Friday, June 19, 2015

Sir Christopher Lee Week: The Three Musketeers

Welcome back fans of Lee to Day 4 of Sir Christopher Lee Week. Didn't get a lot of love for The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf and well... I really can't blame you. It is a crap film and should be avoided at all costs unless you like anamorphic, piss poor SFX and large Sybil Danning breasts. So I chose a film filled with history, swordplay and swashbuckling. Yes, I am attempting to bribe you all in order to get in your good graces. Based on novelist Alexandre Dumas finer creations comes the 1973 version. This is The Three Musketeers.

Few are as dashing as I.

As the usual telling of the tale our film follows young D'Artangan (Michael York of Logan's Run, Knots Landing, The Lady and the Highwayman, The Return of the Musketeers, Eline Vere and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) who arrives in Paris with dreams of being a musketeer and serving the king. Little side note, I have never seen a Frenchman aside from Gerard Depardieu in The Man in the Iron Mask play a musketeer. Moving right along, as a country lad and unfamiliar with city customs our young lad find himself slapped about, insulted and robbed by the Comte de Rochefort (Christopher Lee).

Going downhill from there, D'Artagan directly challenges each musketeer to a duel due to some insult or accident or in general a faux-pa. As the duel begins, Jussac of the Cardinal Richelieu's guards along with five other swordsmen demands the immediate surrender of their commissions and blades. Athos (Oliver Reed of R3, The Jokers, The Assassination Bureau, The Big Sleep, Gor, Hired to Kill and Gladiator), Porthos (Frank Finlay of The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, A Christmas Carol, Lifeforce and The Pianist) and Aramis (Richard Chamberlain of Dr. Kildare, Centennial, Shogun, King Solomon's Mines, The Bourne Identity and The Return of the Musketeers) feel the need to decline. D'Artagan fights along side the musketeers as they endeavor to end the power held over their king by the Cardinal (Charlton Heston of Arrowhead, Touch of Evil, Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green).

Wow, Street Fighter's Sagat has really changed his look.

The juvenile bladesmaster finds comfort and solace in the arms of his landlord's wife Constance de Bonacieux (Raquel Welch of Fantastic Voyage, One Million Years, B.C., Fahtom, 100 Rifles, Bluebeard, Spin City and American Family) the Queen Anna's (Geraldine Chaplin of Doctor Zhivago, Rasputin, Stress Is Three, Love on the Ground, The Return of the Musketeers, Just Run! and The Hidden) dressmaker and closest confidante. The former lover of the queen, the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward of Young Winston, The Three Musketeers, Zulu Dawn, Judge John Deed and The Tudors) humbly asks for a token to remember her by when she hands over a priceless necklace with twelve diamonds in setting to him. The Cardinal decides to make the Queen appear to be in league with the Duke by asking the king to host a ball in the queen's honor so she may display her lovely necklace for all the court to see. Can the musketeers recover the necklace and save face for the queen? Will the Cardinal send his minions to dispatch them?

A few facts on the movie.

Swordmaster/ fight choreographer William Hobbs had to stage all the fight scenes by working both individually with each swordsman as well as orchestrate the blocked scenes with cinematographer/ director of photography David Watkins to make certain their form was correct and no injuries occurred but accidents will happen as Oliver Reed was severely injured during the windmill duel scene and almost died when he was stabbed in the throat. Thank God for good health care.

Originally it was said that the Beatles would play the Musketeers as their main director Richard Lester was on-board but the producers felt the Beatles would be too much of their own personality and not be appropriate for the characters. Charlton Heston was offered a role as one of the Musketeers as Aramis or Porthos but he felt the role was too physically demanding and chose to play the villain for a change.   

Dammit all!  We ran into the credits!