Saturday, September 3, 2011

3 Musketeers (1973)

Starting Monday Unseen film is going to review a week of films that are “labors” to get through. All of the films run over four hours long. It’s been a tough week to write up simply because the films so long.

As a means of easing into the week this weekend we’re going to take a look at two films that started out as single film, but somewhere along the way the producers decided they could make more money if they split the film in half and release it as two separate films. Of course lawsuits resulted when the cast found out that they were going to be paid for one film but that the produces were going to be getting a pay day for two.

The films are The Three Musketeers and the Four Musketeers which were directed by Richard Lester and released in 1974. When the films were originally conceived it was a single film which would be shown with an intermission however as the footage came in the realized that the film would be better split with the lighter tone of the first film separated from the darker second half.

This is the story of young D'Artagnan who goes to Paris to find his destiny and falls in with some musketeers. Through luck and his skill with his sword he is swept up in events that put the life of the Queen in danger. And in this version things go on until they end up happily for everyone but the bad guys (things get dark in the second half of the book which is the basis of tomorrows film, The 4 Musketeers.)

It has a cast to die for: Oliver Reed, Michael York, Frank Finley, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Roy Kinear, Raquel Welch, Simon Ward, Geraldine Chaplin,Jean Pierre Cassel and others. It has a wickedly funny script, a marvelous sense of place and of fun, it it's full of non-stop action. It's one of the most fun films you are ever likely to see.

I love the film to pieces.

To me this is the best version of the story. It starts and goes straight on until the end. It's the one that feels the most real. Sure there are big stars in it but it really feels like it's happening. (as much as I love the Gene Kelly Version it's still Hollywood).

This is a great action film where it was all done with real people and real swords. Christopher Lee was very proud of his fencing in this film ( if you can get a hold of the DVD with the documentary about the making of the film, he will tell you what an absolute bitch it was to fight with a patch over one eye.

The film is so light and airy that the producers were right to cut off the darker second half. Yes that where much of the meet of the film is, but at the same time after two hours of romping over France the last thing you want to do is to be forced to drive on into the darkness for another two hours. It was right to cut it so that we can enjoy the triumph that ends the film, and return to the characters at a later time if we so desire.

This is very much one of my favorite adventure films and if you've never seen it you're in for a treat since unlike say the way out adventures of Jack Sparrow, no computers were used.

Currently out on DVD and occasionally on cable, this is a film to keep an eye out for.... is the second half cum sequel The 4 Musketeers which I talk about tomorrow.

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