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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

not bad at all!

7/10
Author: mosthappyfella from Belgium
7 August 2005

The renowned late British film historian Leslie Halliwell includes this film in his book " Halliwells hundred" as one of the funniest and under-appreciated musical spoofs in his long film going experience...this prompted me to take a look at it , and indeed it IS funny and it makes one wonder why the Ritz brothers are now all but forgotten by the general public(well, that shouldn't surprise anyone, as the "general" public has the memory of a fruit-fly when it comes to classic cinema...) and their contemporaries the 3 stooges are still so over-appreciated and all over the place....cults are strange things and often owe more to snobbish "in-the-know"-isms than real talent.... Nevertheless....the other review of this movie on this site seems to be a little besides the point....this is a bit of fluff, but it's Great fluff, made with style and often more straightforward and to the point than other more pompous versions of this old yarn...relax and enjoy it : its entertainment...as light and pleasant as a summers breeze, as funny as your self-important uncle falling face down in a cream pie! And oh yes, I DO know Friml's score for " the 3 musketeers"...it COULD have been used yes, but boy would it have been BORING!

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The movie has charm...but how well you like it may depend on how well you like the Ritz Brothers

7/10
Author: Terrell-4 from San Antonio, Texas
31 January 2008

Darryl Zanuck does to The Three Musketeers what Mr. Joyboy does to the loved ones at Whispering Glades Mortuary. They sure look well groomed and well cared for, but I wouldn't want to embrace them enthusiastically. They're just a little...well, stiff. The story goes that Zanuck in 1939 thought the time was right for a movie full of laughs, slapstick and songs, all done on the cheap but looking good. What else could have come to Zanuck's mind than Dumas' The Three Musketeers, especially since there were no rights to pay for. There's still the skeleton of the story. The Queen of France (Gloria Stuart) has given an emerald brooch to the Duke of Buckingham as a remembrance token. Cardinal Richelieu (Miles Mander) discovers this and sets up a nasty surprise for her which will ensure his power over the King. But that young man from Gascony who is eager to become a King's Musketeer, D'Artagnan (Don Ameche), learns of the plot while falling in love with one of the Queen's attendants, Lady Constance (Pauline Moore). He enlists the three Musketeers he was going to duel with and off they go to retrieve the brooch, save the Queen, foil the Cardinal's plan and frustrate the Cardinal's beautiful agent, Lady de Winter (Binnie Barnes).

However, the real three musketeers are given about three minutes of screen time. Taking their place in mistaken identity are three lackeys...the Ritz Brothers. Although Don Ameche makes a likable enough fighting and singing D'Artagnan, this Three Musketeers lives or dies on how funny you think the Ritz Brothers are. They were big stuff in the Thirties, but faded fast in the early Forties. They were loud, anarchic and could do some fine precision dancing. In this film, their stomping routine with metal plates strapped fore and aft is first rate. Since the movie only lasts about 72 minutes, there's a lot of the Ritz Brothers.

Ameche is assured, pleasant and, as he was throughout most of his career, bland. He was a popular leading man in the Thirties and Forties, but never quite found a firm grasp on top stardom. Everyone liked him, he went home at 5 p.m. to his wife and kids, didn't drink and he always knew his lines. By the time the Fifties were underway he was doing a lot of television and had a success on Broadway as the lead in Cole Porter's Silk Stockings. He was largely forgotten until, improbably, he hit stardom in the movies one more time. With Trading Places in 1983, Cocoon in 1985 and Things Change in 1988, Ameche, now as an older star character actor, was on top again. He stayed there until his death in 1993 at age 85. It's a nice story.

Ameche is both blessed and cursed in the movie. He's blessed because he has a chance to show what a skilled singer he is, from the Musketeers' march to an odd traveling song to his declaration of love for Lady Constance. He's cursed because these are some of the most mundane songs imaginable. Here's Ameche singing with his head through a hole in a wooden door to Constance:

And if my song could make you say you love me, / Then heaven would be bright above me.

With words and music straight from my heart, / My song would tell my love for you, my lady.

While he's singing this song, Pauline Moore as Constance looks as if d'Artagnan must have had too much garlic on his escargots. It's an awkwardly acted and staged scene.

But here's a toast to Lady de Winter, a spy to die for. And she'll help you. de Winter is one of the great characters in the book and she usually steals the scenes she has in the many movie versions. Lana Turner and Faye Dunaway were memorably murderous and stunningly beautiful as Milady. With Lady de Winter's fondness for causing others to die and with her cool delight in using men's lust to achieve her ends, one can only assume that she never had enough love as a child. Binnie Barnes plays her and does a great job. Barnes is blond and beautiful, and her de Winter would just as soon skewer D'Artagnan as make love to him. Binnie Barnes said once, "I'm no Sarah Bernhardt. One picture is just like another to me as long as I don't have to be a sweet woman."

How well you enjoy this movie probably depends on how well you enjoy the Ritz Brothers. The movie is dated, the humor is broad, the songs aren't very good. Still, The Three Musketeers has a lot of good natured charm.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Slight version of the oft-filmed tale with a few bright spots.

Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
14 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With the many, many film versions of Dumas' classic tale out there, it became necessary (to some filmmakers) to mix it up a bit and put a spin or two on the story or use stunt casting in order to make the material seem fresh or different to an audience. In some cases, this has worked (as in the splendiferous 1973 version and its sequel) and in others it hasn't (the heinous Brat Pack version with Charlie Sheen.) This 1939 version is probably somewhere in the middle. The title characters barely appear at all as they are disposed of right off the bat and replaced by The Ritz Brothers. It is these three bumbling oddballs that Ameche (as D'Artagnan) meets with and enacts the story beside. Ameche and the Ritz's are enlisted to save the Queen of France's honor when she gives a priceless brooch to her lover, the Duke of Buckingham, but then needs it back in order to save face before her husband the King and his second-in-command Cardinal Richelieu. Standing in their way is the deceptive Barnes (as Milady De Winter) and the Cardinal's guards, led by Atwill (as Rochefort.) In the meantime, Ameche woos the Queen's dressmaker Moore through song and derring-do. This is a very pared down, simplified version of the story, ending before the plot becomes too dark (about a decade later, the Gene Kelly version would show the tale all the way to the end.) All but the bare bones of the story is hacked out or altered in order to house wacky comic schtick from the Ritzes or musical numbers, mostly supplies by Ameche. That said, enough of the tale remains to create some level of interest and a decent cast helps to put the thing over for the most part. Ameche is handsome and charming. Moore is reasonably appealing. Barnes is intriguing and game to the comic shenanigans while retaining her dignity. Stuart makes a lovely Queen Anne and does the best she can with a rather thin role. Familiar faces like Schildkraut and Carradine dot the cast. One disappointment is Mander as Richelieu. He doesn't bring an ounce of the sinister charm and menace that later actors like Vincent Price and Charlton Heston gave to the role. As for the Ritz Brothers, their brand of comedy is a matter of taste. They display a sort of mincing quality and don't particularly impress here in their series of bits, though they do show a flair for physical comedy at times. Thanks to lengthier careers, more distinct personalities and the aid of television reruns, The Three Stooges have nearly completely eclipsed these three gents who only enjoyed roughly a decade of film stardom. Likely to disappoint stalwart fans of the novel, the film is a pleasant enough diversion for others and is brief and nice to look at.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Allan Dwan, 1939) ***

7/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
30 July 2008

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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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fun

6/10
Author: ctomvelu from usa
17 January 2005

It is indeed a question why Fox turned out this odd musical sendup of the Dumas novel so soon after a straight version had been shot and released. But Ameche makes for a dashing and lighthearted D'Artagnan and the interchangeable Ritz Brothers -- the poor man's Three Stooges -- provide some comic relief as cowardly vassals mistaken for the real musketeers, who are MIA in this version of the classic story. Very low budget, but so what? It's lots of fun, although the musical numbers are pretty mediocre. At least Ameche can sing! Catch it on TMC and enjoy it for what it's worth. If nothing else, it's relatively brief. It certainly compares favorably with the 1948 all-star version starring Gene Kelly, which next to the 1973 Richard Lester version is probably the best of the myriad film versions of this grand adventure.

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

One of the strangest musicals ever

3/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
12 September 2004

After viewing this film I wound up scratching my head with so many questions of how this thing ever got made in the first place.

Firstly three years before there was a straight dramatic version of The Three Musketeers that starred Walter Abel as D'Artagnan by RKO. That film was well received although it didn't transform Abel into a leading man. Why Darryl Zanuck made another version so soon is beyond me.

Secondly Rudolph Friml wrote a fine operetta of The Three Musketeers in the 20s. The score here by Walter Bulloch and Samuel Pokrass is singularly unmemorable. Who knows why Friml's music wasn't used, but it should have been.

Zanuck had the ideal D'Artagnan on his lot in Tyrone Power. But since Power didn't sing and Don Ameche always got sloppy seconds in roles at Fox, he got the part. Poor Ameche, he tried his best and he even gets into the comic elements of the film, but it's no good.

At year 2004 very few people know of the Ritz Brothers. They were good burlesque comedians who Zanuck signed up. Their humor was of The Three Stooges variety, but each stooge had an individual personality. You can't tell one Ritz from the other. In the film they take the place of the real Athos, Porthos, and Aramis and they and Ameche bungle their way into one situation after another.

Of the women in the cast I have to say that Binnie Barnes as Milady DeWinter gets into the spirit of the slapstick with the Ritzes.

It's a mess this film, but more so when you think that a straight musical with the Friml score could have been done and now probably never will and a version with Ty Power as D'Artagnan would have been a classic.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Musical-comedy retelling of "the Queen's Jewels" with the Ritz Bros as The Three Musketeers.

