I won’t lie, I have a tender spot for the Disney version of The Three Musketeers from 1993 with Kieffer Sutherland. It’s just a joy, and the 1948 version is in much the same vein as Gene Kelly brings the classic role of D’Artagnan to life in this energetic and light-hearted take on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, which was the next film on my 101 Action Movies viewing.
Vincent Price is the villainous Richelieu, the incredible Lana Turner is the Lady de Winter, and Angela Lansbury takes on the role of Queen Anne.
The film has a rather convoluted plot, centering on some royal jewels, and Richelieu exploiting their theft (which he orchestrated) to urge the declaration of war between France and England.
Kelly, plays the young boy from Gascony who dreams of being a musketeer, and with his father’s sword and a worn down horse ride off to the big city to make a name for himself.
There he meets Athos (Van Helfin), Porthos (Gig Young) and Aramis (Robert Coote), and in the classic sequence takes umbrage with each of them, and schedules one duel after another, which allows for a funny moment, as you see the realization dawn on Kelly’s face as he knows what he’s in for.
Once they meet up for the duel(s) things shift from light-hearted comedy to outright romp as the first fight sequence takes place with the arrival of Richelieu’s man, Rochefort (Ian Keith) and some cronies. Kelly bounds about energetically, leaping and fighting with a big smile on his face.
The further we move into the story, which is filled with romance, supplied by D’Artagnan’s love interest Constance (June Allyson), seduction and betrayal by Lady De Winter, revelations of the past from Athos, the more serious it begins to play. It slowly reels you into everything that is going on, hooking you with the fun, and then holding your attention with the plot.
It’s been years since I’ve actually read the original novel, but I do remember enough to see that the dropped all references to the Catholic Church in this film, Richelieu is no longer a cardinal, he’s simply King Louis XIII’s (Frank Morgan) chief adviser. Oh well, the spirit of the novel remains, and it does play as an engaging film, just for the action sequences alone, which Kelly helped to coordinate.
Lana Turner is scintillating in period costume, with a little heart beauty mark on her cheek, I can totally see what the brouhaha over her was all about!
Some may see the ending as a bit anti-climatic, the villains don’t seem to be properly punished, but the fellows walk off happy at the end of the picture, despite the fact that two of them are suffering from broken hearts.
As fun as the film is, every time I hear Gene Kelly talk, or that big smile spreads across his face, I can only see him in Singin’ In The Rain (one of my favorite musicals) and I can’t take him completely seriously.
Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable film.
What’s your favorite version of the story?