The young Gascon D'Artagnan 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, ... See full summary »
Nigel De Brulier
Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.
Young d'Artagnan leaves Gascony for Paris where he hopes to become a Musketeer of the Guard. He does meet three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, but totally by chance and for... a ... See full summary »
The hectic adventures of D'Artagnan, a young provincial noble who just comes to Paris to enter the musketeers. He will meet action, love, hate, the king and the queen as his impetuousness gets him involved in political plots... and of course virile and indestructible friendship with the three musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Written by
This film's initial telecast in Los Angeles took place Friday 3 January 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11); it was not aired in Phladelphia until 1 November 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by New York City 5 December 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2); San Francisco televiewers finally got their first look at it 27 August 1960 on KGO (Channel 7). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. See more »
Near the end of the movie, D'Artagnan removes and drops his hat as he leaps into the water from the castle parapet. Seconds later, he is riding at full gallop with his hat on. See more »
Porthos, when did a wound ever come between you and a fight?
[lying on his stomach]
Well, unfortunately the position of this one comes between me and my horse.
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The true test of a filmed version of a famous novel is not how close the action is to the plot of the book - it's whether it's faithful to the spirit of the original, and above all, whether it *works*. I didn't think casting Gene Kelly as a non-singing, non-dancing D'Artagnan would work: it does. I didn't think censoring the religious references to suit the US market would work - it does. I didn't think this could possibly rival the 1974 Lester/Macdonald Fraser version... well, I'm still not sure about that one, but it's an unexpectedly close call.
Without any question, the outstanding performance in this film is that of Gene Kelly. His athleticism, unsurprisingly, is marvellous, his swordplay is dazzling - but most importantly, as an actor his characterization of the impetuous, susceptible, hot-headed but good-hearted young Gascon is spot on the mark. He plays the part with a humour and charm that leave us likewise loving and laughing in his wake, and the only character with a chance of upstaging him is that truly preposterous yellow horse... a piece of type-casting if ever I saw one!
Perhaps the most disappointing performance, in contrast, is Van Heflin as Athos, the high-minded musketeer who drinks to find oblivion from a dark secret in his past. This Athos is a sullen peasant rather than a tragic nobleman, perhaps because the scriptwriters chose to demote him from Comte to Baron de la Fere. He has none of the charisma that should have been brought to the part, and it's often hard to understand why his three companions put up with him.
The fight scenes are excellently staged, as is to be expected in a precursor of 'Scaramouche', but I personally did feel that they went on for a little too long. Likewise, Anne of Austria was wonderfully imperious, but not as beautiful as the legend would have her. Constance Bonancieux, by contrast, gets a much larger part in this version than in Dumas' novel - and a somewhat less sleazy relationship with the young lodger - and makes the most of it.
The pivotal change in the plot during Milady's stay in England features Constance to a large extent, and is in my opinion actually very effective. The fact that even those of us who know the source material inside out have no idea *how* the inevitable is going to happen increases the tension enormously, and the change of emphasis to the relationship between the two women, rather than the seductive act we have seen several times before, gives both actresses a fresh chance to shine.
Richelieu, shorn of his Cardinal's title to avoid Church offence, has relatively little to do in this version, and D'Artagnan's nemesis Rochefort barely appears at all, though both actors make the most of what screen time they have. There is an effective scene at the end (again, owing nothing to Dumas) where Richelieu reminds the King of his dominion as the power behind the throne, only to save face in a graceful manoeuvre as Louis XIII temporarily asserts himself: we are quite certain that the King will soon be back under his thumb.
Overall, I was very impressed by the way in which this film captured the roistering, sometimes raucous, sometimes melodramatic spirit of its source material. Reading other people's comments about the silent version starring Douglas Fairbanks, I only wish I were likely to get the chance to see that as well!
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