Remastered and joining the StudioCanal Vintage Classic range, Richard Lester’s rip-roaring take on The Three Musketeers and it’s sequel arrive on 4k Ultra HD DVD and Blu-ray on May 8. Initially released in 1973, the plan was to make one epic three-hour swashbuckling movie; however, the decision was made by the producers to split them into two separate films. A year later, The Four Musketeers hit cinemas, and it seems only right on this Bank Holiday Weekend to enjoy a Musketeers double feature.
Lester assembled a first-rate A-list cast with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Richard Chamberlain as the swashbuckling heroes. Add to that Raquel Welch, Geraldine Chaplin, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Charlton Heston, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Lee, Joss Ackland, Roy Kinnear and Spike Milligan; this is a bonafide star-studded epic. While not strictly speaking a parody, Lester injects an energetic comedic tone to the adventuring that Steven Spielberg utilised so well a few years later for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Making an adventure movie light, fun, and thrilling is a challenging combination to get right, and it’s one the Hollywood still struggles with today.
The Three Musketeers is a light-hearted, frequently funny romp; all it wants to do is offer 104 minutes of entertainment with plenty of (perhaps over-choreographed) action set pieces and a dash of romance to forge one of the best adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ famed book. Naturally, the 80s animated series Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is a close second.
The Four Musketeers is darker in tone with a little less lightness to proceedings, but as we’re essentially getting the second half of the story, the plot zips along at a galloping pace without pausing to introduce the main characters.
Director Richard Lester and most of the original cast would reunite for The Return of the Musketeers one last time 15 years later. Sadly the film wasn’t as successful as its predecessors, it reputation was forever tied to the accidental death of actor Roy Kinnear. After sustaining severe injuries after he fell off a horse, Kinnear suffered a heart attack while in hospital. Hopefully, The Return of the Musketeers will get a restoration in the future so the saga can be complete and in glorious 4K. As expected from a Vintage Classic title, the restoration is sublime, so sharp is the image that Michael York’s jawline poses a genuine threat to the audience’s safety.
Bonus features included part one of a detailed documentary The The Saga of the Musketeers, which concludes on The Four Musketeers disc, is fantastic, giving you a real insight into the production and the legacy of both films. If ever the old saying “they don’t make them like that anymore” was apt, it’s here. The Three and Four Musketeers are available on 4K ULTRA, DVD and Blu-ray on May 8.