As someone who is somewhat obsessive about her Dumas, I did a little dance of joy upon hearing that not one but two remakes of The Three Musketeers are on the way. I don’t particularly expect that these remakes will be good (helmed as they are by Paul W.S. Anderson and potentially the guy who made Marley and Me, although the guy behind Mr. & Mrs. Smith is apparently in the running and might do a good job), but I do expect that they will be highly, highly entertaining. I tend not to hope for more in Dumas movies. The material is wonderful, and wonderful on many levels, but Hollywood tends to content itself with lifting the beautifully choreographed intrigue and action, leaving a lot of the emotional resonance, especially when it comes to the close relationships between men, behind. It’s the reason no one will ever make Twenty Years After: it’s impossible to capture the dissolution of D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis’s friendship if you never understood its value in the first place.
Janet Maslin may not have liked it, and I have a hard time blaming her for that since she is a Very Serious Critic, but I am extremely fond of the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers. The movie itself is risible, of course: no one even tries for accents, and the comedy is very, very broad (see: Curry, Tim:
But the cast is just fantastic across the board: Curry, Oliver Platt and Keifer Sutherland slumming it as Cardinal Richelieu, Porthos and Athos respectively, Charlie Sheen in the period of his career when he was bearable as Aramis. Julie Delphy is lovely as Constance, a pre-Burn Notice Gabrielle Anwar as Queen Anne, and Rebecca De Mornay as an archetypal Milady. The writing’s ridiculous but delivered with a lot of panache. The sight of Platt roaring “to be a proper Musketeer, you must be schooled in the manly art of wenching” at Chris O’Donnell in the height of his boy-toy summer, is so delightful that a friend and I briefly ran a blog titled “The Manly Art of Wenching” in college, which, considering our collective sexual experience, was even more hilarious than we thought it was. I have a real weakness for movies like this, where the quality isn’t that high, but everyone’s having fun. I hope these competing remakes at least meet that standard.