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King Louis XIII of France is thrilled to have born to him a son - an heir to the throne. But when the queen delivers a twin, Cardinal Richelieu sees the second son as a potential for revolution, and has him sent off to Spain to be raised in secret to ensure a peaceful future for France. Alas, keeping the secret means sending Constance, lover of D'Artagnan, off to a convent. D'Artagnan hears of this and rallies the Musketeers in a bid to rescue her. Unfortunately, Richelieu out-smarts the Musketeers and banishes them forever. Richelieu enlists D'Artagnan to look after and protect the young prince. Meanwhile, de Rochefort learns of the twins and Richelieu's plans, and kidnaps the twin, raising him in secret. Many years later, with Richelieu dead and the young prince crowned King Louis XIV, Rochefort launches his plan. The king is kidnapped, replaced with his twin, put in an iron mask so as not to be recognized, and led off to a remote castle to be held prisoner. Louis XIV is able to ... Written by
Theron Trowbridge <Tmonk@concentric.net>
In the prologue, the four musketeers stand in a framing device, as a medieval stage booth, and D'Artagnan steps forward and speaks to the audience, then steps back and resumes his position with the other three, who remained motionless; after the mid-point intermission, the same situation is repeated, with D'Artagnan speaking again to the audience, finishing with the words, "once more, once more...", after which the film resumes with the title card "20 years later". These were the two Douglas Fairbanks' first scenes with spoken dialogue, in his last silent film. See more »
Douglas Fairbanks' Farewell To Days Of Silent Glory
With his head encased in THE IRON MASK that hides his identity, the true king of France waits for the elderly D'Artagnan & the Three Musketeers to come to his rescue...
Douglas Fairbanks, silent cinema's greatest swashbuckling hero, bid farewell to the glory days of the silent screen with this joyous romp of a film. As a sequel to Fairbanks' earlier THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1921), it more than surpasses its predecessor in lavish production values, good acting & nonstop action.
Now 46, Fairbanks seems none the worse for wear and his muscular athleticism is still called upon to win the girl, beat the foe & thrill the audience. Fairbanks had a natural spontaneity & authentic joie de vivre, both in his private life and in his screen persona, which audiences of the 1920's found absolutely irresistible. He was unique - unforgettable - utterly irreplaceable.
Fairbanks is supported once again by a fine cast: lovely Marguerite De La Motte as the faithful Constance; Dorothy Revier as the treacherous Milady de Winter; William Bakewell in the dual role of the two princes; Lon Poff as the sinister Father Joseph. That's the excellent character actress Vera Lewis in the tiny role of the Royal Midwife.
The Three Musketeers themselves are rather more finely delineated than in the previous film. Léon Bary as Athos, Tiny Sandford as Porthos & Gino Corrado as Aramis all give good account of themselves throughout the flurry & turmoil of the lively plot.
Special mention must be made of British actor Nigel de Brulier, once again playing the rapacious Cardinal Richelieu. Even though the character disappears half way into the film, de Brulier still manages to invest the Churchman with more than just villainy. He helps the viewer to glimpse the real person behind the facade and to understand some of the reasons for his tyrannical behavior.
One of the versions in which this film is available has all the title cards removed & a rousing narrative read by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. substituted in their place.
The opening credits state that the film's narrative was based on the story by Elton Thomas (a pseudonym for Fairbanks), which was in turn based on Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers' & Twenty Years After.' This is true, but all of the Man in the Iron Mask elements actually came from Dumas' novel Ten Years Later; or, The Vicomte de Bragelonne,' (1848-50). Thus, the events in the latter half of THE IRON MASK take place 30 years after the events in THE THREE MUSKETEERS.
The first film is set in 1625; the second film starts in 1638. Since important plot elements are not handled in THE THREE MUSKETEERS - for instance, Milady's evil behavior towards Constance - they are somewhat incongruously left dangling for 13 years until the beginning of THE IRON MASK. And some of the most fascinating elements of the later books - such as the Musketeers' clash with Milady's malevolent son & the machinations of Richelieu's successor, the wily Cardinal Mazarin - are completely ignored altogether.
But this is a mere quibble and should not detract from the immense enjoyment of a very fine film. It might be helpful to note, in passing, a few historical dates which deal directly with the plot:
Louis XIV born September 15, 1638.
Cardinal Richelieu dies December 4, 1642.
Louis XIII dies May 14, 1643.
Louis XIV is crowned King in 1654, after attaining maturity.
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