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Film / The Three Musketeers (1921)

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The Three Musketeers is a 1921 film starring Douglas Fairbanks, directed by Fred Niblo.

In 17th century France, D'Artagnan, a young Gascon idealist looking for adventure, arrives in Paris to join King Louis XIII's elite military force, the Musketeers. He is taken under the wing of three of the best Musketeers, Porthos, Athos, and Aramis. He also finds love with beautiful Constance (Marguerite De La Mott), lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne. Meanwhile, there are conspiracies afoot. Specifically, the Cardinal Richelieu is plotting with Femme Fatale Milady de Winter to bring down Anne, who is Richelieu's chief rival in exerting power and influence over the king. His scheme is to sow doubt into the king's mind regarding Anne, and specifically her not-so-former suitor, the English Duke of Buckingham.

One of many adaptations of the famous novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Fairbanks reprised the role of D'Artagnan in this film's sequel, The Iron Mask, which turned out to be his last silent film.


  • The Cameo: A very young Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who would go on to be a major star in his own right, has a small cameo as a French boy.
  • The Chessmaster: Cardinal Richelieu, who expertly manipulates the king into being suspicious of his wife's fidelity. He goes so far as to forge a letter from the Queen to Buckingham to get Buckingham to Paris, and then trick her into signing it.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: On a dare, D'Artagnan leaps into an inn where some of the cardinal's guards are having dinner, gets the drop on them, and steals their food.
  • Epic Movie: Just one of several Fairbanks made in this decade as he became the first Action Hero.
  • Evil Chancellor: Cardinal Richelieu, cheating and scheming for his own ends.
  • Flynning: The dramatic sword-clashing style that was popularized in Fairbanks films of this era. He has a stunt where he vaults clean over the swords of two duellists who are Flynning.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: D'Artagnan is fighting with a mook at the top of a flight of stairs. Eventually he picks up the mook and throws him downstairs into the path of a second mook who is climbing the stairs in pursuit.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Richelieu is shown nestling a kitten as he has his minion prepare a forged letter from the Queen to Buckingham.
  • Roof Hopping: D'Artagnan is forced to do this with Constance to escape form the cardinal's guards.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu are shown playing chess in the very first scene. This serves to establish both of them as intellectuals and also as The Chessmaster.
  • Standard Royal Court: It's not really a Decadent Court but it does have minsters and attendants and ladies-in-waiting and an Evil Chancellor.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: It does for D'Artagnan. When he sees that one of Richelieu's men has a Musketeer cornered and is about to finish him, D'Artagnan hurls his sword and gets the guard in the chest. The wound isn't fatal and the guard tells his buddies, leading the vengeful captain of the guard to call D'Artagnan "My young harpooner."
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • Where Anne stuffs the letter from Buckingham, but not before Richelieu sees her do it.
    • Also where Milady de Winter hides the incriminating jeweled buckle after she steals it from Buckingham.
  • Worthy Opponent: Richelieu seems to feel this way. After he's finally defeated by D'Artagnan, he urges D'Artagnan to think of him as "a generous foe", then releases Constance and the Musketeers and offers D'Artagnan a commission in his guards. Instead D'Artagnan is officially commissioned as a Musketeer.