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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Musical > Adventure > Satire > The Three Musketeers (1939/Fox)

The Three Musketeers (1939/Fox)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: B-



Too long ago, there was a time when literature was considered exciting by many and this feeling was quite prevalent.  Radio drama and film did not hurt this as much, then TV and other technologies followed, losing something in the process.  Sure Harry Potter’s print phenomenon is highly welcome, but the best books (and all kinds of them) can always be exciting.  Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers has been filmed so many times, you could do a coffee table book on the subject.  Like the 1933 Republic Pictures serial with John Wayne (yes, you have to see it!), the 1939 semi-Musical version from Fox with Don Ameche and The Ritz Brothers has far more energy than later versions.


Why?  Because like Robin Hood, there is a real energy people who love the book and there was a real effort to recapture that on film.  Though both versions may seem a bit unusual, they capture the energy and fun of the original book more than many “serious” “legitimate” “literary” adaptations that tend to bog down the book and its intents.  Ameche is D’Artagnan, going to Paris to join The Musketeers and yes, this is a comedy that is spoofy, yet you do not need to know the story or book to enjoy it.  If anything, it is a relief after some disappointing feature film and TV adaptations.


Directed by the great Allan Dwan, making fun of some of Douglas Fairbank’s films down to the Ritz Brothers as cooks being mistaken for those Musketeers.  All in all, this is fun and a minor classic in the cannon of such adaptations definitely worth your time.  Gloria Stuart (The Invisible Man, James Cameron’s Titanic) plays a Queen, Lionel Atwill, Pauline Moore and John Carradine also star.


The 1.33 X 1 black & white image has been upgraded enough and makes for pleasant viewing, especially as Fox put the money into this one.  Note the production design and the great costumes, but Director of Photography J. Peverell Marley delivers it all at its best.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is here in stereo and mono, though I liked the stereo better.  Extras include two Fox Movietone shorts related to the film and the DVD case also has an envelope of imitation lobby cards fans will enjoy.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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