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High flying if abbreviated version of the classic novel 4 Stars

There have been many films that have brought all or part of Alexandre Dumas’ classic swashbuckling tale The Three Musketeers to the screen, but George Sidney’s 1948 effort brings not only a star-studded cast to the fore but tremendous verve and action-packed excitement as well.

The Three Musketeers (1948)
Released: 20 Oct 1948
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 125 min
Director: George Sidney
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Cast: Lana Turner, Gene Kelly, June Allyson
Writer(s): Alexandre Dumas, Robert Ardrey
Plot: D'Artagnan (Gene Kelly) and his Musketeer comrades thwart the plans of Cardinal Richelieu (Vincent Price) to usurp King Louis XIII's (Frank Morgan's) power.
IMDB rating: 7.2
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 6 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 02/15/2022
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 4/5

There have been many films that have brought all or part of Alexandre Dumas’ classic swashbuckling tale The Three Musketeers to the screen, but George Sidney’s 1948 effort brings not only a star-studded cast to the fore but tremendous verve and action-packed excitement as well. Its ambitions are great: to bring the entirety of the narrative to the screen in one film (it took Richard Lester two films to accomplish this feat almost a quarter of a century later), and while much has been omitted and the pacing sometimes lags, the brilliant Technicolor and the slate of familiar faces occupying the classic roles make this version a tremendous amount of fun.

Cardinal Richelieu (Vincent Price) may only be the chief minister to King Louis XIII (Frank Morgan) in France in 1625, but he is in fact the power behind the throne determined to engage in a war with England and set himself up as master over both countries. Enter Louis’ beloved musketeers to do the king’s bidding in constant attempts to keep Richelieu’s power in check by regularly battling with his chief commander Rochefort (Ian Keith) and his men. The three best swordsmen among the musketeers are the often-drunk Athos (Van Heflin), the courtly Porthos (Gig Young), and the spiritual Aramis (Robert Coote), and they have recently been joined by the swashbuckling country lad D’Artagnan (Gene Kelly) whose athletic prowess and way with a foil are unmatched. The quartet find themselves at odds not only with Richelieu but with an even deadlier cohort of his, the wicked Lady de Winter (Lana Turner), who can use her feminine wiles to insert herself into the British political situation and woo D’Artagnan away from Queen Anne’s (Angela Lansbury) innocent handmaiden Constance (June Allyson) to get what she wants.

Robert Ardrey’s screenplay adaptation hits all of the novel’s high points while George Sidney’s direction mirrors the novel’s alternating tone: high-spirited and rambunctious in its first half and darker and more sinister in the second half. If one is averse to swordplay, this is not the movie to view as it’s crammed to the gills with it: early encounters with Rochefort’s men (where especially Gene Kelly’s acrobatic maneuvers are marvelously high flying and impressive even after all these years), the escape from de Winter’s chalet (where movie fans will quickly realize that scenes in this sequence were lifted out of the film to be used as moments in The Dancing Cavalier in Singin’ in the Rain), and the climactic trap at an inn set for the musketeers. Sidney also films beautifully from a series of angles a spectacular stunt as Kelly scales stone walls and palace turrets to return the diamond studs to Queen Anne before Richelieu embarrasses her before the court. There is also a brief war montage, quite evocative and just long enough to show that Richelieu’s plans have again been thwarted.

It’s Gene Kelly’s film despite only earning second billing: his D’Artagnan gives the famous silent enactment by Douglas Fairbanks a run for its money and was clearly meant to match him stunt for stunt and jump for jump. It’s pretty much a photo finish, but there are likely those who will prefer Doug’s interpretation. Lana Turner is astoundingly beautiful in her Walter Plunkett gowns and finery as Lady de Winter, but her treachery seems more surface than deeply inbred (she’s hampered, of course, by the Production Code which didn’t allow us to see her actually murdering a succession of people). Vincent Price was born to play the wily, snake-like Richelieu which he does with great glee. June Allyson is all sweet innocence as Constance. Angela Lansbury (who years later made it known she had pleaded for the role of de Winter but was denied) is pretty much wasted as Queen Anne while Frank Morgan is properly weak and befuddled as King Louis. Van Heflin acts Athos to pieces burying his heartbreak and regret in flagons of wine while Gig Young and Robert Coote are fine as the other two, less well-defined, musketeers. In smaller roles, Keenan Wynn is reliable as D’Artagnan’s servant Planchet, John Sutton is a stalwart Duke of Buckingham, Ian Keith is oily fun as Rochefort, and Patricia Medina has some strong moments as Kitty. Yes, that’s Marie Windsor looking gorgeous in the non-speaking role as Richelieu’s mole serving as the queen’s lady-in-waiting.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Warner Archive has done another brilliant job bringing out the true Technicolor look in this gorgeous image. Hues are rich but always under control with flesh tones especially luscious in this transfer. There is not a speck of age-related anomaly to be seen anywhere, and you’ll be captivated by how superb the image is in all of the varying light levels throughout the presentation. The movie has been divided into 32 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers outstanding aural fidelity. Dialogue has been exquisitely recorded and has been superbly blended with Herbert Stothart’s background score (which borrows heavily from Tchaikovsky in all of the D’Artagnan-Constance scenes) and the multiple sound effects. There are no traces anywhere of hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter.

