Monday, July 27, 2020

ATHOS, ARAMIS, AND PORTHOS WALK INTO A BAR ...


Athos, Aramis, and Porthos walk into a bar --- the Coq d'Or. And are lost to the rest of the picture.

There is no site in all Paris more popular for the settling of disputes than the tavern Coq d'Or on the Rue Pigalle.

The three intrepid musketeers and BFFs played by Douglass Dumbrille, John "Dusty" King, and Russell Hicks have separately arrived at the notorious tavern to settle scores with a young upstart, new to Paris. D'Artagnan, played by Don Ameche, has this very day arrived in the big city from Gascony. The young man is filled with confidence and the skill to back it up. He has a winning smile and a song in his heart.

Don Ameche, our lovable and headstrong D'Artagnan

Yes, a song in his heart! The song is Voila and this 1939 version of Alexandre Dumas' classic adventure tale is a comedy/musical spoof from Twentieth Century Fox under the sure direction of veteran Canadian-born director Allan Dwan. Mr. Dwan was awarded the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Career Achieve Award in 1976.

The production values which have lent a timelessness to many of the studio's literary adaptations are present in the design by David Hall, costumes by Royer, the set decorations by Thomas Little, and Peverell Marley's cinematography. The perfect cinematic backdrop allows the audience to sit back and enjoy the laughter and song.

Al, Harry, and Jimmy Ritz

I sort the Ritz lads by following the rule of Harry being in the middle and, being the eldest, Al must be the shortest, and that leaves Jimmy. Someone tell me a better way.

These musketeers are a combative lot, hence the haste to show up the young upstart from Gascony. Awaiting D'Artagnan's arrival at the Coq d'Or, Athos, Aramis, and Porthos decide to have some sport with the three lackeys employed at the tavern. A drinking game, however, finds the three musketeers knocked out for the duration of our tale while Al, Jimmy, and Harry Ritz goof off in the official uniform of the King's Musketeers. A recent spate of brawling by those in uniform has also led to the following royal edict. Oh-oh!

By Order of the King
From this date, any person discovered garbed in the uniform of the King's Musketeers without due authority, shall be subject to the Penalty of Death.
April 20, 1625

Fighting naturally ensues when soldiers of Cardinal Richelieu meet up with the bogus musketeers at the tavern. Joining in the fray with who he considers are genuine fellow musketeers is the impetuous D'Artagnan. Thus, a bond of friendship and self-preservation is formed among the four.

Pauline Moore and Don Ameche as Lady Constance and D'Artagnan

The love song of Lady Constance and D'Artagnan, My Lady by Samuel Pokrass and Walter Bullock is played instrumentally throughout the score and reprised charmingly by our leading man in the movie.

The Three Musketeers follows the popular plotline from the novel of royal intrigue and romance from this point. Queen Anne played by Gloria Stuart makes the mistake of offering one of her famous jewels as a memento to the besotted Duke of Buckingham played by Lester Matthews.

Gloria Stuart, Pauline Moore

A spy played by John Carradine relays the information to the ambitious Cardinal Richelieu played by Miles Mander. The Cardinal impresses upon King Louis XIII played by Joseph Schildkraught that the Queen must wear the jewel, a gift from the people of France, at an upcoming event to prove her fidelity. D'Artagnan has fallen in love with the Queen's loyal lady-in-waiting, Lady Constance played by Pauline Moore. He, and most certainly his new-found musketeer companions, vow to retrieve the incriminating brooch.


Binnie Barnes as Milady de Winter vs. the whirlwind that is The Ritz Brothers

Lionel Atwill as the villainous de Rochefort has a secret weapon in the glamorous Milady de Winter played by Binnie Barnes. The race is on to steal the jewel back from Buckingham and bring it to the Queen to stop a war or to Richelieu and disorder.

The derring-do/stunts in The Three Musketeers are as exciting as any filmic adventure. There are humorous delights to be found in Don Ameche's ebullient characterization and in the Ritz Brothers antics and dance number. So much sly fun is packed into its 73-minute runtime that one might wish for just a few minutes more. I would plan a delightful weekend double bill around this charmer and The Court Jester.
















16 comments:

  1. The Three Musketeers story seems well-suited for a musical adaptation—and I can imagine Don Ameche as a comic D’artagnan. This is one story Hollywood loves to tell over and over, isn’t it?

