The Three Musketeers in Film: A Movieline Timeline
This weekend, Paul W.S. Anderson brings his own adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's novel The Three Musketeers to movie theaters. This is hardly the first feature film foray for the titular trio of sword-fighting adventurers though. The Three Musketeers, first published in 1844, has been interpreted for the screen over twenty times in the past century and framed as everything from a silent film to a Russian musical to a Charlie Sheen star vehicle. In celebration of this weekend's latest rendering of the classic, let's re-examine the Musketeers' long cinematic history.
1921: By this time, Hollywood had already cranked out three silent iterations of the The Three Musketeers, the most notable being the 1916 feature starring vaudeville stars Louise Glaum (as Milady de Winter, the beautiful and remorseless spy for Cardinal Richelieu) and Dorothy Dalton. But it wasn't until 1921 that the U.S. enjoyed its first big Musketeers remake with silent swashbuckling star and that era's "King of Hollywood" Douglas Fairbanks. As d'Artagnan -- the hotheaded youth who is ultimately befriended by the Musketeers and protected as a son -- Fairbanks at one point performed a one-handed handspring to grab a sword during a fight scene which was considered one of the greatest stunts of this era.
1939: Four years after Hollywood released its first English-language talking Three Musketeers (one that still paled in comparison to the Fairbanks adaptation), Hollywood decided that the Dumas novel was ready for a comedic take. Hence 1939's musical comedy Three Musketeers which stars Academy Award winner Don Ameche (Cocoon) as D'Artagnan and comedy trio the Ritz Brothers as his cowardly helpers, who dance and sing about chicken soup.
1948: The Three Musketeers got its technicolor close-up in 1948 with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's splashy adaptation starring Gene Kelly as D'Artagnan, Lana Turner as Countess de Winter and Angela Lansbury (at just 23 years old) as Queen Anne. Although Gene Kelly may have given off more of a dashing vibe than the dangerous and quick-tempered sensibility ascribed to his character in the novel, his physical ability made him one of the most graceful and acrobatic Musketeers in film history.