23 April 2017 | porridge-80884
Superb cast in Abbreviated Dumas adventur
The only way to make a bad movie out of The Three Musketeers is to cast Charlie Sheen in it as they did in 1993. Note to other reviewers: EVERY filmed version of this Dumas' tale has to be a chop job—unless it becomes a multi-episode cable TV series. Note #2: most classics get spoofed (think how delightfully well Mel Brooks has done with Life of Brian, Frankenstein, Dracula, Robin Hood. Few actors of his day could surpass Don Ameche for versatility (singer, physical actor, comedy actor), and Binnie Barnes rivals any other female actor who's played Lady d'Winter, and she proved a fine foil for the Ritz Brothers. Add John Carradine and Lionel Atwill for villainy and we have a fine cast of pros. As to the Ritz Brothers, they were superb talents: precision dancers, singers and comedians who were among the highest paid revue and nightclub acts in the USA. Like many variety comedians (Beatrice Lillie, Bert Lahr, The Wiere Brothers, Shaw & Lee, Jimmy Savo), it was difficult to adapt narrative material for three surreal madcaps like the Ritzes. The Three Musketeers is enjoyable not only because of Ameche, Barnes, Carradine and Atwill, but for the bright and witty story curve fielded by Al, Harry & Jimmy Ritz. The Three Musketeers does not showcase the Ritzes at their best (see: You Can't Have Everything; Sing, Baby, Sing; and On the Avenue. Pass on The Gorilla; it doesn't merit anyone's consideration. But The Three Musketeers may be their best film in overall quality—after all, it was directed by Allan Dwan (who helmed the Doug Fairbanks version). Frank Cullen founder: ABQ Film Club and American Vaudeville Museum author: Vaudeville Old & New (Routledge 2007).