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 Post subject: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:39 am 
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Prince Judah
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Directed by Richard Lester
Production Year: 1973
stars Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Michael York as D'Artagnan, Richard Chamberlain,
Frank Finlay, Christopher Lee, Faye Dunaway as Milady, with Charlton Heston as Richelieu
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One of many film versions of the famous 17th-century novel by Alexander Dumas, this follows a young, naive Gascon, D'Artagnan, as he's sent by his father to the big city, Paris, in order to join the King's Musketeers. This proves to be rather difficult, as D'Artagnan's first order of business is to schedule duels with the 3 main Musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis - after clumsy run-ins with each. Soon, however, all 4 are involved in a plot by the power-hungry (or just powerful) Cardinal Richelieu (Heston) to denounce the Queen (Geraldine Chaplin), who is involved in a secret love affair with the English Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward). This also involves D'Artagnan with the Queen's dressmaker, clumsy Constance (Welch), the lethal swordsman Rochefort (Lee) and the deceptive Milady a.k.a. Lady de Winter (Dunaway).



Musket Trivia: the producers, the Salkinds, originally intended this with all-star comedians Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis, and then as a vehicle for the Beatles; this did not happen but they did get the director of the Beatles' films, Richard Lester. The Salkinds also (it's said) intended this as a long roadshow-type 3+ hour film but ended up splitting the footage into 2 films; the 2nd film was the sequel, The Four Musketeers (1974). Several of the actors sued, claiming they were paid for only one film. They never got double their money according to at least one source (Christopher Lee), just a token small bonus.


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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:44 am 
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Prince Judah
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Regarded by many as the best film version of the Musketeers, even though there have been other good ones, this one is also my favorite. It benefits from a truly superlative, superstar cast, all of whom give among their best performances, especially Oliver Reed, who was born to play the brooding, often-drunken Athos; this was Reed at his peak. York seems to have stepped out of the pages of the Dumas novel; the description of D'Artagnan in the early pages of book eerily matches the actor.

The Director, Lester, was also an uncanny choice for this supposedly historical piece; his film is brimming with historical detail and splendid period atmosphere, but also attaches chaotic action, intrigue and a steady stream of dazzling comedic moments. It helps to have a screenplay by George MacDonald Fraser (Royal Flash novels).
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And then there's Heston. Whenever I need to cite some performance of Heston's to show his range and talent to naysayers, I forget this one - probably because it was a supporting role; I usually bring up some starring role of his. But, this is one where he again made me forget that it's Heston. It's a supporting role (but not a bit part or cameo; I wasn't sure if I should include it in this forum, but I think it fits better in here than any other forum); he appears throughout the film. The actual Cardinal was (I heard) quite short - maybe 5 feet tall - so Heston stooped a bit and limped to lessen his impression; he still looks tall, no way around that, but overall he virtually disappears into this 17th-century character, a schemer, and the rare chance for Heston to develop a less-than-heroic characterization.

A triumph all around, this Musketeers film, and carried through to the 2nd film, which was a bit more poignant and somber in places.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwhSYnrO ... grec_index


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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:56 am 
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Prince Judah
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Christopher Lee, who played the villain Rochefort, recalled this film in the 2nd issue of the magazine CINEMA RETRO, in an article titled "Christopher Lee's Dangerous Liaisons." He suggested that filming this and the sequel was somewhat dangerous for the actors because of all the action and swordplay. Also - no surprise - he let on a few tidbits about Oliver Reed that paint the actor as sort of a lovable madman - the original wild & crazy guy, LOL. Lee said he knew Reed best among the actors.

Lee got along well with most of his fellow actors on the Musketeers films. About Heston, he had this to say:
Quote:
I got on quite well with Charlton Heston. I had already worked with him on Julius Caesar with John Gielgud. I thought he was very good as Richelieu - he was very cunning, sly and powerful.

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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:04 am 
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Prince Judah
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How about starting a discussion comparing the novel with the film, Chrysagon?

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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:34 pm 
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Prince Judah
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itsjudah24 wrote:
How about starting a discussion comparing the novel with the film, Chrysagon?

That's not a bad idea, Judah, but my only aim at the moment is to begin a discussion on the film because (1) I would need to re-read the novel and re-familiarize myself with it, having last read it 30 years ago and (2) there aren't many places on the internet to discuss such a film, besides IMDb and obscure forums which have comments like:
Quote:
This is the 1973 Richard Lester-directed Alexander Salkind film with Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Michael York, Christopher Lee, Faye Dunaway and that guy from the gun club.

That's an actual comment from another board and it's a polite one, but it obviously shows some negative bias off the bat (first post in a thread), before any actual discussion even, and this is something I don't have to worry about here. I was looking forward to hearing others here offer their appraisal of Heston in an unusual (for him) role.

btw, I hope you and Tizzy are all right; I just heard about a big earthquake in India -- hope all is well with you and yours...


