Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Four of the musketeers

About six weeks ago, I mentioned the 1970s version of The Three Musketeers, and how because the producers really made too much material, they decided to split the movie into two, even though this would piss of the actors. The second of those movies got the name The Four Musketeers (sometimes also subtitled Milady's Revenge or The Revenge of Milady), and that movie will be on tomorrow (Oct. 4) at 10:30 AM. in honor of Charlton Heston.

If you remember the first movie, as it ended the musketeers had just saved the bacon of Anne (Geraldine Chaplin), the Queen of France, who was haing an illicit relationship with the English Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward), even though their two countries were at war. Part of that war was religious in nature, and French Protestants were in rebellion in the Breton port of La Rochelle. Cardinal Richelieu (that's Charlton Heston) had figured out that it's the queen's dressmaker Constance (Raquel Welch) who has been passing the message between Anne and Buckingham, well, with help from D'Artagnan (Michael York) who is her boyfriend. So Richelieu orders his men to capture Constance.

Meanwhile Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway) wants to gain revenge on the musketeers as well, so she goes in with Richelieu by seducing d'Artagnan to get him away from Constance. D'Artagnan can't be bothered to think with his big head, so he takes the bait. D'Artagnan also finds out that Milady has a brand, which was a sentence for a crime she committed. It's also a sign that she had been in a relatonship with Athos (Oliver Reed), but he killed her -- or he thought he did -- when he found out about Milady's criminality.

Anyhow, the musketeers set out to find Constance, and all of them but D'Artagnan eventually do, sending her to Armentières for safe-keeping until the musketeers can do their other duties and go back and fetch her. Milady, for her part, still wants to kill d'Artagnan and Constance, and the rest of the movie is one long series of adventures and action scenes as Milady's right-hand man Rochefort (Christopher Lee) pursues the musketeers across western France.

The plot of The Four Musketeers is not hampered as much by the editing of the movie into two separate features as I thought The Three Musketeers was. That having been said, I thought the main plot was fairly thin, and more or less a hook on which all those action scenes were hung. Now, it does feel like the stars making this are having a blast doing it, since they didn't know yet they were to get shafted by only getting paid for one movie while making two. Oliver Reed is well cast; Heston is getting into the eminence grise phase, and all of the women feel slightly miscast. But The Four Musketeers is ultimately just about entertaining enough to be worth a watch.

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