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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 this film, the Four Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan - all sleep together in one bed, with the French phrase 'Un Pour Tous, Tous Pour Un' (One For All, All For One) inscribed on the headboard. See more »
THE IRON MASK (United Artists, 1929), directed by Allan Dwan, based on "The Man in the Iron Mask" by Alexander Dumas, a sequel to Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS (United Artists, 1921), both starring Douglas Fairbanks as D'Artagnan and Marguerite De La Motte as Constance, is a worthy farewell to Fairbanks making his final silent screen adventure.
Those familiar with the plot, which was remade several times on screen and television, including THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (United Artists, 1939) with Louis Hayward, and/ or the most recent and satisfactory 1998 featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeremy Irons, will find the story here not much different, but only shorter in its basic format, as is with its title. The story begins with King Louis XIII of France (Rolfe Sedan) receiving the news of the birth of his son, the future heir to the throne. The only problem is that the heir also has a twin. Since there cannot be two heirs, this news must be kept in utmost secrecy and anyone involved must be put away forever. Constance Beaucieux (Marguerite De La Motte), D'Artagnan's (Douglas Fairbanks), beloved, who was the midwife during the birth, is immediately put away in the Convent of Martes by orders of Count De Rochefort (Ullrich Haupt). Unaware of the secret, D'Artagnan tries to rescue Constance from being held prisoner against her will, but arrives too late. She has been stabbed by Milady De Winter (Dorothy Revier) after discovering the secret mark on her shoulder, the brand of a common criminal. Before Constance dies in D'Artagnan's arms, she utters her final words to him, "the other one ..." The death of Constance leaves D'Artagnan feeling empty and bitter. D'Artagnan, who has been reunited with his colleagues, The Three Musketeers, later saves them from being executed by orders of the Cardinal Richelieu (Nigel De Brulier). After D'Artagnan rescues Richelieu from De Rochefort's men, the Musketeers are pardoned, but find they must part company once more when D'Artagnan is appointed as guardian to the newborn infant and sent to Spain while the actual heir to the throne remains in France. Some twenty years later, the evil twin brother (William Bakewell), a spoiled young man, eventually learns his true identity and of his twin brother holding the throne in France from the villainous De Rochefort. The evil twin plots to take over the throne by having his brother abducted, and banishing him by having him locked in a dungeon with his face sealed in an iron mask for all eternity, and being given food from the guards from under the door, and with strict orders for him not to ever have any visitors. While taking control of the throne, the evil twin meets with his mother, Queen Anne (Belle Bennett), who immediately realizes what's happening. It is then up to the D'Artagnan and his musketeers, now older men, to reunite and save the day.
Featured in the supporting cast are Stanley Sanford as Porthos; Leon Bary as Athos; Gino Corrado as Aramis; Vera Lewis as Madame Peronne and Gordon Thorpe playing the boy prince and his evil twin.
A satisfactory version that becomes a bit slow going at times due to a couple of flashbacks, but then picks up speed again with a memorable swashbuckling conclusion. THE IRON MASK was first introduced as part of the 12-week series on public television's THE SILENT YEARS (1975), hosted by Lillian Gish. Because this was Fairbanks' final silent adventure, released the final year of the silent era (1929), THE IRON MASK became the film chosen as the closing chapter to this series. Accompanied with an original piano score by William J. Perry, from the Paul Killiam collection, and running at the length of about 87 minutes, THE IRON MASK also consisted of color tinted scenes. Reportedly distributed theatrically with talking sequences, sound effects and an original musical score (which may still exist today), THE IRON MASK was later reissued in 1952 through Odyssey Pictures, eliminating the original title cards, replaced with narration by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and accompanied by a new orchestral score. Available with the excellent Perry piano score on video cassette through Blackhawk Films in the 1980s, current video copies distributed in the 1990s present THE IRON MASK with its 1952 72 minute reissue format, the version which formerly aired on American Movie Classics from 1997-1998. Although the difference being the length and clearer picture quality, with the narration giving a better outlook and understanding to the storyline, silent film buffs would prefer to see THE IRON MASK restored to its original silent format. Thanks to KINO video, it's own copy has been restored with sound prologue with Doug Fairbanks himself as well as an orchestral score by Carl Davis. HO-LA! (***)
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