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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:11 pm 
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Prince Judah
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I thank you Chrysagon, for your concern for those who have suffered the calamity in my country... personally I am ok. But since you have expressed a genuine sympathetic heart to ask about the earthquake I'll tell you something in a PM. Here I should concentrate on this good topic only.

I agree with you on Chuck's range and depth of acting, in reference to his portrayal of the Cardinal. He has shown admirable self-control, without falling back into his generally larger-than-life,and noble-heroic/tragic bearing. That comes out especially in those scenes when he, as the Cardinal, exercises the power of his superior political position, by inflicting a skilful psychological blackmail upon the other characters who are afraid of his position. He has employed much of pyrotechnics in this role, which, I believe to be the best mean of showing an actor's full strength. It is most evident, in my view, in his scenes with the villainess Millady, even she could not surpass him where clever plotting and a sophisticated ill-mind is required, rather than vulgar and seductive villainy.

Once somebody was joking about Chuck's 'obsession'(!) with physical acting, and his 'lack' of exercising 'intelligence', I told that person, "Just go and see The three Musketeers', a historical and by-nature action-based movie, where he lets the others fight and gallop on, and himself sits back, or simply paces around, delivering the best of his 'intelligent' and complex-characterisation". Really, I admire the scene where his scheming face is shown wonderfully in the candlelight...amazing expression from the same face which we have seen as Judah, Moses or El Cid! He has performed, I feel, with a deep insight into that historical character, and the novelist's representation of the real man.

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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:12 am 
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Prince Judah
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Very astute observations of Heston's portrayel of the Cardinal, Judah. Yes, this was in many ways a 180-degree turn from the roles Heston had played until this point, which had been very physical in the past. As late as Julius Caesar (1970) & Antony and Cleopatra (72), where-in he played the energetic Mark Antony, and his sci-fi film roles, Heston's roles were still much about his physical body, his physical prowess.

I remember reading somewhere years ago that Heston was up for the role of one of the Musketeers at the early stage of the casting - I think it was the role of Athos (eventually played by Oliver Reed). I never really understood that, if that was indeed the case; I think Heston was about a decade too old for that role in 1973; it's hard to picture him running about brandishing a sword by that point in his career. This was probably the producers seeking various big stars for their movie, like they got in Superman (1978-for which they got Brando and Gene Hackman among others; the irony there, for me, is that Heston would have been better suited to play Jor-El, Superman's father, instead of Brando).

Heston himself probably thought he would be wrong for one of the brawling Musketeers at that point and saw an opportunity to play a different kind of character in the Cardinal - the puppet master, the intellectual villain - similar to a Shakespearean character.


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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:59 pm 
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Prince Judah
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Yes, 'Shakespearean'! That's the term. I wonder what Shakespeare would have done with Cardinal Richelieu, if he were born in the 18th century. And I forgot to mention another thing-- that Chuck skilfully 'Frenchified' his attitudes and manners for this role. He became the 'British'(in Khartoum) Gordon, too... that was also a very good performance. But Richelieu is even better, as I feel, because an well-read and intelligent actor shouldn't have much problem in interchanging his 'American' personality with the 'British' character or vice-versa: the cultures are not too remote. In case of roles like Moses and Ben-Hur one can fairly and aptly emphasise more on the nobler and greater spirit of Judeo-Christianity than on a limited 'Jewishness' itself. And one does not need to be 'Italian' too play Michelangelo, for a Renaissance artist could easily be viewed as more universal than belonging to any specific culture. But in case of portraying a 17th c. French diplomat(I am not speaking of the French language but the characteristics and fashions of a period in a specific culture), the actor is required to have even more dynamic talents and flexibility of what we call in Shakespeare-studies, 'Dramatic objectivity'.

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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:58 am 
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Prince Judah
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I found a good representation of Heston's performance in this film. This 5 minutes is composed of two scenes; the first one is D'Artagnan's first confrontation with Rochefort, a rather comical one. This also has an appearance by Faye Dunaway as Milady. Then it skips ahead to the key scene between Rochefort (Christopher Lee) and Richelieu (Heston). Listen to the dialog in this one and how the relationship between the villain and his master is established. This demonstrates the advantage of having the right writer create the script for such a period film, as I mentioned in an earlier post:
__________ :richelieu:

(btw, there are some jump cuts later in this video, so not all was recorded in this video as it actually appears in the film)


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 Post subject: Re: The Three Musketeers (1973)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:51 pm 
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Prince Judah
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Not very many responses to the Three Musketeers thread... I'm guessing that not too many members here have seen the film. The film is playing today on the TCM channel, at 5:00 PM Pacific time USA and 8:00 PM Eastern, for those who do have that channel. TCM then will show a couple of the older Three Musketeers film versions after - though these aren't as good... The 1948 version isn't too bad.

Is it coincidence that a new Three Musketeers film version is being released to theaters in a week..? I've seen the previews -- it looks like an FX-laden action film... and hard to take very seriously. I think one of the female characters (either Milady or Constance) has been turned into a sword-fighting super-heroine with superhuman abilities... :roll:


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