I Saw A Film!

Part two of this thoroughly enjoyable franchise has the Faye Dunaway character (I always remember her best from Network, and she is unusually beautiful in this film), the right-hand-lady of the Cardinal Richelieu (Heston-he looks cute too) getting her revenge after her plot of embarrassing the queen didn’t work out in episode one. Sadly, much of the intrigue of the power play is quite high-schoolish, but then we never seem to tire of the most trite of human affairs, and they were real enough. The Queen is having an affair and the Cardinal wants to expose it to gain power over the king. But this is hardly the main attraction of this film. Like a Houdini effect, it’s never enough to just escape from chains, you also want to do so submerged and locked in a box, and so this film, while the girls try to get each other in trouble, features our gallant musketeers trying to protect the queen and her sweet lovely dress-maker, played by Raquel Welch, from the frightening powers of Heston and his dark soldier played by Christopher Lee. If I tell you this thing is similar to, and better than Star Wars, would you freak out? If Seven Samurai had some parts for lovely women, and didn’t mind playing some jokes (did Kurosawa ever comedy?), well, I’m off on a tangent.

Meanwhile there’s a rebellion to put down, and the musketeers make a silly bet of machismo to take a dangerous prominence and hold it while eating breakfast. What ensues is a pile of slapstick and warfare, featuring period weapons, and authentic handling. Guns aren’t just pointed and triggers pulled. Muskets are muzzle-loaders and the musketeers trip them with punks rather than flints. Grenades are thrown back using baguettes as bats. Once the field effort is finished and the rebels being hung during the triumph festival, which includes the king being painted in portrait and an elaborate pump organ playing, things you’ll not see in any other film in this sort of arrangement, and perfectly arranged it is, our heroes try to get a bit of rest, but there’s not much hope of that, as the baddies have arranged some nearly James Bond level trappings to bring about their rise to power.

I won’t give anything away, but this film, as they did in the old days of film making, is complicated and doesn’t shy away from rough stuff. There are difficult endings mixed with the comedy. One detail I perfectly loved is when the headsman finishes his business, he demands extra pay for having to row a boat. I now need to know if Dumas wrote that or if it was genius in the script-handlers.

This is running 4 bones on Prime and if you enjoy these sorts of buddy, war, renaissance things you should not miss these, the details are a delight. Come for the sword play (some of the best ever filmed) and stay for the vial of acid daggers!

One thought on “The Four Musketeers (1974)

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