The Four Musketeers (1974)

RICHARD LESTER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB

///USA, 1974Alexander Michael and Ilya Salkind Productions, , Screenplay by , based on the novel by Cinematography by David WatkinProduced by , Music by Production Design by Costume Design by . Film Editing by Academy Awards 1975.

The adventure continues!  With the thwarting of the plot to embarrass the Queen of France () and expose her affair with the English Protestant sympathizer the Duke of Buckingham (), Milady deWynter (Faye Dunaway) is now in a rage and determined to get her revenge.  The musketeers now number four with D’Artagnan’s being made an official part of their rebellious little troupe, and they continue to carouse their way through a series of adventures that put their good friends in peril: Rochefort () is still doing the bidding of the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) bidding and kidnaps the beautiful Constance (), while Milady heads to England to assassinate the Duke but gets herself thrown in prison instead.  The focus on Dunaway’s performance is greatly expanded, and rightly so, giving her morally reprehensible yet impossibly charismatic character room to shine in her anti-heroic glory.  Meanwhile the male stars continue to liven up the proceedings with their good humour and terrific stunt work, working their way to a magnificent climax with a breathtaking swordfight between York and Lee that is one of the cinema’s highest points in this form of combat.  Filmed simultaneously with the first part, the two instant classics found themselves in a legal battle over salary contracts almost upon release, resulting in both being taken out of circulation for many years; thankfully both of these gems have resurfaced to the light of day and can be appreciated in their stunning glory.

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