6/10
Author: (MAKSQUIBS@yahoo.com) from United States
9 April 2008

A musical comedy version of the swashbuckling classic starring Don Ameche and the Ritz Bros? It sounds like a Catskill burlesque sketch, but turns out to be a straight, if bare-bones, version of Dumas, with mistaken identity (times 3) swapping Al, Jim & Harry in for Athos, Aramis & Porthos. Vet megger Alan Dwan was an old hand at this type of material (his THE IRON MASK/'29 -- in the restored KINO edition, please -- is one of the great Dumas adaptations) and the production has a giddying pace and a surprisingly sumptuous look to it. But the songs are unmemorable (to put it nicely) and leave an already short film with hardly enough time to fit in a measly Cliff Notes edition of the narrative.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Cast

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
27 February 2008

Three Musketeers, The (1939)

*** (out of 4)

D'Artagnan (Don Ameche) goes to join The Three Musketeers but he ends up teaming up with three misfits (The Ritz Brothers) posing as the Musketeers. I really wasn't expecting too much out of this film but found myself enjoying it throughout the short 73-minute running time. Ameche is terrific in his role and he pulls off the swordplay very nicely and his musical numbers are also very good. The Ritz Brothers have a poor reputation but so far I've enjoyed the two films of theirs that I've seen (the other being The Gorilla). This film also benefits from a very strong supporting cast, which includes Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Pauline Moore and a very funny John Carradine. The film stays pretty faithful to the original story with everything just kicked up a notch for comic situations.

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Superb cast in Abbreviated Dumas adventur

9/10
Author: Frank Cullen from American Vaudeville Museum
23 April 2017

The only way to make a bad movie out of The Three Musketeers is to cast Charlie Sheen in it as they did in 1993. Note to other reviewers: EVERY filmed version of this Dumas' tale has to be a chop job—unless it becomes a multi-episode cable TV series. Note #2: most classics get spoofed (think how delightfully well Mel Brooks has done with Life of Brian, Frankenstein, Dracula, Robin Hood. Few actors of his day could surpass Don Ameche for versatility (singer, physical actor, comedy actor), and Binnie Barnes rivals any other female actor who's played Lady d'Winter, and she proved a fine foil for the Ritz Brothers. Add John Carradine and Lionel Atwill for villainy and we have a fine cast of pros. As to the Ritz Brothers, they were superb talents: precision dancers, singers and comedians who were among the highest paid revue and nightclub acts in the USA. Like many variety comedians (Beatrice Lillie, Bert Lahr, The Wiere Brothers, Shaw & Lee, Jimmy Savo), it was difficult to adapt narrative material for three surreal madcaps like the Ritzes. The Three Musketeers is enjoyable not only because of Ameche, Barnes, Carradine and Atwill, but for the bright and witty story curve fielded by Al, Harry & Jimmy Ritz. The Three Musketeers does not showcase the Ritzes at their best (see: You Can't Have Everything; Sing, Baby, Sing; and On the Avenue. Pass on The Gorilla; it doesn't merit anyone's consideration. But The Three Musketeers may be their best film in overall quality—after all, it was directed by Allan Dwan (who helmed the Doug Fairbanks version). Frank Cullen founder: ABQ Film Club and American Vaudeville Museum author: Vaudeville Old & New (Routledge 2007).

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Burlesque of the classic tale, sometimes too silly for its own good.

5/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
22 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While this follows the basic storyline we've seen in more than half a dozen films, this musical comedy is part operetta/part farce, some of it more amusing than the other. With their tongues firmly in their cheeks, the Ritz Brothers are substituted for musketeers which Don Ameche (as D'Artagnon) has made the mistake of insulting in print. They are passed out when Ameche arrives, believing that the disguised Ritz Brothers are actually the men he was arranging to meet. This leads to adventures as they struggle to return a broach belonging to Queen Anne (Gloria Stuart) to her before the King discovers it is missing. The villain is of course the scheming Cardinal Richilieu (Miles Mander looking nothing like George Arliss) who is plotting to reveal the Queen's alleged infidelity with an Englishman (Lester Matthews) she has given a passport to in order to leave the country. Ameche falls in love with the Queen's lady in waiting (a dull Pauline Moore) while the Cardinal conspires with the scheming Lady DeWinter (a fun Binnie Barnes) who must undergo humiliation by the Ritz Brothers as part of her acting assignment. The result is a mixed bag that would later be done more seriously by MGM in 1948 and as a light-hearted comedy/adventure in 1974.

The love songs seem like relics out of the days of Broadway operetta, which it had been in the 1920's, while the comedy tunes seem like spoofs of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Ritz Brothers are amusing, but their buffoonery is inappropriate in its trying to make us believe that Ameche would not see through their silliness. Recent Oscar Winner Joseph Schildkraut is only seen briefly as the King, but popular screen villains John Carradine and Lionel Atwill get to pop up and do their thing. The first Ritz Brothers gag (involving a drinking contest) is straight out of the Three Stooges, while a novelty musical number (involving the brothers clad in pots and pans being used as musical instruments) is slightly amusing. The feathered hat-wearing Ameche lays the over-acting a little thick here, reminding me of the old line about a similar performance being referred to as "a ham with a feather in it". It is enjoyable as light-hearted fare, but serious lovers of the story are better off sticking with the 1935, 1948 and 1974 versions.

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