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The Three Musketeers (1973 film)

The Three Musketeers
File:Three Musketeers 1974.jpg
1974 poster
Directed by Richard Lester[1]
Produced by Alexander Salkind
Ilya Salkind[2]
Pierre Spengler
Written by George MacDonald Fraser
Based on The Three Musketeers 
by Alexandre Dumas père
Starring Oliver Reed
Charlton Heston
Raquel Welch
Faye Dunaway
Richard Chamberlain
Frank Finlay
Michael York
Christopher Lee
Music by Michel Legrand
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by John Victor Smith
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 11 December 1973 (1973-12-11) (France)
  • 29 March 1974 (1974-03-29) (U.S.)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $10.1 million (US/ Canada)[3]

The Three Musketeers is a 1973 film based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by George MacDonald Fraser. It was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles, whom Lester had directed in two other films. It was intended to run for three hours, but later it was split into two, the second part becoming 1974's The Four Musketeers.[4][5] In 1989, the cast and crew returned to film The Return of the Musketeers, loosely based on Dumas' Twenty Years After.

The film adheres closely to the novel, but also injects a fair amount of humor. It was shot by David Watkins, with an eye for period detail. The fight scenes were choreographed by master swordsman William Hobbs.


The young d'Artagnan arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a king's musketeer. Quite unused to the city life, he makes a number of clumsy faux-pas. He comes into conflict with three musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, each of whom challenges him to a duel for some insult or embarrassment. As the first of these duels is about to begin, Jussac arrives with five additional swordsmen of Cardinal Richelieu's guards. D'Artagnan sides with the musketeers in the ensuing street fight and becomes their ally in opposition to the Cardinal, who wishes to increase his already considerable power over the king. D'Artagnan also begins an affair with his landlord's wife, Constance Bonacieux, who is the Queen's dressmaker.

Meanwhile the Duke of Buckingham, former lover of the Queen, turns up and asks for something in remembrance of her; she gives him a necklace with twelve settings of diamonds. The Cardinal learns of the rendezvous and suggests to the none-too-bright King to throw a ball in his wife's honor, and request she wear the diamonds he gave her. The Cardinal also sends Milady de Winter to England to steal the necklace. She seduces the Duke and steals two of the necklace's diamonds. Meanwhile, the Queen has confided her troubles in Constance, who asks d'Artagnan to ride to England and get back the diamonds. D'Artagnan and the three musketeers set out, but on the way the Cardinal's men attack them. Only d'Artagnan and his servant make it through to Buckingham, where they discover the loss of two of the diamond settings. The Duke replaces the two settings, and d'Artagnan races back to Paris. Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, wounded but not dead as d'Artagnan had feared, aid the delivery of the complete necklace to the Queen, saving the royal couple from the embarrassment which the Cardinal had plotted.

Captain Tréville inducts d'Artagnan into the Musketeers of the King's Guard, and the film ends with a sight gag, as the four musketeers and Constance walk away.



According to George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Lester became involved in the project when the producers briefly considered casting The Beatles as the musketeers and Lester had directed two films with the group. The Beatles idea fell by the wayside but Lester stayed. In late 1972 he hired Fraser to write the scripts, saying he wanted to make a four hour film and cast Richard Chamberlain as Aramis. It was later decided to turn the script into two films.[6]


The movie was met with mostly positive reviews.[7] Vincent Canby of The New York Times had this to say about the film: "Mr. Lester seems almost exclusively concerned with action, preferably comic, and one gets the impression after a while that he and his fencing masters labored too long in choreographing the elaborate duels. They're interesting to watch, though they are without a great deal of spontaneity."[8]

Awards and nominations

Raquel Welch won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

George MacDonald Fraser won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Comedy Screenplay.


  1. ^ Shivas, Mark (1973-08-05). "Lester's Back and the 'Musketeers' Have Got Him". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  2. ^ Sloman, Tony (1997-03-25). "Obituary: Alexander Salkind". Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  3. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p232. Please note figures are rentals accruing to distributors and not total gross.
  4. ^ Russo, Tom (2004-04-09). "Franchise This". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  5. ^ Salmans, Sandra (1983-07-17). "FILM VIEW; THE SALKIND HEROES WEAR RED AND FLY HIGH". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  6. ^ George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p1-16
  7. ^ "The Three Musketeers - The Queen's Diamonds". Variety. 1972-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (1974-04-04). "Spirites 'Three Musketeers' (No. 6)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 

External links