The Four Musketeers (1974) starring Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Frank Finlay, Christopher Lee, Geraldine Chaplin directed by Richard Lester Movie Review

The Four Musketeers (1974)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Oliver Reed as Athos in The Four Musketeers

All for Another One

"The Four Musketeers" was shot at the same time they made "The Three Musketeers", in fact the cast thought they were making one epic movie only to discover it was two and ended up taking the producers to court for fair pay for making two movies. So theoretically "The Four Musketeers" should be the equal of "The Three Musketeers" and to be honest the look, the humour, the action and character portrayals are. But the thing is that for those like me who only know the story of D'Artagnan becoming the Fourth Musketeer, which was basically the first movie; this second movie will be a bit confusing. It's not that it is complex but the familiarity with D'Artagnan's story made the first easier to watch than this second follow on tale.

Whilst D'Artagnan (Michael York) has become one of the Musketeers rebel Protestants have taken hold of La Rochelle and the Duke of Buckingham, Queen Anne's (Geraldine Chaplin) lover, is ready to send his support for the rebels. Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) enlists Rochefort (Christopher Lee) to kidnap Constance (Raquel Welch) who is not only D'Artganan's lover but also the Queen's messenger and at the same time has Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway - The Thomas Crown Affair) distract D'Artagnan from his loss. But D'Artagnan not only discovers she is in cahoots with Rochefort and Richelieu but also is the woman who many years earlier broke Athos's (Oliver Reed - Gladiator) heart. With the Duke of Buckingham in danger the Musketeers must try and forewarn him of trouble, rescue Constance and top the scheming Richelieu, Rochefort and Milady before they get their evil ways.

Raquel Welch as Constance de Bonancieux in The Four Musketeers

So as already mentioned "The Four Musketeers" basically continues the story of D'Artagnan and his new friends Athos, Aramis and Porthos. As such there are little sub stories, we have history between Athos and Milady de Winter, we have Constance being kidnapped, we have assassination attempts and much more. But in many ways whilst the story continues the focus of this movie is on Milady de Winter, her history with Athos, her relationship with D'Artagnan as well as Rochefort and her journey to England to assassinate Buckingham. The thing is that whilst the first movie has a well known story this second one is not so well known except for fans of Dumas's story and as such it does become a little harder to follow.

This means that for those who are not so familiar with the story this second movie becomes about two things, the comedy and the action which often interweave. And as you would expect seeing that both movies were shot at the same time it is the same comical experience found in the first movie. Well any movie which sees Porthos on stilts rescuing a damsel from an upstairs room is certainly a little quirky. But it works and whilst everything about it feels over the top you can't but help smile when the action and comedy starts flowing.

And talking of over the top well it is the same when it comes to the performances but it is infitting with the movie. Michael York is still a bit of a naive blonde whilst Oliver Reed is soulfully brooding as Athos, Richard Chamberlain is cavalier like whilst Faye Dunaway oozes sex as Milady de Winter. And of course there is the wonderful Roy Kinnear as Planchet giving us plenty of simple humour as the put upon servant. But as I said with both the three and four Musketeers filming at the same time it is nothing less than you expect.

What this all boils down to is that "The Four Musketeers" is really as good as "The Three Musketeers" as they were filmed at the same time. But because the story which filled the first movie is better known this second one does become a little harder to follow if like me you're unfamiliar with the story.