The Three Musketeers (1935)

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The Three Musketeers (1935) Poster

The young Gascon D'Artagnan arrives in Paris, his heart set on joining the king's Musketeers. He is taken under the wings of three of the most respected and feared Musketeers, Porthos, ... See full summary »


5.9/10
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26 March 2014 | Bunuel1976
6
| THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Rowland V. Lee, 1935) **1/2
This is at least the seventh official adaptation I have watched of the archetypal Alexandre Dumas swashbuckler – the others dating from 1921 (Silent), 1939 (semi-musical), 1948 (for my money, the definitive version), 1953 (French), 1963 (Italian spoof) and 1973/1974 (the popular star-studded two-parter); there are still a few more to go, to be sure – including a renowned French Silent serial and a vintage British TV mini-series which I will be getting to shortly – not counting myriad sequels, offshoots and variations! Being the first Talkie rendition and emanating from the golden age of the genre, much was perhaps expected of the outcome – especially since its director had just supplied the best-regarded take on another of the author's classic and oft-filmed adventure tales, namely THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (1934); however, it ended up proving so uninspired that the picture has virtually fallen through the cracks over the years – until the recent dusting off, being an RKO production, via Warners' "Archive Collection"!

While the essence of the narrative is there for the most part, the spirit is sadly lacking (despite a script co-written by Lee and the renowned Dudley Nichols); not surprisingly, it looks fairly good – but the cast is variable to say the least! The worst offenders here are certainly Walter Abel's bland D'Artagnan (he is awkwardly speechless during the opening sequence!) and Paul Lukas' unimposing Athos (with his trademark broken English delivery intact!); the remaining Musketeers are played by Moroni Olsen (a typically rowdy Porthos in his debut) and a young Onslow Stevens (an adequately brooding Aramis) – incidentally, their famous exploits have even yielded a theme tune! The other famous characters are just as unevenly served – with Ian Keith's Count de Rochefort (for the record, he would reprise the role in 1948) and Margot Grahame's Milady de Winter (who bows out not in the traditional manner, i.e. at the mercy of the public executioner, but rather by leaping off a bridge into the river below!) acquitting themselves reasonably well, while Miles Mander as the King and Nigel de Brulier's Cardinal Richelieu (a part he would tackle four times in all, including the 1921 original and two separate versions, made in 1929 and 1939, of Dumas' "The Man In The Iron Mask") barely register here! That said, the fencing by Fred Cavens (a master in his art throughout the genre's heyday) delivers the expected goods...but, as a general rule, the positives are outweighed by the negatives – perhaps never more so than when D'Artagnan engages in drunken singing (with his just-met beloved Constance on one arm and the Queen of France{!} on the other being urged to helpfully join in) to escape the attention of the Cardinal's men after a clandestine night-time rendezvous with the Duke of Buckingham!!

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