What do beloved hoofer Gene Kelly and post-millennial wild man Charlie Sheen have in common?
The Hollywood stars both were “all for one, one for all” in a Three Musketeers movie.
Kelly was the heroic D’Artagnan in the 1948 version of the Alexandre Dumas story, while Sheen was – unsurprisingly – the arrogant womanizer Aramis in 1993.
The swashbuckling exploits of D’Artagnan and his three friends first appeared in print in 1844. Sixty years later a French film detailed their exploits for the first time.
Since then they have swashbuckled though an all-girl version called Barbie and the Three Musketeers, an old west adaptation starring John Wayne and bow wowed in an all canine edition called Dogtanian and the Three Muskethounds.
This weekend the all-new Three Musketeers brings their swashbuckling style to the big screen for the 30th time in the last century.
The Gene Kelly Three Musketeers is probably the most accurate adaptation from page to stage, but the most entertaining – and star studded – has to be The Three Musketeers: The Queen’s Diamonds.
The 1973-era movie is bawdy, outrageous and action packed, with lavish set design and an even more lavish cast, including Michael York, Oliver Reed, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway.
Highlights include a chess game played with trained dogs and monkeys and some of the best sword fighting this side of an Errol Flynn movie.
The Musketeer (2001) features plenty of swordplay, but amps up the action with crouching tiger choreography by martial arts master Xin Xin Xiong.
Starring Justin Chambers as D’Artagnan, the story will ruffle the giant feather plumes worn by Dumas purists but as an action movie – Roger Ebert wrote, “Occasionally the action is interrupted by dialogue scenes” – it is the most exciting of the recent Musketeers movies.
Occasionally the Musketeers have appeared as supporting characters.
In 1998’s The Man in the Iron Mask, the aging D’Artagnan and his posse – played by Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gérard Depardieu – come out of retirement to rid France of an evil king, Louis XIV and replace him with his twin brother, both played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Based on Dumas’s novel Count of Bragelonne the story was also the basis for The Fifth Musketeer, a 1979 movie with the unlikely cast of Beau Bridges as Louis XIV and Alan Hale Jr. (best known as The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) as Musketeer Porthos.