The Three Musketeers (1973 film)
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|The Three Musketeers|
|Directed by||Richard Lester|
|Produced by||Alexander Salkind
|Written by||George MacDonald Fraser|
|Based on||The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas père
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Editing by||John Victor Smith|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
March 29, 1974 (United States)
|Running time||105 minutes|
|Box office||$10.1 million (US/ Canada)|
The Three Musketeers is a 1973 film based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by George MacDonald Fraser (famous for his Flashman series of historical comic novels). It was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles, whom Lester had directed in two other films. It was intended to run for three hours, but later it was split into two, the second part becoming 1974's The Four Musketeers.  In 1989, the cast and crew returned to film The Return of the Musketeers, loosely based on Dumas' Twenty Years After.
The film adheres closely to the novel, but also injects a fair amount of humor. It was shot by David Watkins, with an eye for period detail. The fight scenes were choreographed by master swordsman William Hobbs.
The young d'Artagnan arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a king's musketeer. Quite unused to the city life, he makes a number of silly faux-pas. He comes into conflict with three musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, each of whom challenges him to a duel for some insult or embarrassment. Later, D'Artagnan helps them to defend themselves from Cardinal Richelieu's guards headed by Jussac, who arrive during the duel. He is invited to join them in their efforts to oppose the Cardinal, who wishes to increase his already considerable power over the king. D'Artagnan also begins an affair with his landlord's wife, Constance Bonacieux, who is the Queen's dressmaker.
Meanwhile the Duke of Buckingham, former lover of the Queen, turns up and asks for something in remembrance of her; she gives him her diamond necklace. The Cardinal learns of the incident and suggests to the none-too-bright King to throw a ball in his wife's honor, and request she wear the diamonds he gave her. The Cardinal also sends Milady de Winter to England to steal the necklace. She seduces the Duke and steals two of the necklace's diamonds. Meanwhile, the Queen has confided her troubles in Constance, who asks d'Artagnan to ride to England and get back the diamonds. D'Artagnan and the three musketeers set out, but encounter the Cardinal's men on the way. Only d'Artagnan and his man make it through to Buckingham, where they discover the loss of two of the diamond studs. The Duke replaces the two studs and d'Artagnan races back to Paris to deliver the necklace and save the Queen from embarrassment. He encounters Porthos, Athos, and Aramis on his way; they are wounded but not dead as d'Artagnan had feared.
The film ends with a sight gag, as the four musketeers and Constance walk away.
- Michael York as d'Artagnan
- Oliver Reed as Athos
- Frank Finlay as Porthos / O'Reilly
- Richard Chamberlain as Aramis
- Jean-Pierre Cassel as (King) Louis XIII
- Geraldine Chaplin as (Queen) Anne of Austria
- Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu
- Faye Dunaway as Milady de Winter
- Christopher Lee as the Count De Rochefort
- Simon Ward as the Duke of Buckingham
- Raquel Welch as Constance Bonacieux
- Spike Milligan as M. Bonacieux
- Roy Kinnear as Planchet
According to George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Lester became involved in the project when the producers briefly considered casting The Beatles as the musketeers and Lester had directed two films with the group. The Beatles idea fell by the wayside but Lester stayed. In late 1972 he hired Fraser to write the scripts, saying he wanted to make a four hour film and cast Richard Chamberlain as Aramis. It was later decided to turn the script into two films.
The movie was met with mostly positive reviews.  Vincent Canby of The New York Times had this to say about the film: "Mr. Lester seems almost exclusively concerned with action, preferably comic, and one gets the impression after a while that he and his fencing masters labored too long in choreographing the elaborate duels. They're interesting to watch, though they are without a great deal of spontaneity."
- Shivas, Mark (1973-08-05). "Lester's Back and the 'Musketeers' Have Got Him". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- Sloman, Tony (1997-03-25). "Obituary: Alexander Salkind". Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p232. Please note figures are rentals accruing to distributors and not total gross.
- Russo, Tom (2004-04-09). "Franchise This". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- Salmans, Sandra (1983-07-17). "FILM VIEW; THE SALKIND HEROES WEAR RED AND FLY HIGH". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p1-16
- "The Three Musketeers - The Queen's Diamonds". Varety. 1972-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- Canby, Vincent (1974-04-04). "Spirites 'Three Musketeers' (No. 6)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-11.