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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about…™ The Three Musketeers (1921) – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Passion and research.

Any quality restorative effort of a motion picture requires both, but not necessarily in equal measures.

If it's your assignment at the studio level to save a film that you've never seen, or never particularly liked, without proper research, the project can fail. With proper research and even a bit of passion, the result is far likely to be better, even if not superior.

Conversely, passion alone will not win the day. Even with some research and a reasonable team in support of the project, there can still be problems.

These were the concepts going through my mind, as I was viewing Film Preservation Society's new restoration of the Fred Niblo (Ben-Hur, Way Out West) directed 1921 The Three Musketeers, the second swashbuckler from the legendary Douglas Fairbanks.

Knowing a bit about the extant film elements was helpful. Mr. Fairbanks had contributed his original nitrate films to MOMA in 1939. It was not until the 1960s that preservation occurred. An odd lapse, but understandable under budgetary constraints and the state of the art.

As a note, the information on the reverse of the new Blu-ray is incorrect in that this scan was not harvested from the OCN, which no longer exists, but rather from the fine grain produced by MOMA.

From a purely technical perspective, the work appears about as expected with a single exception. There is a visual defect just to the left of center frame in certain portions of the film. Many viewers won't notice it, but I make note as it's there. I'm not certain what it is, but suspect Newton rings, as nitrate decomp wouldn’t normally be as stable in its position.

That's the summation of the cons.

The positives are many, as the fine grain was decently produced aside from the above anomaly, and the scan seems impeccable. Normal grain can be seen. The image is as highly resolved as one might expect from a hundred-year-old film. Stability if fine. Nice gray scale. Good blacks. Lovely original tints.

It's both a nice image harvest, as well as a well-compressed and produced Blu-ray.

The score by Mont Alto Orchestra is superb, and beautifully fits the subject.

You've been waiting to see where passion came into play.

As most of you are aware, during the pre-sound era, and even into the sound era, films were produced either in black & white or color. But some black & white had added tints, tones, tints combined with tones, as well as other effects.

The special effect in The Three Musketeers is known as the Handschiegl color process, and it was interesting.

It came about in 1916, and first appeared in Joan the Woman (1917) for C.B. DeMille and was thereafter used for other Paramount productions before use elsewhere.

Without getting into details, it involved the production of a matrix, much akin to those used by Technicolor, which contained ONLY the portion of the frame to be printed with a certain dye.

You've also been waiting to see where research came into this equation.

In 2019 The George Eastman Museum acquired a short piece of original print from The Three Musketeers, which by divine coincidence happened to be a sequence not seen since 1921 - the Handschiegl color added to the overall tinted image - which was just Mr. Fairbanks' horse - and the horse was printed in a specific buttercup yellow.

This was added back to the new restoration, which also corrected some previous problems, and at least to me that single attribute is worth the price of admission. It's amazing.

I'll not kid you about cost. The release seems to be solely available via the Film Preservation Society website, and it will be more expensive than some might expect at $35 plus $5 shipping, but it's worth it. FPS is a charitable organization, and all income to goes restore other films - more Fairbanks projects as well as the Biograph library is ongoing.

I'd love to see the entire output of Biograph available, as that would allow us to at least partially trace the invention of cinema as a language.

Extras on the disc are minimal, but one is of interest - a 1917 short pushing the patriotism of war bond purchases, with appearances by many actors of the era, inclusive of Mr. Fairbanks and Ms. Pickford. It survives, a bit rough around the edges, but at least we have it.

There's also a 1910 Griffith Biograph, A Call to Arms with Mary Pickford, which has some digital clean-up problems.

But you're here for the main attraction, which is more than worth the price of admission. It's beautifully done and well worth your time and attention.

You can order The Three Musketeers and other FPS restorations at:

I wholeheartedly support their efforts, as FPS’ work is loaded with both passion as well as research.

Image - 4.25

Audio - N/A

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Absolutely

Works up-rezzed to 4k - Yes

Very Highly Recommended
 
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bujaki

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I bought this release months ago, along with another Fairbanks double feature. A Richard Dix release is also available. It's worth subscribing to the site's newsletter.
I've seen several Biograph paper print restorations done by the FPS and they look amazing, as if they were shot yesterday. This organization merits our support.
 

B-ROLL

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I bought this release months ago, along with another Fairbanks double feature. A Richard Dix release is also available. It's worth subscribing to the site's newsletter.
I've seen several Biograph paper print restorations done by the FPS and they look amazing, as if they were shot yesterday. This organization merits our support.
I recall in ancient times AKA high school watching a 16mm print of a film on film preservation. As memory serves to have a film copyrighted the producers need to prvide a phycal copy of the film and some producers chose to provide their copies their copies of the film(s) on longish pieces of paper (sometimes of the same paper quality as used by butcher to wrap meat/fish).
1670698081241.png

While not pertaining to the title at hand, I found it interesting some of these had survived (barely).

