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In many ways, this is an unnecessary re-telling of a story we have seen
realized many times before (and since), and often filmed better. It was
certainly not Beau Bridges's finest hour.
What was unusual and certainly the major selling point of the film was that the leading ladies (Andress and Kristel) would shed their clothes on quite a few occasions. As this film's US rating is PG and as the American running time is 12 minutes shorter than the British 15-rated release (which is the one I saw) it is highly likely that most if not all nudity was cut from the American version. Which is a shame as this is the only proper reason to watch this film.
¨The fifth Musketeer¨ is packed with derring-do , intrigue,romance,
action and exciting swordplay. An excellent casting and lavish
production partially shot in Vienna make for a fairly amusement
swashbuckler , however it drags in some places. This is a new version
of the Dumas's novel with a handsome Beau Bridges in a dual role. This
is a slight and simple retelling about the durable Alexandre Dumas's
novel and is set in 17th century French court where two twins brothers
( Beau Bridges playing a double role),separated at birth, one nasty
become Louis XIV of France compromised to marry to Mª Teresa of Spain(
Silvia Kristel ) and the another Phillippe is unjustly imprisoned in
the Bastilla. Both of whom are sons of the Queen mother Anna of Austria
, turned nun( Olivia De Havilland). Later on ,Phillippe is jailed in
prison and hidden his identity wearing an iron mask but his existence
threatens the kingdom .But D'Artagnan( Cornel Wilde), Athos (Alan Hale
) and Aramis (Jose Ferrer) and the Minister named Colbert( Rex
Harrison)scheme a plan to free Phillippe clashing against a malicious
Fouquet( Ian McShane) ,the Louis XIV's favorite. They join forces for
royal vengeance with the shout : ¨One for all and all for one¨.They are
planning a plot involving substitution by the lookalike brother.
It's a mediocre rendition from the immortal novel with quite but wasted budget .The picture contains rousing action, intrigue,exciting swordplay,romantic adventure, and mayhem . Marvelous main actors completed by stellar cast full of classical and veteran players as Cornel Wilde, Rex Harrison, Olivia De Havilland and several others. And an agreeable Beau Bridges as suffering prisoner turning to valiant swashbuckler and selfish king . It contains some nudism , of course it's in charge of experts actresses as Silvia Kristel and Ursula Andress, nevertheless in some versions is cut. Acceptable cinematography by the classic Jack Cardiff, recently passed away, who had a distinguished and long career crowned with some Oscar . Evocative musical score by the Italian composer named Riz Ortalani . Lush production design is well reflected on the luxurious interiors and exteriors filmed at Austrian palaces. The motion picture is regularly realized by Ken Annakin. This classy story is subsequently remade on several versions , firstly is shot with Douglas Fairbanks( silent rendition, 1929), by James Whale (1939)with Louis Hayward and Joan Bennet,finally in 1998 by Randall Wallace with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich , furthermore TV version by Mike Newell with Richard Chamberlain and Ralph Richardson .¨The Fifth Musketeer¨ is an inferior and silly adaptation of the classy that will appeal to the costumer genre buffs and it results to be an average adaptation with big budget based on the classic tale .
This retelling of Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask makes for an ok film for a rainy day, but is hardly an epic swasbuckler. Beau Bridges is good in the dual roles of Louis and Phillipe, as is Rex Harrison as Colbert. Ian McShayne is delightfully evil as Fouquet and Ursulla Andress is wonderfully bitchy. Cornell Wilde and Alan Hale Jr. reprise their roles (sort of) from the film At Swords Point. Papa Bridges is around as a decidedly unreligious Aramis, and Jose Ferrer trades Cyrano's nose, for Athos' tunic. Sylvia Kristel is rather wooden as Marie Therese. In all, there is little for the actors to work with, but the scenery is nice and a few action sequences are quite good. Still one could have hoped for better things with this cast.
This may not be the best version of the story (The Man in the Iron
Mask), but its period production values, good pace and some of its top
cast lift it above the "B" remake some would rate it.
It perhaps marks a minor renaissance of the unrepentant swashbuckler movie. Beautifully filmed on location (Vienna passing for Paris), it delights the eye. There is enough slapstick sword-fighting to please all but the absolute connoisseur; the tension of the plot is well maintained; it is simply fun to watch. Memorable performances by Rex Harrison as Colbert (in one of his last movie roles) and Ian McShane as Fouquet help to keep the viewer's attentions when others of the rather mixed cast falter.
Ursula Andress' (or "Ursula Undress" as she was somewhat unfairly nicknamed after a Playboy Magazine appearance) convincing portrayal of the King's mistress would undoubtedly have been enhanced (as other commentators have suggested) by the restoration of the nudity cut by the US censors (the American running time is 12 minutes shorter than the British).
All in all, not a movie to buy for one's DVD library, but to rent for a rainy day or watch on TV and appreciate for its fun.
