The Three Musketeers (1939/Fox)
Picture: C+ Sound:
C+ Extras: C Film: B-
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.
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.
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