From Studio Canal as part of the Vintage Classics range come The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers both from new 4K remasters.
The Three Musketeers starts with a young a very naive D’Artagnan (Michael York) leaving his small village to go to 17th Century Paris to make his fortune, He soon makes friends with the three musketeers: world-weary Athos (Oliver Reed), the arrogant Porthos (Frank Finlay) and the chivalric Aramis (Richard Chamberlain) but only after bravely challenging each of them to a duel after a mishap with each of them.
He also falls in love with the bumbling dressmaker to the Queen, Constance Bonacieux (Raquel Welch) who is already married. But the queen also secretly has a relationship with the English Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward). Still, Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) plots to prove the infidelity of the Queen to King Louis XIII to increase his own power and D’Artagnan and the musketeers must try to thwart his plans.
The Three Musketeers only uses half of the famous Dumas novel but does so with wit, and a freewheeling style that makes it a lot of fun to watch. It is helped by a wonderful cast and a story that moves at a fast and enjoyable pace, some of the humour is a bit forced, but it’s great to see British comic actors such as Spike Milligan (playing Constance’s husband) and Roy Kinnear in such a lavish production.
There is a lot of action with swordfights sprinkled throughout and done with some great stunt work but some of the actors were hurt. Michael York (D’Artagnan) had his leg cut in one duel and almost lost an eye in another. Oliver Reed (Athos) took a sword to the hand and Frank Findlay (Porthos) was struck in the face by a two-by-four.
There are a lot of comedic elements so you cannot take the film seriously at all. This has a lot to do with the director, Richard Lester who previously was known most famously for the films starring The Beatles, Help! and A Hard Days Night.
The film ends with a lot of loose ends but also the promise of a sequel which I presume was made back-to-back with this one. Enjoyable and silly entertainment.
The Four Musketeers now follows all four men as once again they do battle with the devious Cardinal Richelieu and his evil accomplice Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway), who are determined to wreak terrible revenge after being foiled in their plan to discredit the queen.
They kidnap D’Artagnan’s lover Constance Bonacieux and as the Musketeers try and save her the plot to assassinate the English Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward) is also in full swing and tragedy awaits.
While still having the fun element of the first film The Four Musketeers has its plot taking a long time to get going with lots of smaller episodes and humour that falls flat most of the time. The cast again does well (Christopher Lee as Rochefort stands out) and keeps you watching, but it’s only in the last half hour that things really start to move with a rousing and exciting finale.
Both films have great new 4K remastered images with great colours which really show off the scenery and costume design. The audio is again clear and precise and the score, especially in the sequel by Lalo Schifrin stands out. Extras are basic with some interviews and the vintage making-of featurettes.
Both films also available on 4K UHD
THREE MUSKETEERS – FILM – 8 PICTURE – 8 AUDIO – 7 EXTRAS -6
FOUR MUSKETEERS – FILM – 6 PICTURE 8.5 AUDIO – 7.5 EXTRAS – 6