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Retro Cinema – The Three Musketeers

Retro Cinema – The Three Musketeers

If any actor was perfectly cast for the role of the swashbuckling D’Artagnan in a big screen adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas adventure, it was silent screen icon Douglas Fairbanks. With his kinetic athleticism and vibrant charisma, Fairbanks created the concept of the movie action hero in this opulent 1921 production, which is being offered in a new DVD release with a digital restoration by Marcus Johnson and a new theater organ score by Ben Model.

This version is faithful to the Dumas text, so be forewarned that there is a surplus amount of scheming by various members of the French court before D’Artagnan and the Musketeers (including a young and slender Eugene Pallette) arrive to engage in some of the most entertaining swordplay ever captured on film. And while Fred Niblo’s direction encourages some wonderfully broad acting – Adolphe Menjou’s emotional Louis XIII, Nigel de Brulier’s sinister Cardinal Richelieu and long-forgotten vamp Barbara La Marr’s dangerous Milady de Winter – the film belongs to Fairbanks, who embodies D’Artagnan with a youthful recklessness and sublime physical prowess that turns the character into a force energy that is astonishing to behold.

While there have been numerous screen versions of The Three Musketeers, Fairbanks still owns the role of D’Artagnan – and this silent classic is still a joy to behold.


Phil Hall Phil Hall has enjoyed a three-decade career in the film industry as a journalist, critic, publicist, distributor, festival programmer and actor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Wired, American Movie Classics Magazine and Film Threat. He is the author of seven books, including "The History of Independent Cinema," "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time" and "In Search of Lost Films."


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