Special Features: 2.5/5

Looking at London (10:09, SD): a James Fitzpatrick TravelTalk.

What Price Fleadom (6:57, HD): a Tex Avery animated short

Radio Promo (14:04): Lana Turner gives some brief comments about the movie which then features audio clips from some of her earlier films.

Theatrical Trailer (1:56, HD)

Overall: 4/5

MGM spent over $4 million bringing Dumas’ classic novel to the screen, but they had MGM’s second biggest hit of the year with it (outgrossed only by Easter Parade), and it’s all on the screen to clearly be seen in Warner Archive’s outstanding new Blu-ray release of this very entertaining spectacle. Recommended!

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Published by

Matt Hough

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View thread (22 replies)

RICK BOND

Screenwriter
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I got mine Today ! Wow ! :biggrin: Simply Technicolor Eye Candy for me. This Bluray, Ivanhoe, and Eliz. and Essex look Amazing ! :D Photo is from a Sony 75 4K TV
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Jay_Z_525

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Just watching this now. It looks stunning- but I’m finding the sound a little dupey and hissy but I’m still on the first reel.

Is anyone else noticing this?
 

RICK BOND

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Just watching this now. It looks stunning- but I’m finding the sound a little dupey and hissy but I’m still on the first reel.

Is anyone else noticing this?
No, audio is nice and Loud on my Sony audio 5 speaker system. I watched the complete 126 min. Movie today. What a Fun Movie ! :D
 

benbess

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Watched this blu-ray today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Spectacular Technicolor restoration. Gene Kelly's swordplay and climbs are truly impressive, and his leaps are almost beyond belief sometimes. In fact, I almost guarantee you'll gasp at times at his athletic and graceful stunts. It's intentionally played for laughs for much of it, and then gets more serious at the end, with particular drama from Van Heflin. Ironically Van Heflin's heart is also broken by Lana Turner in another MGM epic from just a year earlier called Green Dolphin Street, which I also like quite a bit. Anyway, MGM rolled out the red carpet for this Three Musketeers with stars, costumes, sets, etc. Vincent Price is very good, and the acting talents and charms of June Allyson, Lana Turner, and Angela Landsbury are all allowed to shine. Highly Recommended!

And if anyone has an Audible membership it happens that their 8-hour full cast adaptation of the Three Musketeers novel is available as one of their "free" titles. With that amount of time I'm sure they do a much more complete version of the story, and I'm going to try it out to get details about some of the things implied in this movie.

vincent.jpg
Screen Shot 2022-02-15 at 10.04.15 PM.png
 

Trancas

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I just watched it too...it is impressively colorful and sharp. So sharp that you can see how often Gene Kelly's stunt double is employed. Any time Gene needs to jump into the saddle or do some intense gymnastics the double is used.
 

Will Krupp

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Any time Gene needs to jump into the saddle or do some intense gymnastics the double is used.

He was known for always wanting to do his own stunts, but, considering he had just recovered from a broken bone (leg? ankle? one of those!) that kept him out of EASTER PARADE, I don't blame them (or him) for being extra careful this time around!!
 

HawksFord

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We watched The Three Musketeers last night. It's a lot of fun and this release looks great, but the pacing seems off. It's either too long or too short. I hadn't watched this one in a long time, and watching it again confirmed that I still prefer the Richard Lester two film version.
 

Matt Hough

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We watched The Three Musketeers last night. It's a lot of fun and this release looks great, but the pacing seems off. It's either too long or too short. I hadn't watched this one in a long time, and watching it again confirmed that I still prefer the Richard Lester two film version.
I think most people do.
 

GerardoHP

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Watched this blu-ray today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Spectacular Technicolor restoration. Gene Kelly's swordplay and climbs are truly impressive, and his leaps are almost beyond belief sometimes. In fact, I almost guarantee you'll gasp at times at his athletic and graceful stunts. It's intentionally played for laughs for much of it, and then gets more serious at the end, with particular drama from Van Heflin. Ironically Van Heflin's heart is also broken by Lana Turner in another MGM epic from just a year earlier called Green Dolphin Street, which I also like quite a bit. Anyway, MGM rolled out the red carpet for this Three Musketeers with stars, costumes, sets, etc. Vincent Price is very good, and the acting talents and charms of June Allyson, Lana Turner, and Angela Landsbury are all allowed to shine. Highly Recommended!

And if anyone has an Audible membership it happens that their 8-hour full cast adaptation of the Three Musketeers novel is available as one of their "free" titles. With that amount of time I'm sure they do a much more complete version of the story, and I'm going to try it out to get details about some of the things implied in this movie.

View attachment 128771 View attachment 128772
You silly goose, that's not Gene doing 99% of the leaps. That's his stunt double. Go back and look at it, the cuts are almost invisible and the continuity flawless.