20 January 2005 | bsmith5552
Weakest of Wayne's Three Serials!
"The Three Musketeers" was the third and final serial made by John Wayne for producer Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures. Oddly enough for Wayne, who made mostly westerns during this period, none of the three serials are westerns. In fact, in all three, he plays a pilot.
The story takes place somewhere in an Arab country where three members of the French Foreign Legion are the only survivors of an attack by Arabs. The three, Clancy (Jack Mulhall), Renard (Raymond Hatton) ans Schmidt (Francis X. Bushman Jr.) are rescued from certain death by Tom Wayne (John Wayne), an American pilot. The three legionnaires dub themselves "The Three Musketeers" (you know: "One for all, and all for one") and Wayne their "D'Artagnan.
A mysterious masked figure known as El Shaitan plots a rebellion against the Legion. Wayne is framed for the murder of his friend Armand Corday (Creighton Chaney) and spends the rest of the story trying to prove his innocence while at the same time attempting to learn the identity of El Shaitan.
Wayne is aided by the Musketeers and Corday's sister Elaine (Ruth Hall). There are of course several suspected "El Shaitans" over the course of the 12 chapters. Among the suspects are Col. Duval (Gordon De Main), the company commander, El Kador (Hooper Atchely) and others. Of course we don't learn the identity of the villain until the last chapter.
As in most of the Mascot serials, there is plenty of action, perilous situations and lots of racing around. I found that this serial had far too many flashback sequences and predictable situations. In its favor, it had Yakima Canutt doing most of the stunts and (shudder) even taking a small speaking part. Look closely for Kermit Maynard and I'm sure I saw Wally Wales (aka Hal Taliaferro) as other legionaires. Noah Beery Jr. appears briefly as Wayne's pal Stubbs.
Creigton Chaney is of course better known as Lon Chaney Jr. a name he would adopt in 1935 and use for the rest of his 40 year career. For John Wayne, he would soon move on to his Lone Star western series and would not appear in another serial.