“To any other man in this kingdom, twin sons would be a blessing.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
To an extent rarely seen in such portrayals, Hayward is utterly convincing playing two completely different, though physically identical, men: Louis is vile, narcissistic, and very likely psychopathic (though this is only gradually revealed), while Philippe is loyal, brave, and goodhearted. (It’s especially fun to see how Hayward subtly handles the moments when Philippe is pretending to be Louis.)
Also enjoyable is Joseph Schildkraut’s portrayal as Louis’ scheming right-hand man, Fouquet, who will seemingly do anything to achieve his ambitions, but who nonetheless reacts with appropriate alarm upon hearing Louis’ nefarious plans for his twin brother’s imprisonment. Joan Bennett is suitably beautiful and regal (but ultimately not all that distinguished) as the conflicted and confused Maria Theresa of Spain (who can’t figure out why her betrothed changes his personality each time she meets him); whenever the screenplay focuses on her romance with Louis/Phillip, things generally grind to a halt.
Meanwhile, the musketeers themselves — D’Artagnan (William), Porthos (Alan Hale), Aramis (Miles Mander), and Athos (Bert Roach) — aren’t on-screen very much of the time, but do get to play a critical role later in the storyline.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: