Michael York as D’Artagnan in “The Four Musketeers” (1974) – reviewed by George

Last week Richard Lester’s Musketeers movie had a perfectly good ending, but here is the second half of the story.
D’Artagnan is being inducted into the King’s Musketeers in a ceremony performed in front of King Louis XIII (Jean Pierre Cassel) and Queen Anne (Geraldine Chaplin), where the first movie ended. Afterward he joins Constance (Raquel Welch) and they are greeted by Milady De Winter (Faye Dunaway) with a very strange expression. But then the subtitle of this part is “Milady’s Revenge”.
Immediately the Musketeers have to leave for La Rochelle to fight the Protestant rebels. Porthos (Frank Finlay), narrating, says they were trying to teach the rebels Christian charity by bombarding them to oblivion. When they arrive they find the rebels about to execute Rochefort (Christopher Lee) by firing squad, so they try to save him (why?). The rescue is funny, and it works. Actually, most of the hand-to-hand fighting is played for laughs. Well, perhaps Aramis (Richard Chamberlain) is a bit more serious.
Rochefort returns to the French camp where King Louis and Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) are arguing (no, discussing vigorously), and the King leaves to go back to Paris. Richelieu tells Rochefort that the Queen is still sending love letters to the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward), and he wants these letters stopped. The most efficient way is to eliminate Constance Bonacieux, since she is the one who carries the letters to the man who takes them to England. “She is, after all, only a woman.”
D’Artagan and Constance are shopping for food in an open air market, when she is kidnapped and he is beaten senseless, and Milady rescues him and takes him to her place.
Athos (Oliver Reed) has already told D’Artagnan the story of his wife, who stole his money and split after he found out that she had been branded for dishonor And now in Milady’s home, he sees the brand and puts it all together.
From here on D’Artagnan is driven by the need to find Constance and save her. This film is still comic in many scenes, but it is not as jolly and slapstickian as the first film: four major characters die in this half (there is one brilliantly funny bit where D’Artagnan and Jussac (Angel Del Pozo) fight with swords on a frozen river).
While everyone could have stopped after the first film, I’m certainly glad they did not. This film is just as worthy of your attention as the first, simply more serious.
Filmed in Spain and Completed at Twickenham, Music by Lalo Schifrin, Based on the Novel by Alexandre Dumas, Screenplay by George MacDonald Fraser, Directed by Richard Lester.

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