Three Musketeers, The (1973)

The Three Musketeers (1973), directed by Richard Lester.

"The Queen's Diamonds".

Just about perfect. I don't know how it could be improved. You seldom see a film so well envisioned and executed. Made as one movie but split and distributed as two: this and The Four Musketeers (1974). (Didn't the actors and crew sue for more money?)

Funny and sardonic with great athletic swashbuckling and brawling. The elaborate entertainments of the nobility are juxtaposed with the grotty street life and snide asides of the commoners.

Screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser is in his element: history both as it was and as it should have been. It actually covers the book pretty well. This is his only great screenplay: titles like Octopussy (1983) and Red Sonja really can't compare.

I find these best enjoyed if you've read Fraser and can imagine his humor transfered to the screen. The action and richness of the presentation may sometimes obscure the wit.

Who do we have? (Fraser: "No screenwriter was ever so fortunate, or more grateful").

D'Artagnan was a real person, by the way. Many of the others are mentioned in old memoirs as well. Buckingham's romance with the Queen of France and Richelieu's plot to disgrace her with the diamonds may be just stories, but they are authentic gossip from the period.

A trivia question: at the end of the cycle (in The Man in the Iron Mask, itself merely the final third of a larger book) only one of the four musketeers remains alive. Who would that be?

Photographed by David Watkin, score by Michel Legrand.

The thumbnails are from the region A-B Optimum Blu-ray from the UK. The image is really rather good in the daylight scenes, maybe pushing the whites a little. No English subtitles, 24.0hz video.

It is a two-disc set and includes the second half: The Four Musketeers (1974).