“Don’t worry: no noose is good noose.”
In 17th century France, D’Artagnan (Don Ameche) falls in love with a lady (Pauline Moore) in the court of King Louis XIII (Joseph Schildkraut), whose chief cardinal (Miles Mander) enlists the help of evil Milady De Winter (Binnie Barnes) and De Rochefort (Lionel Atwill) in disgracing the queen (Gloria Stuart) by stealing her emerald brooch. Will D’Artagnan’s three new musketeers (Harry Ritz, Al Ritz, and Jimmy Ritz) come to the rescue?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Allan Dwan Films
- Don Ameche Films
- John Carradine Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Royalty and Nobility
Peary almost certainly lists this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel in GFTFF given the presence of the Ritz Brothers, a comedic group described by Stuart Galbraith of DVD Talk as follows:
As for The Ritz Brothers (Al, Harry, and Jimmy), well, they’re as much an acquired taste now as they were 70 years ago. Completely forgotten today except by film buffs and old-time comics (their fans include Mel Brooks and, believe it not, Pauline Kael), the team was undeniably popular in the late-1930s and inarguably bridged the styles of film comedy that dominated the early- and mid-1930s (adapted from the stage and hangers-on from the silent era) with the slicker, faster, and streamlined comedians (Bob Hope, Abbott & Costello, etc.) that would dominate the forties, but their rubber-faced mugging generally plays more silly than funny.
Frank Nugent, in his review for the New York Times, was among the group’s current-day detractors, noting, “They leave me as cold as a marinated herring and twice as limp.” With that said, Ameche is game as D’Artagnan, and nicely matched by Barnes as a sly villainess — and the entire production is well-mounted. At just over 70 minutes long, it’s tolerable but innocuous. Feel free to skip this one unless you’re curious to see the Ritz Brothers in action.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Don Ameche as D’Artagnan
- Binnie Barnes as Milady De Winter
- Atmospheric cinematography and sets
No; you can skip this one.
One thought on “Three Musketeers, The (1939)”
First viewing. Yes, unless you’re a fan of the Dumas classic and wish to see it in any or every form… this is not must-see.
As noted, it’s certainly “innocuous”-enough, though all told it’s a bit of a piffle – with comic and musical elements which may have been a bit more potent in 1939 but which have not traveled well through time. As a result, even at 73 minutes, the film feels a bit long.
Ameche seems to have felt that, as long as he smiled his way (just about) throughout, all would be well. He acquits himself nicely, as do the main villains. But, alas, the Ritz Brothers… well, I’m sure their hearts were in the right place. (Ahem.)
The best that can be said of the film is that it was very nicely produced.