The Three Musketeers novel by Alexandre Dumas was first serialized in March of 1844. It recounts the adventures of a young man named D’Artagnan after he travels to Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guard. The friends he makes are the musketeers for whom the novel is named- Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The book was incredibly popular at the time and has proved even more successful as a movie. The first film I could find was 1903 and since then there have been dozens of retellings, re-imaginings, sequels, prequels, serializations, mini series and cross-overs. Some of the ones I found include Tri Mushketyora from Russia, Los Tres Mosqueteros from Spain, El forsane el talata from Egypt, Se tofangdar from Iran and Long men san jian ke from Malaysia. Obviously a good story knows no borders
CPL has no less than 9 versions:
1)We have the 1921 silent with arguably one of the world’s greatest swashbucklers, Douglas Fairbanks. If you have never seen Fairbanks in action, don't let the non-talkie put you off. In fact embrace the lack of words and just enjoy his amazing athletic ability 2) the 1939 with Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers;
3) 1948 with Lana Turner, Gene Kelly ,Vincent Price and June Allyson-not so much swashing here as dancing; 4) from BBC in 1966 with Jeremy Brett of Sherlock Holmes fame;
5) The 1974 release is likely one you are familiar with. This had a huge and impressive cast with the big names de jour including Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Lee and Charlton Heston. This one comes as a double and has the Four Musketeers sequel. These are great fun.
6) Another one likely on your radar is 1993’s release with young guns Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, Oliver Platt and Tim Curry.
7) 2004 from Disney- with Mickey, Donald and Goofy--- what inspired casting!!
8) Barbie and the Three Musketeers- animated of course. 9) and I can barely bring myself to mention this one- it’s with the Three Stooges.
A good cross over is The Man in the Iron Mask which blends two stories by Dumas. In this 1997 release the 4 amigos are trying to save the wrongly imprisoned “man” from the evil clutches of Louis the 14th. The dual role is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, in one of the few things he’s done that I didn’t care for. But I enjoyed the older, wiser, and more careworn Musketeers as played by Jeremy Irons, Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich and Gerard Deparedieu.
Now of course all things aren’t created equal so I leave you to pick and choose for yourself- my money is on Michael York (it made him a star), and Douglas Fairbanks. This brings me to the newest version in theatres now. I just saw this at a sneak preview and I have to say it is absurd, over the top, improbable and the most fun I have had at a movie in ages! Take the kids, take the grandparents----spend the extra bucks for the excellent 3D, suspend disbelief and just enjoy......