2 January 2010 | Blueghost
A respectable installment.
Lester's musketeer films were some of the first films I ever saw in the movie theatre, and I was entranced. Disappointingly I also saw "The Fifth Musketeer" with a different set of actors, and a different production team. Fast forward ten to fifteen years after that, and I'm channel surfing one evening when I come across some kind of period piece that happens to looks like a musketeer film on WTBS.
And it is. Complete with Michael York and gang to reprise their roles.
Huh? Wha-? "Return of the Musketeers"? How is it that I never heard of this movie? Particularly when it came out a few years before airing on Ted Turner's Superstation?
Unfortunately I only caught the final twenty minutes or so, but I knew WTBS would reair it at some point, or it'd be available on VHS somewhere. Right?
Just like the book upon which the film was based I had to wait twenty years to get a DVD of this film, and from where? France. Fitting, if somewhat ironic given the production team. As part of a three film set I had to repurchase the original 1970's films, but at least I finally have the full set of Richard Lester's renaissance tales.
But, to the film. I like it. It's not quite as extraordinary as the first two films, but it does manage to recapture some of the atmosphere set by the previous two films. We see the decadence of the privileged aristocracy, but we don't quite see the visual juxtaposition of what was filth ridden Europe at that point in history.
I have to admit that the film feels somewhat cobbled together, but I enjoyed it all the same. As you probably already know comedic actor Roy Kinnear's life was tragically cut short working on this production, and the film is appropriately dedicated to him.
I guess the one thing that really stands out in this film is the fact that it's a relatively low budget affair. When the first musketeer films were shot the film makers had the advantage of shooting under Franco's Spain, making the production a cheap affair for en epic scale production. I guess when democracy spreads the wealth it also spreads the demand for wealth, making things more expensive, therefore reducing the scale of the action and truncating any large battle scenes. You can tell that in spite of this being an expensive production that the money just wasn't there to do proper Richard Lester justice for this third installment of the musketeer movies.
All in all I enjoyed it. As I say the production values aren't quite there. Noticeably the one real critique that I had with the second film "The Four Musketeers" was the fact that Michael Legrand's adventurous score was absent. So it is with this film. Which is a shame, because an adventurous film needs an adventurous score. Oh well.
Like I say, it's not the best film in the series, but I'm glad to finally have it in my collection, albeit on Region 2 DVD. Give it a chance if you're new. If you remember the 70's musketeer films, then give this one a spin for a small bit of remembrance.