THE FIFTH MUSKETEER - what a big disappointment. All that amazing
talent, all those famous names, and only a couple of adequate
performances in the entire film. What went wrong? I have the sneaking
suspicion there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians working in
this film. The filmmakers probably found it hard to control the big
names, and it shows. Clever dialogue would have made it possible to
overlook the tepid, unoriginal script, but alas, there is very little.
Even if I were not an Ian McShane fan I would be forced to admit his characterisation of Fouquet remains the only one in the film which seems fully formed. Even though he plays the villain I found myself cheering him on because he was the only one with any charisma or humour in the entire film. The female performers are appealing. I hear the UK version has some nudity; the US VHS version has been cut to the point of somnambulism.
Trivia for McShane fans: The hijinx appear to all have taken place off-set rather than on. During the making of THE FIFTH MUSKETEER, Sylvia Kristel (of the EMMANUELLE soft porn series of films) and Ian McShane became involved in a highly-publicized, scandalous long- term affair. And McShane has related memories (complete with a spot-on vocal impersonation) of Rex Harrison imperiously barking orders at him to get out of his light during filming. It was that kind of set.
It's not a bad movie, but the best parts are played by the women. Ursula Andress looks absolutely incredible (like that comes as a surprise) and is very convincing as the bitchy yet extremely alluring Louise de la Vallière, mistress to King Louis. Sylvia Kristal is also very good in her role as well. If you are looking just to relax and watch a movie that you don't need to think about, this is the one. If you are a fan of women in corsets... have no fear, Ursula can satisfy that pretty well.
Despite a stellar cast, The Fifth Musketeer still remains just an
average retelling of The Man In The Iron Mask, Alexandre Dumas's sequel
novel to The Three Musketeers.
Ironically in the role of the aging D'Artagnan is Cornel Wilde who I would love to have seen in The Three Musketeers back in the day. Wilde in fact was a fencing champion, he was on the US Olympic team before he became an actor.
No preliminary tale of the birth of the twins to Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. We meet the grownup Louis XIV and Phillipe of Gascony as grown young men. Phillippe's been trained in the military arts by his foster father D'Artagnan and the other Three Musketeers, Jose Ferrer as Athos, Alan Hale, Jr. as Porthos, and Lloyd Bridges as Aramis. Louis and Phillippe are played by Beau Bridges.
That seems to be the main weakness of the film. I think Beau himself would be the first to agree he hasn't the swashbuckling élan of Louis Hayward, but he also isn't as good Leonardo DiCaprio in a later version. As for Queen Maria Theresa whom we meet as the Infanta of Spain, Marie Kristel also lacks some passion. If I were either of these twins I'd have taken up with royal mistress Ursula Andress in a Parisian minute. Now she's full of passion.
Rex Harrison and Ian McShane are an interesting pair of dueling ministers, Colbert and Fouquet, both of whom did vie for Louis XIV's favor, but well into his reign. McShane is not as sly as Joseph Schildkraut in the 1939 The Man With The Iron Mask. Harrison seems preoccupied like he was waiting for his salary check to clear. For the very few minutes Olivia DeHavilland is on screen as Queen Mother Anne of Austria, she's completely wasted.
The cinematography is grand, it always is when Jack Cardiff does it. The film was shot in Vienna which apparently looks more 17th century than Paris does now. But Ken Annakin who usually does films that roar with action and adventure seems not to be able to get this one to rise to the occasion.
It's strange that THE FIFTH MUSKETEER leaves me with the impression
that it's hardly worth watching despite a stellar cast and some
gorgeous Austrian scenery. BEAU BRIDGES (in a dual role as a commoner
and Louis XIV) does a competent but bland job in the film's major role,
while assorted guest stars fill the supporting cast with some name
value. One of the guest stars is OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND who might just as
well have phoned in her role. She has about three minutes of screen
time, at the most.
None of the main roles are really fleshed out and the plot is a muddled mess. JOSE FERRER, CORNEL WILDE, ALAN HALE, JR. and LLOYD BRIDGES are competent enough as the four musketeers while REX HARRISON and HELMUT DANTINE merely add some name recognition to the cast, as does de Havilland in her tiny role as Queen Anne (about whom little is explained).
It's a retread of familiar material done much better in the past, territory that would be revisited in the future with even more dash and vigor. A sleep inducing film that probably only gets male attention because URSULA ANDRESS and SYLVIA KRISTEL provide some feminine pulchritude in provocative period costumes.
The most unforgivable aspect are the fight scenes of the swashbuckling kind but badly choreographed duels, unlike the sort of thing done so splendidly in the Flynn epics. The blades flash without much flourish.
Summing up: Totally uninspired piece of work notable only for some lavish costumes and good location photography in Austria.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Reviewer suchenwi, I'm with you. I liked this film back when it first
came out, and I still like it. And the most basic reason is that it is
great fun. In fact, when you think about it, all the various filmed
depictions of musketeers are just made for that very reason...just to
have a little fun.
