Three Musketeers, The (1948)

The Three Musketeers (1948), directed by George Sidney.

The first half -- the adventure of the queen's diamonds -- is light and very silly, taking full advantage of Gene Kelly's athletic ability and comic mugging. The second half -- the exposure of Milady de Winter -- is darker. We might expect that she and Constance would be spared in this version, but it is not to be.

The two-part structure was used again by George MacDonald Fraser in his fine screenplay for The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974). He praises this version in The Hollywood History of the World and I suspect he had it in mind when he wrote his own treatment. It's impressive how much of the original story gets covered in the films.

As adventure entertainment it is only so-so: the light costuming and California country locations take us out of the fantasy, but we have exciting sword fights and impressive acrobatics.

A fine cast:

This must have been spectacular Technicolor when it was new, but the DVD quality is only fair. Will we ever see a restoration?