Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Overlooked Movies: The Three & Four Musketers

“‘The Three Musketeers’ is what the industry needs. Let’s do without the water closets and go back to crinoline and lace, eye patches and feathers. Society deserves an escapist film now and again.” ~Oliver Reed

The Three Musketeers:
The young D'Artagnan arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a king's musketeer. He meets and quarrels with three men, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, each of whom challenges him to a duel. D'Artagnan finds out they are musketeers and is invited to join them in their efforts to oppose Cardinal Richelieu, who wishes to increase his already considerable power over the king. D'Artagnan must also juggle affairs with the charming Constance Bonancieux and the passionate Lady De Winter, a secret agent for the cardinal.

Click here to watch a classic sword fight from The Three Musketeers:

The Four Musketeers:
D'Artagnan has become a Musketeer. Protestants hold La Rochelle, and the Queen loves Buckingham, who'll soon send ships to support the rebels. Richelieu enlists Rochefort to kidnap Constance, the Queen's go-between and D'Artagnan's love. The Cardinal uses the wily, amoral Milady de Winter to distract D'Artagnan. But soon, she is D'Artagnan's sworn enemy, and she has an unfortunate history with Athos as well. Milady goes to England to dispatch Buckingham; the Musketeers fight the rebels. Milady, with Rochefort's help, then turns to her personal agenda. Can D'Artagnan save Constance, defeat Rochefort, slip de Winter's ire, and stay free of the Cardinal? All for one, one for all.

A great scene from The Four Musketeers featuring Oliver Reed & Faye Dunaway:

Fun Trivia:
The original film was initially conceived as a Beatles vehicle by veteran Beatle director Richard Lester who did actually end up directing this version.

The Three Musketeers was made mostly on location in Spain. The two-million pound budget took care of a crew of over 200, on 55 locations, with 110 separate and distinct sets and a transport corps of 90 vehicles.

This film production used real swords instead of prop swords, many were injured and Oliver Reed was stabbed.

Various sources including Charlton Heston's memoirs say that Heston was offered one of the Musketeers - the Oliver Reed or Frank Finlay part - but Heston passed on this role or roles because it was too demanding he had just done a run of action roles also because the part was a bit small so he chose to play a cameo.

Jean-Pierre Cassel's (Louis XIII) voice is overdubbed by Richard Briers and Georges Wilson (Treville) was dubbed by Michael Hordern.

There is a third movie in this series, 1989's The Return of the Musketeers based on Dumas' 15 Years After. The entire cast as well as original director Richard Lester returned. This time it's 1649 and Mazarin hires the impoverished D'Artagnan to find the other musketeers: Cromwell has overthrown the English king, so Mazarin fears revolt, particularly from the popular Beaufort. Porthos, bored with riches and wanting a title, signs on, but Aramis, an abbé, and Athos, a brawler raising an intellectual son, assist Beaufort in secret. When they fail to halt Beaufort's escape from prison, the musketeers are expendable, and Mazarin sends them to London to rescue Charles I. They are also pursued by Justine, the avenging daughter of Milady de Winter, their enemy 20 years ago. They must escape England, avoid Justine, serve the Queen, and secure Beauford's political reforms. Sadly during the filming of the movie, actor Roy Kinnear died after falling off his horse.

The Duke of Buckingham's billiard room and the long hall behind it at his English estate is a leftover set from Patton, it is also seen in The Four Musketeers, where Milady and Buckingham speak about American Indians and also serves as a set of rooms in The Return Of The Musketeers for a different character in France some 10 years after the action of the first two films. Also, the gown worn by Faye Dunaway during the Ball sequence at the end, is also the main gown worn by Jenny Agutter in The 1977 version of The Man In The Iron Mask.

Initially intended and shot as one film, The Three Musketeers was made into two separate movies when it became apparent during the editing stages that the film was too long. The Four Musketeers was a hit with fans but the cast felt cheated. The actors sued the producers claiming they were tricked into thinking everything they shot was to be part of The Three Musketeers. They won their case in court, but did notreceive as much money as they would have if they were paid separately for both films.

Fun Quotes:
Porthos: You know, it strikes me that we would be better employed ringing Milady's pretty neck than shooting these poor devils of protestants. I mean, what are we killing them for? Because they sing psalms in French and we sing them in Latin?
Aramis: Porthos, have you no education? What do you think religious wars are all about?

Sea Captain: This pass is for one person.
D'Artagnan: I am only one person. He is a servant.

D'Artagnan: Well, if I am to die on my first day in Paris; at least it will be at the hands of a Musketeer.

MiLady DeWinter: I need a bath. I reek of England and Calvinism.

D'Artagnan: Athos, are you hurt?
Athos: Hurt? What I am is drunk.

On the Movies
Richard Chamberlain on Oliver Reed:
"Oliver Reed was a terrifying presence. Extremely dangerous man. He could be very sweet, but if he turned on you, he could make life terrible for you. He was up all night, drinking, eating goldfish out of the aquariums, then coming to work the next day and being fine."

Alex Salkind on the legal issues raised by making a second film out of footage from the first:
"That's history now, we none of us lose any sleep over it. If you're in the business of big money pro­ductions, everyone likes to make a little stir now and then with lawyers. It's part of their career, part finding the rules of the game, and part genuine misunder­standings. In the Musketeers dispute, it's my opinion we could have gone to court and won the case, no problem. But no one wants to drag these affairs through the courts; it's expensive, and it's a very long business whether you win or lose. So with the Musketeers we agreed to give the people involved a percentage of the second film, The Four Musketeers. The Superman dispute, that too, though it was more protracted, we finally settled out of court.

Christopher Lee on the difficult production:
I had an eye patch so I could not see anything coming from the left. And it was not easy and the heat was over 100 degrees in Spain, in summer, in August and wearing all those clothes and on high heels and uneven ground and flies all around you. It was a tough film but very entertaining, very amusing, but a tough picture to make. Mind you there were compensations, Faye Dunaway was my lady friend and we had a wonderful cast.


Anonymous said...

I'll watch anything with Oliver Reed.

Becca said...

So will I, I love Oliver Reed! It's ashame we don't have an actor of his calibur and excess working today.

Anonymous said...

Ever seen "Curse of the Werewolf"? Bizarre movie.

Becca said...

No I haven't seen that one's on the list of movies to see though.

Allen Lulu said...

A favorite Reed movie is I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name.
Saw it on a double bill matinee with Get to Know Your Rabbit after a drug infused weekend binge in the 80's. Loved it.

Wendel said...

Great films, both of them.
Pity they do not show them much anymore. All you get today is the Disney one with Charlie Sheen.

Even TCM doesn't show it and they show "Giant Spider Invasion."