Sunday, August 14, 2022

Michel Legrand - Music from The Three Musketeers

The last two weeks have seen music from early swashbuckling films (from the 1930s).  Today closes out this exploration with what was probably the last really good swashbuckling film - 1973's "The Three Musketeers".  While the fencing scenes did not live up to the standard of Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, this film has much to recommend it: an all star cast, a ton of comedy, decent menace at the right time from the right characters, and music from a very under-rated composer.

I have quite fond memories of this film.  Christopher Lee (the real Most Interesting Man In The World) played the bad guy to perfection, Oliver Reid in his greatest role just before alcoholism stalled his career, Raquel Welch is a surprisingly funny performance (for which she won a Golden Globe), and outstanding music that was nominated not for an Oscar but rather for a Grammy.

It's not the 1930s swashbuckling - it feels more "modern" and perhaps "gritty" but it's great fun, and great listening.


Matthew W said...

Man I love that movie !!!
It was a fantastic comedy.
Michael York at his finest.
And of course, Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu !!!

Beans said...

It and it's sequel are the only "3 Musketeers" movies that adhere pert near much to the original stories.

Excellent movies, excellent costuming, excellent weapons, excellent horse furniture (no western saddles) and just excellent everything.

Yes, the sword fighting isn't as interesting as Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn, but the sword fighting was done correctly. (real sword fighting is rather boooring to those who do not know what to look for. Like watching Olympic fencing (which has nothing to do with real sword fighting, by the way, as it is overly stylized and full of stupid rules that make no sense. Now, go watch some English Civil War reenactors, or SCA light weapon fighters and you'll see far more similarities to the above referenced movies than Olympics)

And, yes, Charlton Heston rocked it as Richelieu. Who was, in the books, portrayed as not a bad man, just a man opposed to some of what our heroes did. In the book, Richelieu at one time hates our heroes while admiring them. You know, like real men.

Now, another great movie starring Michael York and with great music is "Romeo and Juliet," the one with Elizabeth Hussey as Juliet. York played Tybalt perfectly. Another movie that just hits every mark for perfection, costuming, fighting (not Errol Flynn class but more like real fighting) and acting and...

Then there's the other Michael York film with fantastic music. "Taming of the Shrew" with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Fantastic music, costuming, acting, oh, just about everything.

Aesop said...

Really two movies for the price of one, as the Salkind's shot the whole thing at once, then re-cut it into two separate movies, for which they were forced (The Salking Decision) to pay everyone involved double after they released the last part as The Four Musketeers.

It's been made into a movie half a dozen times; Disney execs should be stoned for the butchery they perpetrated with their awful version of the Dumas classic in 1993, which looks like a gut pile in deer season compared to the 1973 take by the Salkinds. But then again, they probably already were stoned, which explains how such substandard schlock ever got greenlighted to begin with, and demonstrates one again why 98% of remakes are total crap.

Aesop said...

And as for the sword-fighting, the fight director was legendary blade virtuoso William Hobbs (he fights Porthos at the end of the movie), who went on to choreograph just about every major swashbuckler made during the rest of his lifetime.

If you want a list of swashbuckling movies you should watch, his c.v. is a pretty good place to start.

chris said...

Greatly underrated movie. Fantastic humor - screenplay written by George MacDonald Fraser who also wrote the Flashman series of books (highly recommended).

Skyler the Weird said...

The one with Gene Kelly as D'artagnan, Van Heflin as Athos, and Lana Turner as Milady from 1949 is very similar to the 1970s version. Those are the best two musketeers films.

Ken said...

The Disney version of Musketeers is execrable. Those mooks looked like they barely knew which end of the sword to pick up. The Banderas/Zeta Jones Zorro films had some decent fight choreography.

Ken said...

Appended: Another often-overlooked piece of fight choreography that I thought quite well done is the Tony Curtis-Ross Martin fight in The Great Race.

pigpen51 said...

My band director in school was one of those who was using our very small school as a stepping stone to a much larger and more talented place. When she had been in our small school, of around 350 high school students, over 140 of them were in her high school band, because they just knew how good she was, even though she was a task master, who yelled at us, and even threw her baton at offending students on occasion.
She never left our school, years later telling me that she found that she could play any music she wanted to, with our talented musicians.
I remember playing a number of Michel LaGrande music, along with many other well known composers. I also played in our school Jazz band, and we went on tour my Junior year. I was actually an All American Musician, my senior year. Not that big of a deal, but it still was cool. I did play music in a rock band, for a few years, after school.
And I have had a love of all kinds of music, thanks to the teaching by a wonderful band director, in school. Except for Rap. I never have been able to quite get the appeal of that. To each his own, I guess.