I'm asuming Newtonian Rings does not refer to Fig Newtons left on the projector and melting into the into the print? ;) Perhaps an open bottle of Aramis fell into it ;)!
 
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Capt D McMars

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Knowing the great work that FPS does, I was happy to pre-order this title (and I rarely do it as a rule). I am a big DFaribanks fan an would also grab his Mark of Zorro advanture as well. Kino did a wonderful job with the Black Pirate that I added to the collection.
I have never seen it so clean, and the addition of the tinited "Buttercup" scenes was a fun sequence!! Maybe someday, if the film gods allow, we might also see a restored Adventures of Robin Hood. It's amaing to see a youger Allan Hale Sr playing the same part years later with Errol Flynn!!!

This is well worth the price and a wonderful addition to anyones collection.
 

Robert Harris

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I recall in ancient times AKA high school watching a 16mm print of a film on film preservation. As memory serves to have a film copyrighted the producers need to prvide a phycal copy of the film and some producers chose to provide their copies their copies of the film(s) on longish pieces of paper (sometimes of the same paper quality as used by butcher to wrap meat/fish).
View attachment 166147
While not pertaining to the title at hand, I found it interesting some of these had survived (barely).

I'm asuming Newtonian Rings does not refer to Fig Newtons left on the projector and melting into the into the print? ;) Perhaps an open bottle of Aramis fell into it ;)!
The filmmakers didn’t choose to send paper prints for copyright. They HAD to send paper pints as there was no means of copyrighting film - only photographs.

 

bujaki

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Robert Harris

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cinerama10

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I could never understand as to why they were called MUSKETEERS as they NEVER held muskets. Did the novel's writer get the title wrong?
 

Stephen_J_H

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I could never understand as to why they were called MUSKETEERS as they NEVER held muskets. Did the novel's writer get the title wrong?

Well he was pretty much a Dumas(s) ;) ...
Funny, but I suspect that at least part of the reason muskets were not involved is that they tend to drag the action, as they have to be reloaded after. Every. Single. Shot.
 

David_B_K

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I could never understand as to why they were called MUSKETEERS as they NEVER held muskets. Did the novel's writer get the title wrong?
Being a musketeer and carrying a musket was their real job as soldiers in the field. They are seldom seen with muskets in film versions because most of the action of the novel and films occurs when they are off duty. It would be like seeing a modern day soldier carrying his rifle when he is walking the streets, etc. I can't remember, but I believe they have their muskets with them during the scene at the siege of La Rochelle in the Richard Lester version in which they are on duty as soldiers in a military operation.

d'Artagnan and the musketeers are all loosely based on historical people who fought in various French wars in the 17th century. The real d'Artagnan was killed in battle during one of Louis XIV's many wars in the Netherlands.
 

SuperClark

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I have the BBC 3 season blu ray set.Its very good.I read the sequel to the Three Musketeers as a teen '20 Years After'
and The Man in the Iron Mask.The Count of Monte Cristo is 1 of my top 5 novels of all time.
1671218049082.png
 

Baenwort

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They only take payment through a valid PayPal account. Those of us in PayPal jail are SOL.

Didn't PayPal used to have a 'guest' checkout that didn't need an account?

Have you contracted the FPS and asked if they'd support an alternative or allow you to post them a check, mail order style?
 

Mike2001

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Guest checkout does not seem to be an option from their link, although I have been able to do that from other merchants. When I click on FPS's payment option, it takes me to a login or create an account screen at PayPal.

I may try contacting FPS after the holidays.
 

J. Casey

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Due to comments on this board, I decided to order THE THREE MUSKETEERS. And while I was at it, I got the other two blu-rays they had to offer. Another standout disc is TOO MANY KISSES with Richard Dix and.....Harpo Marx! The image is immaculate, licensed from Paramount. In addition, there is the 20th anniversary Paramount talkie (in 1.20:1), THE HOUSE THAT SHADOWS BUILT (47 min) and a breakout of the Marx Brothers MONKEY BUSINESS promo (5 min). Not to mention a Mary Pickford Biograph film (17 min). I've only seen the Marx Brothers promo in bottom of the barrel PD releases. It looks almost new here! Race right to their site for this great release!!
 

Paul Penna

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Due to comments on this board, I decided to order THE THREE MUSKETEERS. And while I was at it, I got the other two blu-rays they had to offer. Another standout disc is TOO MANY KISSES with Richard Dix and.....Harpo Marx! The image is immaculate, licensed from Paramount. In addition, there is the 20th anniversary Paramount talkie (in 1.20:1), THE HOUSE THAT SHADOWS BUILT (47 min) and a breakout of the Marx Brothers MONKEY BUSINESS promo (5 min). Not to mention a Mary Pickford Biograph film (17 min). I've only seen the Marx Brothers promo in bottom of the barrel PD releases. It looks almost new here! Race right to their site for this great release!!
Thanks for the great reminder! They also have their Fairbanks double feature Blu-ray on sale during January For $10. I got all three plus the Biograph Project cling😁

Here's the link again: https://filmpreservationsociety.org/shop
 

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