I’ve always loved Musketeers stories.
I’m pretty sure I read Alexandre Dumas’ novel of 17th-century Musketeers – the king’s guard – when I was still young and certainly before the 1973 Richard Lester movie version. I really loved Lester’s movie and its made-at-the-same-time sequel, “The Four Musketeers,” which was funny and slapstick and swashbuckling all at the same time. The movies clinched my love of the story and characters, a love that deepened when I saw the very different but equally thrilling 1948 version starring Gene Kelly and Van Heflin.
So I’ve enjoyed getting a double-dose of Musketeers lately with a BBC America series, “The Musketeers,” and a repeat viewing of Lester’s first movie.
“The Musketeers” is a handsome version of the story of young French farm boy d’Artagnan, who goes to Paris on a mission of revenge but soon finds companions in three of the king’s best Musketeers, suave Aramis, tragic Athos and brawling Porthos.
The series has the court intrigue, double-crossings and mysterious motives familiar from the story. The four Musketeers are stalwart but portrayed as men with faults and secrets.
A nice bonus is the presence of Peter Capaldi, who just last night began his tenure as the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” as Cardinal Richelieu, often portrayed as a villain but given some interesting shading here.
The series finishes up tonight, but I’m sure you can catch it streaming or on demand.
As for a recent chance to re-watch Lester’s original “Three Musketeers,” with Michael York, Raquel Welch and the amazing Oliver Reed, I rediscovered my love for the movie again.
And for all the talk about modern-day movies hinting at or previewing future movies in a series, “The Three Musketeers” ends with scenes from its sequel.
It was a practice the producers, the Salkinds, pioneered here and tried to do again with the first two “Superman” movies. In the latter series, the producers threw out much of the footage shot for the sequel. With the “Musketeers” films, some members of the cast sued because they had been paid for only one movie.
Pretty sure Peter Jackson worked out such details with the “Lord of the Rings” cast before the fact.