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A Modern Musketeer (1917)

TV-G  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Western  |  30 December 1917 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 194 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 6 critic

A restless young man travels west, encountering adventure, romance, and danger.



(photoplay), (based upon "D'Artagnan of Kansas" by)
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Complete credited cast:
Kathleen Kirkham ...
Mrs. Dodge
Eugene Ormonde ...
Forrest Vandeteer
Edythe Chapman ...
Mrs. Thacker
Frank Campeau ...
James Brown


A young man grows restless living in a small Kansas town, dreaming of the adventures of the Three Musketeers. So in hopes of becoming a modern D'Artagnan, he mounts his steed (a Model T Ford) and sets out across the West in search of excitement and adventure. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis






Release Date:

30 December 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Douglas le nouveau D'Artagnan  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(2006 alternate)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was the first film shown at the newly built Rivoli Theater in New York City. See more »


When Chin-de-dah leads Vandeteer and Elsie through the Canyon, the shadows of the cameraman and another crew member are visible on the ground. See more »

Crazy Credits

Except for Douglas Fairbanks, whose name appears above the title, there is no cast list. Actors are introduced by intertitle cards just before they appear on the screen. The IMDb cast list therefore uses this "order of appearance" sequence. See more »

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User Reviews

Things to Come
31 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

This Douglas Fairbanks vehicle has been noted for its scenes of Fairbanks dressed as D'Artagnan ("The Three Musketeers") anticipating the star's later redirection of his career in the 1920s to more prestigious, costume/historical swashbucklers. Otherwise, "A Modern Musketeer" is similar to the usual modern comedies Fairbanks made before "The Mark of Zorro" and "The Three Musketeers" transformed his career. His scenes as D'Artagnan are only a small part of the picture—mostly the opening sequence where Doug swordfights every man in a tavern to humorously retrieve a lady's handkerchief. Framing this sequence, Fairbanks literally winks at the camera, which the Flicker Alley commentary suggests was to reassure audiences that they were watching the same old Doug, who had by this time firmly established a popular comedic screen persona.

I like Fairbanks's comedies and have viewed about every complete one I could find on home video, but, admittedly, even the best formulas eventually get tiresome and in need of some revision and innovation. The first part of "A Modern Musketeer" is, thus, interestingly unusual. Besides the opening swashbuckling, other sequences seem to be in non-chronological order: first, there's a mythological past of D'Artagnan with a modern sense of humor, then a near-contemporary scene where modern Doug destroys another, but modern, tavern, as he again knocks men about to defend a woman's honor, followed by the cyclone scene of Doug's character's birth and, then, another near-present scene on a streetcar involving giving up seats for ladies. After this, we mostly follow the main chronological story as our hero leaves home and eventually saves the day at the Grand Canyon.

As in his other comedies, Fairbanks is established as out-of-place in modern society, for his restless exuberance and chivalry at the expense of clobbering any fellow seeming to be in his way. The film suggests that this kind of man was more at home in the past, such as in the case of D'Artagnan. The setting of historical swashbucklers befitted Fairbanks's persona, whereas the modern comedies found their comedy in Fairbanks's awkwardness in modern times and his transformation within those constraints. He doesn't belong in his small hometown in Kansas, so he leaves for adventure.

Overall, this is a good Fairbanks comedy. It's the earliest one I've seen directed by Allan Dwan, who was taking over for John Emerson as the star's main director. Apparently, scenarist and title writer Anita Loos had also already departed from Fairbanks's team of filmmakers, but her influence continued to be seen in witty title cards such as this one: "After Fording the desert… Note:--please pardon the pun." The "note" part, as the DVD commentary points out, is a clever jab at D.W. Griffith, who included historical footnotes, often dubiously, in title cards for his historical epics, such as "The Birth of a Nation".

Some final technical notes: the tornado scene features some decent special effects for 1917, including the use of miniatures. Lots of structures fall over and apart, but there isn't nearly enough dust blowing around to make the scene more realistic. This sequence and the dam break climax in Fairbanks's "When the Clouds Roll by" seem to have had a strong influence on Buster Keaton, who included similar scenes in his later comedies. Additionally, the direction and editing are generally sharp here, as in other Fairbanks's films, but there is one particularly sloppy match-on-action cut about 30 minutes in where there's a temporal replay as the scene cuts to a closer view. Finally, the photography of the Grand Canyon is pretty good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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