“To die among friends; can a man ask for more?”
An aspiring musketeer (Gene Kelly) in 17th century France joins veteran musketeers Athos (Van Heflin), Porthos (Gig Young), and Aramis (Robert Coote) in their efforts to protect Queen Anne (Angela Lansbury) against the evil intentions of Richelieu (Vincent Price) and his henchwoman, Lady de Winter (Lana Turner).
Fans of Alexandre Dumas’ swashbuckling classic will likely be the primary audience for this colorful literary adaptation, produced by MGM Studios and starring a host of big names in key roles — most notably Gene Kelly, who was excited about the opportunity to recreate the role (D’Artagnan) originally inhabited by his idol, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. There’s plenty of intrigue in the plotting-rich narrative, and those already familiar with the basic storyline and characters in Dumas’ serialized novel will fare best at puzzling out exactly what’s going on, and who’s attempting to do what to whom (and why); if you’re at all distracted while watching, however, you may find yourself a bit lost at times — though it’s never anything but clear who are the good guys/ladies (this group includes June Allyson as D’Artagnan’s instant beloved, Constance) versus the bad guys (guess which side Vincent Price falls on?). Personally, I find the production both overly comedic (Kelly’s performance in particular borders on clownish-ness) and far too melodramatic (Kelly and Allyson’s romance is never anything less than full-throttle — complete with overly strategic use of the infamous melody “Hearts and Flowers” whenever they’re together).
Note: Van Heflin gives the most impassioned and nuanced performance in the film, playing Athos with an appropriate level of brooding; whenever he’s on screen, one can’t help becoming absorbed in the story.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Van Heflin as Athos
- Lovely Technicolor cinematography
No; this one is only must-see for fans of the book or the genre.