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The Three Musketeers (1939)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 17 February 1939 (USA)
D'Artagnan sings and fronts for slapstick cowardly Ritz brothers posing as musketeers.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Lady Constance
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Naveau
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...
...
Athos (as Douglas Dumbrille)
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Aramis (as John King)
...
...
Vitray
...
Egon Brecher ...
Landlord
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Storyline

A parodic remake of the story of the young Gascon D'Artagnan, who arrives in Paris, his heart set on joining the king's Musketeers. He is taken under the wings of three of the most respected and feared Musketeers, Porthos, Aramis, and Athos. Together they fight to save France and the honor of a lady from the machinations of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A musical comedy version of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers.


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One for All  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stars the real life siblings, The Ritz Brothers, who were vaudeville stars much like the Marx Brothers, but not as successful. See more »

Goofs

During the scene where horsemen are chasing a carriage containing Milady and D'Artagnan along a country road, an electric power substation can briefly be seen in the background. See more »

Quotes

D'Artagnan: She's a walking post office.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Three Musketeers (1921) See more »

Soundtracks

Chicken Soup (Plucking Song)
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Samuel Pokrass
Lyrics by Walter Bullock
Performed by The Ritz Brothers
See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Allan Dwan, 1939) ***
30 July 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Unlike what I wrote regarding THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (1934), the opposite is true about Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” – being perhaps overly-familiar with the narrative from multiple viewings of the 1948 and 1973/4 versions, and one of the Silent 1921 Douglas Fairbanks vehicle (incidentally, director Allan Dwan would 8 years later guide Fairbanks through the paces once more as D’Artagnan in THE IRON MASK), I didn’t need to concentrate on the complexities of the plot…even more so when one realizes how little of Dumas has been retained for this 73-minute musical comedy adaptation!

That said, in spite of it being something of a showcase for The Ritz Brothers’ particular brand of fooling, Fox and director Dwan didn’t skimp with the budget – so that the film looks exceedingly handsome and the action set-pieces are reasonably vivid (with D’Artagnan ably portrayed by a dashing, breezy and agile Don Ameche…who even has a penchant for utilizing Shakespeare quotes as pick-up lines!). Amusingly, the titular figures of Athos, Porthos and Aramis (one of them played by frequent Marx Brothers foil Douglass Dumbrille!) only turn up at the start; their hasty exit arises out of a drinking binge with the Brothers (actually cooks at a tavern) and, when D’Artagnan appears for his famous duel with the trio, he finds the Ritzes have taken their place (i.e. donned their costumes). Their explanation of this, however, is summarily interrupted by the arrival of Cardinal Richelieu’s men – which forces the gang to defend themselves the only way they know how, through slapstick, and subsequently to flee the tavern as D’Artagnan’s companions!

With this in mind, here we get a reversal of the central situation in the Dumas classic: whereas in the latter it was D’Artagnan who had to prove his mettle, in this case, he’s perfectly capable of dealing (almost single-handedly) with the swashbuckling side of business…even if he’s himself merely pretending to an official Musketeer’s position! Even so, the formerly plot-packed saga has been all but emaciated or, if you like, streamlined to accommodate The Ritz Brothers’ shtick (not always successful but generally quite decent and tolerable) as well as a handful of songs (of similarly variable quality but also just as charmingly old-fashioned). By highlighting the episode involving the retrieval of the Queen’s brooch, then, Milady De Winter’s contribution is noticeably diminished – being practically relegated to a mere lackey of Cardinal Richelieu’s!

In my introduction, I mentioned the classic 1934 version of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO – which I’ve just watched; interestingly, the director of that film (Rowland V. Lee) followed it with an adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” in 1935: unfortunately, it’s been even more ignored over the years than the film under review – with which it shares cinematographer J. Peverell Marley and actor Miles Mander (appearing as King Louis XIII in 1935 and Cardinal Richelieu in 1939!) – coming so soon after the former, I guess prompted the tale’s conversion into a musical lampoon for the latter version. One of the factors which really intrigued me about Fox’s adaptation (recently released in a beautifully-packaged DVD edition, which I received only a couple of days ago) was the stalwart cast: apart from those already mentioned, we have Binnie Barnes (as Milady – at one point, subdued to the indignity of being searched upside down by the Ritzes for a crucial letter, to which comes the amusingly anachronistic quip “She’s a walking post office”!), Pauline Moore (making for a lovely Constance), Joseph Schildkraut (disappointingly, barely registering as the King), Gloria Stuart (graceful if a bit stiff as the Queen), Lionel Atwill (again, underused as Rochefort – the ambitious Cardinal’s right-hand man), John Carradine (a surprisingly uncharacteristic turn as a sniveling but greedy inn-keeper who, overhearing the Queen’s dilemma connecting her with the Duke of Buckingham, squeals everything to Richelieu) and Lester Matthews (the bland hero of WEREWOLF OF London and THE RAVEN {both 1935} is here the equally colorless Buckingham). Incidentally, the film might have worked even better were some roles to be exchanged – for instance, while Mander did pretty well by the Cardinal, I couldn’t help wondering what the more renowned Schildkraut or Atwill would have made of it!

In the long run, this particular version of “The Three Musketeers” (aptly dubbed THE SINGING MUSKETEER in the UK!) is best appreciated as a companion piece to The Ritz Brothers’ subsequent outing – THE GORILLA (1939; for which Dwan and Atwill were also recruited) – than as a faithful rendition of Dumas’ swashbuckling archetype (for which the adaptations I singled out early on are already sufficiently diverse and comprehensive to please most ardent fans)…


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