King Louis XIII (Jean-Pierre Cassel). D'Artagnan must also juggle affairs with the charming Constance Bonancieux (Raquel Welch) and the passionate Lady De Winter (Faye Dunaway), a secret agent for the Cardinal.Written by
Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>
greatest cast ever assembled to tell this great tale
Richard Lester did what no one before or since has been able to do: tell Dumas' story as magnificently as it deserves to be told. This tale gets told again and again in Hollywood, but leave it to a European to do it right. The cinematography, sets, and costumes are all fantastic, but they aren't all clean and impossibly perfect like the 1948 Gene Kelly or 1993 Kiefer Sutherland versions. Lester infuses this familiar story with an energy and tone that made his work with the Beatles successful. Yes, "The Three Musketeers" is an intriguing adventure, but the humor in their friendship, that's what draws me in again and again. And what an amazing cast he had to work with: all the Musketeers are perfect, especially big Oliver Reed, who can be silly, witty, and scary all in the same scene. The supporting cast is full of great actors, including Charlton Heston (having fun at being evil here), Christopher Lee (gets to mix deadpan humor in with his menace), Raquel Welch (cast as beautiful but clumsy, really enabling her to be a character and not just a live mannequin), Spike Milligan (doing what he does best), and most wonderfully Faye Dunaway (seductively evil: my favorite kind!). And, of course, holding it all together as D'Artagnan is Michael York, who never found a greater role.
Besides handling the shifts in tone well, Richard Lester also had the great rare luxury of breaking Dumas' large novel into two seperate movies which he filmed simultaneously. This really allows for greater character development and a truly epic scale. All of the other film versions try to cram all of that plot into 120 minutes. Not only is it impossible (in the 1993 version they simply change it completely using only the basic idea of Dumas' book), but it makes this huge complicated story with many threads seem contrived and ridiculous (the 1948 version has such dramatic and sudden shifts of tone - from wacky comedy, to romance, to heavy drama - that it can confuse and lose the audience).
This is great moviemaking.
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