Skip to main content

By using this site, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Three Musketeers (1973)

The swashbuckler genre got a fresh update when screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser crafted one of the most faithful of the couple dozen screen adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’s adventure tale. Director Richard Lester brought his unique comic approach to the work, with slapstick humor expertly played by an all-star cast. That shouldn’t have been a surprise, as the film had originally been planned for the Beatles, whom Lester had directed in A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965).

Michael York steps into the shoes of Douglas Fairbanks, Gene Kelly, and Don Ameche to star as D’Artagnan, who sets out to prove his courage by joining the King’s Musketeers. His first major task with colleagues Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, and Oliver Reed is to retrieve diamonds the queen had given her lover before Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) can use the situation to cement his control over King Louis XIII. That leads to conflict with Richelieu’s agent, Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway) and a romance with the queen’s dressmaker (Raquel Welch).

Lester directed at a breakneck pace, filming rehearsals and at times having five cameras shoot a single scene at once. He ended up filming enough material for two films, a matter that surprised the cast when they screened the picture only to discover they had made a sequel, The Four Musketeers (1974), without being reimbursed for the second film. Eventually they were paid (they were needed to shoot additional scenes) and rewarded with a big hit. Welch got an extra bonus: a Best Actress Golden Globe, the only competitive acting award she would ever win.

d. Richard Lester, 107 minutes, DCP

North American premiere restoration courtesy of Rialto Pictures