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Which "Three Musketeers"?


Wellsy
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I'm just finishing reading "The Three Musketeers" and I'm wanting to purchase a movie version. I'm wondering which film version is most faithful to the novel - in terms of plot and story. What do you think?

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Well, I've always been partial to RKO's version with Walter Abel, Heather Angel, Moroni Olsen etc.  It's probably the most faithful adaptation and has an incredible Max Steiner score.  I never liked the MGM picture (mainly due to Gene Kelly) although it is a splendid production.

 

And actually, the 1974 film with Michael York and Raquel Welsh was, as I recall, quite excellent.

 

three_musketeers_cover.jpg

 

Here's the music from the fencing demonstration scene:

 

http://www.chelsearialtostudios.com/three_musketeers_fencing.mp3

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I don't know if the 1935 version is the most faithful. With all due apologies to Ray, though, I think that Walter Abel has to the MOST BORING D'Artagnan the movies have ever seen.

 

The Richard Lester Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers films of the '70s are splendid, joyful romps, with marvelous fencing choreography, a delicious sense of humour (some of it throwaway with little comments made out of the sides of some mouths that you have to try to catch), and a truly great ensemble cast, all of whom are perfectly cast.

 

The two films also stick to the basic premise of the Dumas tale, and when the villainous character of Milady de Winter finally receives her comeuppance, it's a truly dramatic moment.

 

8c72fcc7-8880-48ce-835c-598c59896df1_zps

 

A brooding Oliver Reed, an eager, naive Michael York, a comical Frank Finlay and a supercilious Richard Chamberlain in Lester's Four Musketeers. Quite glorious adaption of the novel, even if it deviates from the novel at times.

 

4993-19499.gif

 

Faye Dunaway's memorable Milady de Winter is a classic screen portrait of feminine duplicity.

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Yes, Walter was a bit "staid"!!

 

And PS - I LOVE the 1939 Fox picture with Don Ameche and the Ritz Bros.  Fabulous supporting cast!

You're right, Ray. That Fox Musketeers film was the one time I really enjoyed the Ritz Brothers.

 

But I think it's safe to say that this version is not Dumas.

 

I might add that I found it very difficult to sit through the Fairbanks silent version of 1921. Huge, expansive sets tend to swallow up the characters and the film also moves as a snail's pace.

 

D'Artagnan, though, was Doug's favourite role, one that he reprised at the end of his silent career in The Iron Mask. This is an adaption of another Dumas tale, Man in the Iron Mask, and is highly atmospheric, and very flavourful. Fairbanks is wonderful as an older D'Artagnan in this film, which has a very memorable final scene.

 

the-iron-mask-douglas-fairbanks-sr-1929.

 

Doug Fairbanks' wonderful farewell to swashbuckling, playing D'Artagnan a second time in The Iron Mask.

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I don't know if the 1935 version is the most faithful. With all due apologies to Ray, though, I think that Walter Abel has to the MOST BORING D'Artagnan the movies have ever seen.

 

The Richard Lester Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers films of the '70s are splendid, joyful romps, with marvelous fencing choreography, a delicious sense of humour (some of it throwaway with little comments made out of the sides of some mouths that you have to try to catch), and a truly great ensemble cast, all of whom are perfectly cast.

 

The two films also stick to the basic premise of the Dumas tale, and when the villainous character of Milady de Winter finally receives her comeuppance, it's a truly dramatic moment.

 

8c72fcc7-8880-48ce-835c-598c59896df1_zps

 

A brooding Oliver Reed, an eager, naive Michael York, a comical Frank Finlay and a supercilious Richard Chamberlain in Lester's Four Musketeers. Quite glorious adaption of the novel, even if it deviates from the novel at times.

 

4993-19499.gif

 

Faye Dunaway's memorable Milady de Winter is a classic screen portrait of feminine duplicity.

I loved the Richard Lester "Musketeers" films. You hit the nail on the head with your description.  Did you know they were at first proposed as films for the Beatles? Richard Lester had directed "Hard Days Night" and "Help".

 

In 1989 there was a third film called "Return of the Musketeers". It takes place 20 years after "The Four Musketeers". Sadly, actor Roy Kinnear who played Michael York's squire was riding a horse in a scene and the horse slipped and went down with the actor and Kinnear broke his pelvis. The next day at the hospital his suffered a fatal heart attack. I don't think Lester ever directed a film again...

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In 1989 there was a third film called "Return of the Musketeers". It takes place 20 years after "The Four Musketeers". Sadly, actor Roy Kinnear who played Michael York's squire was riding a horse in a scene and the horse slipped and went down with the actor and Kinnear broke his pelvis. The next day at the hospital his suffered a fatal heart attack. I don't think Lester ever directed a film again...

No, I believe that Lester was devastated by the Kinnear incident. I also believe that Kinnear's family were talking about some kind of lawsuit against the Spanish hospital where he died. I don't know what became of that.

 

I've yet to see Return of the Musketeers. While I understand it's not in the same league as the first two films in the series, I would very much like to see it again, if only because of the cast. I'm just sorry that Faye Dunaway and Raquel Welch couldn't also return to it - for very obvious reasons.

 

I think that the first two Lester Musketeer films rank among the best swashbucklers that the movies have ever given us. A key difference between this film and the others, though (aside from its greater emphasis upon humour) is that this film has a great ensemble cast, all making marvelous contributions, while the best of the earlier swashbucklers tended to have a larger-than-life actor as the centre piece of the production.

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My sister and I were big fans of the Richard Lester Three Musketeers when it came out; we even bought the score.  I also enjoy the Gene Kelly version, mostly the first half; it gets bogged down in the second.  Love Lana as Lady DeWinter and Van Heflin as Athos, but June Allyson is just awful.   I've never seen the Ritz Brothers version but always wanted to.  I remember this great Leave It To Beaver episode when I was a kid where Beaver has to do a book report on The Three Musketeers and watches the Ritz Brother movie and writes it based on that. 

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I'm just finishing reading "The Three Musketeers" and I'm wanting to purchase a movie version. I'm wondering which film version is most faithful to the novel - in terms of plot and story. What do you think?

 

I love all of the works of Alexandre Dumas, père! 

 

I have watched many movie adaptations of his works. I have watched all movie adaptations of this novel mentioned to date in this thread.

 

I am sorry to say that it is my opinion that no adaptation is is in any way close to being faithful to any aspect of the novel except as might be noted as parallels in very short synopses. 

 

It is much worse with movie adaptations of: The Count of Monte Cristo. The novel is four volumes of intrigue, cunning, despair and revenge with mentions of drug use, lesbians, sex slaves and other salacious and exciting tidbits of life in those times. I feel there is no movie adaptation which rises above the level of a grade-school book report.

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