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, ...
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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, 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 <email@example.com>
In 1625 an ambitious youth joins forces with THE THREE MUSKETEERS to save the French Queen's honor from the machinations of the cruel Cardinal Richelieu.
RKO does Dumas proud in this rousing version of the ancient swashbuckler. Too long ignored or slighted as dull or drab, it is in fact lavish & lively, with dashes of welcomed humor, and should keep the interest of most uncritical viewers. The absence of any major stars is actually a benefit, as the plot is able to speak for itself without being sifted through the skein of celebrity.
Initially, Walter Abel seems a curious choice for the impulsive D'Artagnan, but his exuberance & enthusiasm quickly envelop the role. Paul Lukas, Moroni Olsen & Onslow Stevens have fun as the title characters and the fact that there's very little reason to tell them apart does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.
One could wish for a bit more screen time for Ian Keith & Nigel de Brulier as the villains de Rochefort & Richelieu respectively, but Margot Grahame makes the most of her opportunities as the evil Milady de Winter.
Heather Angel provides the romantic stimulus for Mr. Abel, while Lumsden Hare as the Musketeer Captain & mild-mannered John Qualen as D'Artagnan's servant equip themselves well in small roles. Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Lionel Belmore as an innkeeper.
In his single scene as the Duke of Buckingham, British actor Ralph Forbes reveals the talent which, in a fairer world, would have made him a major Hollywood star.
Not surprisingly, the original story has been streamlined & altered in various ways and at least a couple of notable deaths have been omitted, so as to provide a happier fadeout.
What were the facts surrounding the historical Richelieu & Buckingham? Since the novel & films make much of their rivalry, a closer examination is in order.
Both men rose from semi-obscurity to positions of enormous power & influence in their respective kingdoms. Each found it necessary to dominate the weak sovereigns whose patronage they enjoyed. Both endured the utter contempt & hatred of powerful domestic factions allied against them. And were there ever a flirtation between the French Queen Anne of Austria and Buckingham, it was of a very mild nature. There certainly was nothing resembling The Adventure of the Queen's Diamonds and all the derring-do associated with it.
Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal and Duke de Richelieu (1585-1642), came from a minor gentry family which was saddled with enormous financial debt upon the death of his father. However, blessed with a very good brain & a manipulative mother, Richelieu used his intellectual charm to advance his ascent through the Byzantine levels of Church hierarchy. Once having caught the attention of Louis XIII Richelieu never looked back. Eventually wielding absolute authority, the Red Eminence took as his life's mission to thwart Spanish Habsburg hegemony in Europe and to crush all outbreaks of French Protestantism as they arose throughout the kingdom.
For his part, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628), had his extreme physical attractiveness to thank for grabbing the eye of James I - who liked to dance both ends of the ballroom - and later became the favourite of Charles I as well. The son of a knight, Buckingham soon rose to an eminence of power and angered the nobles by his monopoly of the king's affections and his arrogant accruement of great wealth. As a diplomat & military strategist, Buckingham was hopelessly inept and he needed the king's protection to save him from trial in the Star Chamber. Having failed disastrously in an attempt to succor the Huguenot of La Rochelle, France, he returned to England where he was quickly assassinated by a disgruntled naval officer. When news of Buckingham's death reached London the people rejoiced in the streets.
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