The Three Musketeers (1933 serial)

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The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers.jpg
Directed by
Written by
Based onThe Three Musketeers
1844 novel
by Alexandre Dumas
Produced byNat Levine
Edited byRay Snyder
Music byLee Zahler
Distributed byMascot Pictures
Release date
  • April 7, 1933 (1933-04-07)
Running time
12 chapters (210 min)
Film (96 min)
CountryUnited States

The Three Musketeers (aka Three Musketeers) is a 1933 American pre-Code film serial directed by Armand Schaeffer and Colbert Clark, and produced by Nat Levine for Mascot Pictures.[1] The film serial was very loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel The Three Musketeers, with the musketeers changed into three soldiers in the French Foreign Legion, and d'Artagnan being reconfigured as Lt. Tom Wayne (played by John Wayne), a pilot in the United States military.[2][3]

Wayne only received fourth billing behind Raymond Hatton, Francis X. Bushman, Jr. and Jack Mulhall who play the three legionnaires.[4] Lon Chaney Jr. had a co-starring role in the serial, mainly appearing in Chapter One.[5]


In the harsh deserts of North Africa, the French Foreign Legion provides a military presence. Lt. Tom Wayne is framed for the murder of Armand Corday, the brother of his fiancé. He vows to capture the real killer, a mysterious Arab terrorist known only as El Shaitan. He encounters three bumptious legionnaires: Clancy, an Irishman always spoiling for a fight; Renard, a wily Frenchman; and Schmidt, a German who loves sausages. They are the surviving members of a Foreign Legion unit that was wiped out in an attack.

Nicknamed the "Devil of the Desert", El Shaitan remains a shadowy figure, hiding his face and his true identity, as a result of which many people are mistakenly suspected of being the cult leader in the course of the serial, while other characters impersonate him for their own ends. At a meeting place called, "The Devil's Circle", El Shaitan commands a fanatic desert cult, a secret society formed to fight against the French authorities.

When Clancy, Renard and Schmidt are trapped by a horde of Berber tribesmen, Lt. Wayne quickly stops the attack using the machine gun mounted on his aircraft. The three legionnaires are in constant danger but Wayne comes to their rescue many times, acting as a modern-day d'Artagnan. Eventually the trio, with the aid of their new friend, triumph over their adversaries.


[N 1]

The Three Musketeers title card screenshot
John Wayne as Lt. Tom Wayne


Like many other serials, The Three Musketeers was re-edited into a feature film version when it was re-released. In 1946, Favorite Films Corporation edited the serial into a 60-minute feature film called Desert Command. The chapter screen titles were eliminated to create a more continuous flow.[7]


  1. The Fiery Circle
  2. One for All and All for One
  3. The Master Spy
  4. Pirates of the Desert
  5. Rebel Rifles
  6. Death's Marathon
  7. Naked Steel
  8. The Master Strikes
  9. The Fatal Cave
  10. Trapped
  11. The Measure of a Man
  12. The Glory of Comrades


John Wayne[edit]

During the 1930s, after starring in The Big Trail (1930), its subsequent commercial failure meant that Wayne was relegated to minor roles in A-pictures, or starring, with his name over the title, in many low-budget Poverty Row Westerns, mostly at Monogram Pictures and serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation. Wayne would star in two other Mascot serials: The Shadow of the Eagle (1932) and The Hurricane Express (1932).[9][N 2]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Frazer played both the masked El Shaitan and Major Booth but, once unmasked, El Shaitan's identity turned out to be one of the other suspects. Cline considers this "all quite confusing."[6]
  2. ^ By Wayne's own estimation, he appeared in about 80 horse operas from 1930 to 1939.[10]


  1. ^ Weiss and Goodgold 1973, p. 43.
  2. ^ Rainey 2005, p. 542.
  3. ^ Harmon and Glut 1973, p. 325.
  4. ^ Harmon and Glut 1972, p. 326.
  5. ^ Weiss, Ken and Ed Goodgold. To be Continued ...: A Complete Guide to Motion Picture Serials. New York: Bonanza Books, 1973. ISBN 0-517-166259.
  6. ^ Cline 1984, p. 143.
  7. ^ "Profile:'Desert Command' (1946).", 2019. Retrieved: July 8, 2019.
  8. ^ Cline 1984, p. 207.
  9. ^ Clooney 2002, pp. 195–196.
  10. ^ Clooney 2002, p. 196.


  • Cline, William C. "9. They Who Also Serve (The Citizens)"; "Filmography", In the Nick of Time. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1984, ISBN 978-0-89950-101-7.
  • Clooney, Nick. The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections on the Screen. New York: Atria Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-74341-043-4.
  • Harmon, Jim and Donald F. Glut. The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 978-0-385-09079-7.
  • Rainey, Buck. Serials and Series: A World Filmography, 1912–1956. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010. ISBN 978-1-47660-448-0.
  • Shaheen, Jack G. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001. ISBN 978-1-56656-388-8.
  • Weiss, Ken and Ed Goodgold. To be Continued ...: A Complete Guide to Motion Picture Serials. New York: Bonanza Books, 1973. ISBN 0-517-166259.

External links[edit]

Download or view online[edit]

Preceded by Mascot Serial
The Three Musketeers (1933)
Succeeded by