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The Three Musketeers
File:Three Musketeers 1974.jpg
1974 poster
Directed byRichard Lester[1]
Written byGeorge MacDonald Fraser
Produced byAlexander Salkind
Ilya Salkind[2]
Pierre Spengler
StarringOliver Reed
Charlton Heston
Raquel Welch
Faye Dunaway
Richard Chamberlain
Frank Finlay
Michael York
Christopher Lee
CinematographyDavid Watkin
Edited byJohn Victor Smith
Music byMichel Legrand
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 11 December 1973 (1973-12-11) (France)
  • 29 March 1974 (1974-03-29) (US/UK)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$10.1 million (US/ Canada)[3]

The Three Musketeers (also known as The Three Musketeers: The Queen's Diamonds) is a 1973 film based on the The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by George MacDonald Fraser. It was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles, whom Lester had directed in two other films.

The film adheres closely to the novel, but also injects a fair amount of humor. It was shot by David Watkins, with an eye for period detail. The fight scenes were choreographed by master swordsman William Hobbs.


Having learned swordsmanship from his father, the young country bumpkin d'Artagnan arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a king's musketeer. Unaccustomed to the city life, he makes a number of clumsy faux pas. First he finds himself insulted, knocked out and robbed by the Comte de Rochefort, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu, and once in Paris comes into conflict with three musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, each of whom challenges him to a duel for some accidental insult or embarrassment. As the first of these duels is about to begin, Jussac arrives with five additional swordsmen of Cardinal Richelieu's guards. D'Artagnan sides with the musketeers in the ensuing street fight and becomes their ally in opposition to the Cardinal, who wishes to increase his already considerable power over the king, Louis XIII. D'Artagnan also begins an affair with his landlord's wife, Constance Bonacieux, who is dressmaker to the Queen, Anne of Austria.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Buckingham, former lover of the Queen, turns up and asks for something in remembrance of her; she gives him a necklace with twelve settings of diamonds, a gift from her husband. From the Queen's treacherous lady in waiting, the Cardinal learns of the rendezvous and suggests to the none-too-bright King to throw a ball in his wife's honor, and request she wear the diamonds he gave her. The Cardinal also sends his agent Milady de Winter to England, who seduces the Duke and steals two of the necklace's diamonds.

Meanwhile, the Queen has confided her troubles in Constance, who asks d'Artagnan to ride to England and get back the diamonds. D'Artagnan and the three musketeers set out, but on the way the Cardinal's men attack them. Only d'Artagnan and his servant make it through to Buckingham, where they discover the loss of two of the diamond settings. The Duke replaces the two settings, and d'Artagnan races back to Paris. Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, wounded but not dead as d'Artagnan had feared, aid the delivery of the complete necklace to the Queen, saving the royal couple from the embarrassment which the Cardinal had plotted.

Captain Tréville eventually inducts d'Artagnan into the Musketeers of the King's Guard.


  • Michael York as d'Artagnan
  • Oliver Reed as Athos
  • Frank Finlay as Porthos / O'Reilly
  • Richard Chamberlain as Aramis
  • Jean-Pierre Cassel as King Louis XIII of France
  • Geraldine Chaplin as Anne of Austria
  • Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu
  • Faye Dunaway as Milady de Winter
  • Christopher Lee as the Count De Rochefort
  • Simon Ward as the Duke of Buckingham
  • Raquel Welch as Constance Bonacieux
  • Spike Milligan as M. Bonacieux
  • Roy Kinnear as Planchet
  • Nicole Calfan as Kitty


According to George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Lester became involved with the project when the producers briefly considered casting The Beatles as the Musketeers, as Lester had directed two films with the group. The Beatles idea fell by the wayside but Lester stayed. In late 1972 he hired Fraser to write the scripts, saying he wanted to make a four-hour film and cast Richard Chamberlain as Aramis. It was later decided to turn the script into two films.[4]


The movie was met with mostly positive reviews.[5] Vincent Canby of The New York Times had this to say about the film: "Mr. Lester seems almost exclusively concerned with action, preferably comic, and one gets the impression after a while that he and his fencing masters labored too long in choreographing the elaborate duels. They're interesting to watch, though they are without a great deal of spontaneity."[6]

Awards and nominations[]

Raquel Welch won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her performance. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

George MacDonald Fraser won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best British Comedy Screenplay.

Salkind Clause[]

The film was originally intended to be an epic which ran for three hours including an intermission, but during production, it was determined the film could not make its announced release date in that form, so a decision was made to split the long epic into two shorter features, the second part becoming 1974's The Four Musketeers.

According to Ben Mankiewicz on a May 14, 2016 showing of the film on TCM, during an advanced screening, attended by the cast, after the movie ended a trailer for The Four Musketeers was shown, which none of the cast had heard anything about until then.

This incensed the actors and crew, since they were being paid for one film, and their original contracts made no mention of a second feature, resulting in lawsuits being filed to receive compensation for salaries associated with the sequel.

This led to the Screen Actor's Guild requiring all future actors' contracts to include what has become known as the "Salkind clause", which stipulates how many films are being made.[7][8]


Along with The Four Musketeers, released the following year with footage originally intended combine with this films to be part of a much longer film.

In 1989, much of the cast and crew of the original returned to film The Return of the Musketeers, loosely based on Dumas' 1845 novel Twenty Years After.


  1. Shivas, Mark (5 August 1973). "Lester's Back and the 'Musketeers' Have Got Him". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  2. Sloman, Tony (25 March 1997). "Obituary: Alexander Salkind". Independent. London. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  3. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p232. Please note figures are rentals accruing to distributors and not total gross.
  4. George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p1-16
  5. "The Three Musketeers - The Queen's Diamonds". Variety. 31 December 1972. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  6. Canby, Vincent (4 April 1974). "Spirites 'Three Musketeers' (No. 6)". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  7. Russo, Tom (9 April 2004). "Franchise This". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  8. Salmans, Sandra (17 July 1983). "FILM VIEW; THE SALKIND HEROES WEAR RED AND FLY HIGH". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2010.

External links[]

Template:Richard Lester Template:George MacDonald Fraser Template:The Three Musketeers