Musketeer [2001]

Director: Peter Hyams
Actors: Mena Suvari, Catherine Deneuve, Tim Roth, Stephen Rea
Runtime: 105 minutes

Director Richard Lester strikes the perfect balance between slapstick and swashbuckling swordplay in this whimsical adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's grand adventure. Michael York, all innocence and wide-eyed chivalry as young D'Artagnan, makes quite an impression on his first day in Paris: he challenges all three of the legendary Musketeers to a duel, then joins them in arms against the cardinal's soldiers. The worldly rascals, led by Athos (Oliver Reed), who hides his brooding past behind a sarcastic wit, adopt the young hero. Soon D'Artagnan is stealing hearts and stealing food with equal aplomb as he joins their campaign to defend the queen (Geraldine Chaplin) against a plot devised by the scheming cardinal (Charlton Heston) and his cold-hearted accomplice Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway). Richard Chamberlain's Aramis, the trio's Don Juan and resident man of God, and Frank Finlay's fun-loving hedonist Porthos round out the Musketeers, while Christopher Lee's sneering Rochefort executes the cardinal's wishes as commander of the church's soldiers. Other members of this talented cast include Raquel Welch as the beautiful but disaster-prone seamstress to the queen, Spike Milligan as the beauty's jealous husband, Roy Kinnear as D'Artagnan's bumbling servant, Planchet, and Jean-Pierre Cassel as the clueless king. George MacDonald Fraser's rollicking screenplay combines boisterous adventure and roguish humor with marvelous characters, and Lester's dynamic direction turns it into one of the greatest comic swashbucklers of all time. Followed by The Four Musketeers, which continues the story in a darker vein. --Sean Axmaker

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