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The Four Musketeers

1975 movie poster
Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Alexander Salkind
Pierre Spengler
Ilya Salkind
Michael Slakind
Written by Novel:
Alexandre Dumas, père
George MacDonald Fraser
Starring Oliver Reed
Charlton Heston
Raquel Welch
Faye Dunaway
Richard Chamberlain
Frank Finlay
Michael York
Christopher Lee
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography David Watkin
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) West Germany October 31, 1974
Sweden December 25, 1974
United States February 26, 1975
United Kingdom September 1, 1975
Running time 108 min.
Country  United Kingdom
Language English
Preceded by The Three Musketeers
Followed by The Return of the Musketeers

The Four Musketeers is the title of a 1974 Richard Lester film, which follows upon his film of the year before, The Three Musketeers, and covers the second half of Dumas' novel The Three Musketeers. Fifteen years later, the cast and crew returned to film The Return of the Musketeers, loosely based on Dumas' Twenty Years After.

During post production on The Three Musketeers, the producers realized that there was enough footage for two films and created The Four Musketeers. Most of the actors were incensed that their work on the long shoot was used to make an entirely separate film. All SAG actors' contracts now have what is known as the "Salkind clause", which stipulates how many films are being made. Charlton Heston — who was handsomely paid for what was essentially a cameo role — was the only actor who did not feel cheated.

This is much the darker of the two films. There is less of the lighthearted horseplay seen in the first film. Constance is murdered by Milady, Rochefort is gravely wounded by d'Artagnan, and Milady is executed by a headsman as the Musketeers look on. We also see the backstory of the tangled relationship between Athos and Milady, and an extended prison sequence in which Milady uses her feminine wiles to turn the Duke of Buckingham's Puritan manservant into an assassin. In the end d'Artagnan triumphs over Richelieu's plotting and becomes an officer.



During a war between France and the rebels of La Rochelle, Cardinal Richelieu orders Count de Rochefort to kidnap Constance de Bonancieux. The evil Milady de Winter, who wants revenge on d'Artagnan, seduces him to keep him occupied. He soon discovers her true nature, however, and that she was once in love with Athos, but he supposedly killed her realizing what she was.

Athos, Porthos, and Aramis rescue Constance from her imprisonment in San Cleux and take her to safety in the convent of Armentieres. Milady sends d'Artagnan poisoned wine along with a note to trick him into thinking that the other musketeers got drunk and imprisoned by a marshal. As he goes to bail them out, he is attacked by Rochefort and his men. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis join the fight, at the end of which Rochefort runs away and one of his men is captured and tortured for information, revealing that Richelieu is going to the Dove Cot Inn, before he drinks the poisoned wine and dies, revealing the trap Milady set for d'Artagnan.

Athos spies on Richelieu as he gives Milady the order to ask the Duke of Buckingham not to send a fleet to aid the rebels, threatening him with the secret of his love affair with the queen, and to kill him if he does not comply. In return, Milady asks for a death warrant so she can kill d'Artagnan and Constance, and he reluctantly signs one, wording it in a way so that it does not leave any evidence against him. However, Athos takes the death warrant from her.

Milady asks Buckingham not to help the rebels, but he refuses, so Milady tries to assassinate him, but is captured. Buckingham's servant Felton locks her away in a tower, but she seduces him and convinces him that Buckingham is his enemy. Felton helps her escape and return to France, and then kills Buckingham (and is subsequently captured) before d'Artagnan's servant Planchet can warn him. It is not long before La Rochelle surrenders.

Now bent on killing d'Artagnan and Constance, Rochefort and Milady attack the convent at Armentieres, and battle the four musketeers when they arrive. Athos duels Rochefort but is injured in the arm, and Milady strangles Constance before being captured by Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. d'Artagnan duels Rochefort to the death and stabs him in the chest, killing him. Milady is sentenced to death by the four musketeers, and they hire a headsman to take her across the lake and chop her head off.

Richelieu charges d'Artagnan for killing his two most valuable servants, but he shows him the signed death warrant, which reads "By my order for the good of the state, the bearer has done what has been done." Utterly defeated and quite impressed at d'Artagnan's achievement of a victory over Rochefort, the cardinal gives him a commission for either him or one of his three friends to become an officer. Athos, Porthos, and Aramis turn it down, so d'Artagnan is now the lieutenant of the four musketeers.


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