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    1. I haven't counted, but I think The Three Musketeers, along with A Christmas Carol, and Three Godfathers must be among the most "re-imagined" stories in cinema history.

      Gavin enjoys the 2004 Disney take with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. I'm not sure if I like it or it is merely self-preservation when he puts it on a loop.

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  2. PAULINE MOORE and BINNIE BARNES were both in THREE BLIND MICE(38) with LORETTA YOUNG. Interestingly, DON AMECHE was in the musical remake MOON OVER MIAMI(41) with BETTY GRABLE. BOB CUMMINGS, CAROLE LANDIS and CHARLOTTE GREENWOOD were also in the movie.

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    1. Don Ameche did a lot of musical for Fox; a multi-talented actor I always enjoy. Three Blind Mice was a nice chance for Pauline in an "A" picture, but she never seemed to get the breaks.

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  3. For me, the highlights of this version are the performances by those reliable scene-stealers Joseph Schildkraut and Lionel Atwill. Plus, Don Ameche is undeniably likable as D’Artagnan.

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    1. Every time I get Schildkraut or Atwill pigeon-holed in my mind, they pop up in something unexpected as if they are shouting "surprise!"

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  4. This film is such a charming take on this much-adapted novel; and the Brothers Ritz are so goofily likable, as is Mr. Ameche, who captures something so right about the youthful, impulsive D'Artagnan. I'm glad you highlighted this version, as it doesn't seem so well known today.

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    1. I'm so glad you are another fan. I agree that it really captures the joie de vivre that this sort of movie adventure needs.

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  5. I like the light-hearted musicals that BETTY GRABLE did. I also have seen DORIS DAY in some musicals. I have mentioned that I like GINGER ROGERS and JUNE HAVER. Do you like the more serious musicals? I saw CAROUSEL and it was...different. Im a fan of GORDON MACRAE that was also in OKLAHOMA. I am a fan of HOWARD KEEL because of the show DALLAS and the movies SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS and SHOWBOAT.

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    1. I love music and enjoy everything from Vaudeville to opera. The great songwriters like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Harry Warren are favourites.

      I was listening to Gordon MacRae earlier today, the duets he made with Jo Stafford are wonderful.

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  6. Do you know the work of country singer GARY MORRIS? He did a BROADWAY musical with opera songs(I believe). I think he has a beautiful voice. He and CRYSTAL GAYLE recorded some duets including a new theme song to ANOTHER WORLD. He recorded WIND BENEATH MY WINGS which is one of his most popular songs. He also acted on THE COLBYS which had a great cast-CHARLTON HESTON, RICARDO MONTALBAN, JOSEPH CAMPANELLA and one of our favorites MISS BARBARA STANWYCK. (Like you, I didn't watch the show.)

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    1. I remember the theme to Another World and I believe Gary Morris was in Les Miserables. Jean Valjean is quote the challenging role for a singer/actor.

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  7. A smashing review, so much fun. I've never seen this one, but though I've never been a big fan of the brothers Ritz, I do love Don Ameche. I agree with your comment about the duets of Gordon MacRae and Jo Stafford - lovely. I love the mini musicals he did on his radio show The Railroad Hour.

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    1. There is so much talent to discover in the past that I'll never catch up to today.

      The Three Musketeers has a sense of fun that others try to achieve. Don Ameche is darling here, and I shouldn't be surprised if you might find your heart softening toward the Ritz bros.

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  8. Speaking of music REGIS PHILBIN recorded some albums. Sadly Regis died July 24 at the age of 88. He was in the next-to-last PERRY MASON TV-Movie THE CASE OF THE TELL-TALE TALK SHOW HOST. He played a reporter in an ep of THE BIG VALLEY. (It was a small part.) The title was THE CHALLENGE with JAMES GREGORY as a politician that is an old beau of VICTORIA BARKLEY. Did you know that Regis was once the son-in-law of actor FRANK FAYLEN who played the dad HERBERT GILLIS on THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS?

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    1. I recall Regis's acting gigs on those shows, and on Spin City and Hot in Cleveland. I did not know that information about his first marriage. One thing I do know Regis and I have in common is a love of Perry Como.

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