The film has a good cast. I've always liked Beau Bridges, and thought him to be a more enjoyable actor than his brother; however, his performance here (as Louis XIV / Philippe of Gascony) in certain scenes seems just a tad hyper. Rex Harrison, as political plotter Colbert is very good, and I can actually hear him here (I once saw him in a play at the Kennedy Center, and though we sat 5th row middle, we couldn't hear his mumbling, as was pointed out by the review the next morning in the "Washington Post"). Sylvia Kristel (most famous for her roles as Emmanuelle) is quite attractive, but it difficult to say if she was a good actress as Princess Maria Theresa since all her dialog was dubbed by another actress! Ursula Andress was around...as the king's high class whore...and her acting was as good as always...which isn't saying much. The 4 Musketeers are played by Cornel Wilde, Alan Hale, Jr., Jose Ferrer Lloyd Bridges, and they all did very nicely, and it was good seeing them in these roles. Ian McShane played the bad guy...and did well at it (he seems to have a talent for such roles). Olivia deHavilland is here briefly as the King's Mother; a small role, and her final before retiring.
With some variations, this is "The Man In The Iron Mask". It's a good story and great fun. It was filmed in Austria, and is beautifully done. (Trivia -- the Musketeers made a cameo appearance on Perry Como's Christmas special that year, which was also being filmed in Austria).
Is this the finest version of this general story? Probably not. But I enjoyed it. You probably will, too.
Since the copy I acquired of this film bears the year of copyright as
1977, I can only assume it was delayed by 2 years because it was
preceded by the 1977 TV version of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK given
that the title under review is merely another adaptation of this
classic Alexandre Dumas tale! Made on a grand scale, with a large and
international star-studded cast, the film apparently intended to ape
the jokey style of Richard Lester's recent two-part (1973/1974)
rendition of Dumas' "The Three Musketeers". However, director Annakin
was too much of an old-style film-maker to make that work and, in any
case, his handling is generally uninspired merely content to let the
script (reworking James Whale's superior 1939 version!), the actors and
Jack Cardiff's gorgeous color photography tell the tale, as it were
(aided, of course, by Riz Ortolani's suitably rousing score).
Amusingly, top billing here goes to the ladies: heroine Sylvia Kristel (fresh off the erotic "Emmanuelle" series, she even gets away with some very mild nudity!) and villainess Ursula Andress (at the tail-end of her stardom really but surprisingly enthusiastic). Incidentally, one of the novelties here is that Andress' Mademoiselle La Valliere (I was not familiar with the character when I encountered her in J. Sheridan LeFanu's "The Room In The Dragon Volant", which I subsequently turned into a script!) gets much more screen-time than her equivalent in the 1939 'original'; indeed, the two women have a number of confrontations throughout notably when Andress sets a falcon on Kristal. The male lead, however, was a gross miscalculation as Beau Bridges' style of acting is too modern to pass muster in a period romp and in this company (though he must have relished getting close to two beauties such as he is flanked by here)! A measure of the (cynical) times, however, is the fact that the assassination attempt on the King (for which, being aware of it, he has deliberately sent his unwitting twin) resolves itself not by a persuasively sympathetic speech as in the 1939 version but rather a full-bloodied yet highly improbable action sequence! The Four Musketeers, then, are played up as much older than in the earlier version (they still get involved in plenty of derring-do but only 2 expire at the end): Cornel Wilde is D'Artagnan, Jose' Ferrer Athos, Lloyd Bridges (yes, Beau's dad!) Aramis and Alan Hale Jr. in his own real-life father's old role as Porthos interestingly, 27 years prior to this, Wilde and Hale had appeared together in a similar swashbuckler, actually playing the sons of their respective characters here, AT SWORD'S POINT (1952)!
Likewise, an over-age Rex Harrison 'replaces' Walter Kingsford as the Musketeers' court insider though the muddled script fails to properly explain the reason behind the beating he receives towards the end! Ian McShane, on the other hand, is perhaps too young for the villainous Fouquet and, again, he emanates from a school of acting which jars with the rest of his colleagues (though he is certainly fun to watch). Olivia De Havilland (in her final theatrical appearance), then, is something of an embarrassment popping up in a couple of scenes (confronting one Bridges and acknowledging another) as the former Queen-turned-Nun and Bernard Bresslaw (who seems to have strayed in from the "Carry On" series) is a blind inn-keeper! The prologue depicting the children's birth and enforced separation has been dropped here presumably to instill an air of mystery into the proceedings; oddly, too, the all-important mask is given an impossibly clunky design (looking very much like a cooking-pot!). Finally, I have just realized that the version of the film I acquired and watched was 13 minutes short of the full-length running-time!
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