The Three Musketeers was written by Alexandre Dumas and his writing partner, Auguste Maquet, in 1844. The novel was serialised from March to July 1844 in the newspaper Le Siècle.
The novel is set during the reign of Louis XIII and follows the adventures of the young d’Artagnan as he travels to Paris to become a musketeer. A series of misunderstandings lead to him accepting duels from Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the three most famous musketeers of the time and all four soon become inseparable.
While the novel is mostly a swashbuckling series of adventures, it does have a darker tone in certain parts as Dumas frequently pits those loyal to the sovereign against those loyal to the cardinal. It served to mirror the ongoing debate between the monarchists and the republicans which was still ongoing when the novel was written.
The Three Musketeers is the first in a series of books which fall within The d’Artagnan Romances, also consisting of the sequels, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1921)
After a series of silent movies from both French and American studios, Hollywood icon Douglas Fairbanks starred as d’Artagnan in one of the most famous silent versions in 1921.
Having already swashbuckled his way through The Mask of Zorro, Fairbanks was keen to continue that success with The Three Musketeers. The athletic Fairbanks did all of his own stunts and even kept the moustache he grew for d’Artagnan for the rest of his life.
It spawned a sequel called The Iron Mask which had brief sequences of sound dialogue and was Fairbanks’ first talking picture. However, the advent of talking films would ultimately lead to the demise of Fairbanks’ career as he was frustrated by the process.
LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES (1932)
The first sound version was made by French director Henri Diamant-Berger in 1932 and it was a remake of a hugely successful French silent movie that had been released in 1921.
The new sound version featured most of the same cast and was an impressive six hours in length which was cut into two parts: Les Ferrets de la Reine and Milady.
While each part remained faithful to the original story, the second featured a number of scenes of the characters singing so it appeared more like a musical.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1935)
The first English language version of the book was released by RKO Radio Pictures in 1935, starring Walter Abel as d’Artagnan and Margot Grahame as Milady.
The film changed the backgrounds of some of the characters, most notably Constance who is now the ward of d’Artagnan’s landlord rather than his wife. She also remains alive at the end of the film and Milady commits suicide instead of being executed.
The film was not well received by critics who felt it was too dreary and nowhere near as exciting as the Fairbanks version.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948)
The Three Musketeers was given the big budget treatment by MGM in 1948 and it became one of their highest grossing films of the 1940s.
The film was directed by George Sidney, and starred Gene Kelly as d’Artagnan, Lana Turner as Milady, June Allyson as Constance and Vincent Price as Richelieu.
Filming was delayed when Gene Kelly broke his ankle and the sword fighting scenes had to be re-scheduled towards the end of the shoot to give his ankle more time to heal.
The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography (Color) at the 21st Academy Awards.
LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES (1953)
The 1953 release was a French-Italian adaptation directed by André Hunebelle from a screenplay by Michel Audiard.
The film, which was shot in Paris and at the Palace of Fontainebleau, was a huge success in France and was one of the top ten films that year.
The film stayed mainly faithful to the original, however it glosses over Milady’s grim execution and it was criticised for its lacklustre performances. Hunebelle would go on to direct other historical adventure films with French actor Jean Marais which would be far more successful.
LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES (1961)
Another French version was released in 1961 and was one of the top ten films of that year at the French box office.
Directed by Bernard Borderie, the film was cut into two parts, entitled Les Ferrets de La Reine and La Vengeance de Milady, which were released separately in the same year.
French actress Mylène Demongeot loved the character of Milady so much she lobbied hard for the part and accepted a ridiculous cut in pay to win it.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973)
Twentieth Century Fox released another big budget production in 1973, direct by Richard Lester from a screenplay by George MacDonald Fraser.
The all-star cast included Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, Richard Chamberlain, Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston and Geraldine Chaplin.
While the film sticks very close to the original plot, the humour is ramped up a level and the tone was campier than previous versions.
The story was continued in The Four Musketeers (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989), however the latter was overshadowed by the death of Roy Kinnear (Planchet) after an onset accident.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1993)
In 1992, three different productions of The Three Musketeers were announced by Walt Disney Studios, Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures, however only the Disney film made it into production after some controversy over the ownership of the screenplay.
Directed by Stephen Herek, the film starred Chris O’Donnell, Charlie Sheen, Keifer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Rebecca de Mornay and Tim Curry.
Although test screenings had been promising, the final release was savaged by critics who derided it for caring more about its glossy look than storytelling.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2011)
The 2011 release was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, an English film-maker renowned for science fiction movies and video games adaptations.
Despite the gimmick of a 3D release, the film was criticised for straying too far from the original story and for its bland performances.
The cast included Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Mads Mikkelsen, Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS: D’ARTAGNAN (2023)
The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan is the first in a lavish two-part adaption from French director Martin Bourboulon which was released in France by Pathé on 5 April 2023. The second part, The Three Musketeers: Milady, was released in France on 13 December 2023.
Both films were shot back-to-back and were financed by French, German, Spanish and Belgian companies. It is the first French adaptation of the book since 1961 and was filmed on location in France.
The film has received a generally positive reception and two television spin-offs, Milady Origins and Black Musketeer, have been announced.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1954)
The first televised adaptation was done by the BBC in 1954 and consisted of six half-hour episodes.
The cast included Laurence Payne, Roger Delgado, Paul Whitsun-Jones and Paul Hansard.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1966)
Twelve years after their first adaptation, the BBC made another series of The Three Musketeers in 1966 which consisted of ten half-hour episodes..
The series starred Jeremy Brett as d’Artagnan, Jeremy Young as Athos, Gary Watson as Aramis and Brian Blessed as Porthos.
A sequel The Further Adventures of The Musketeers soon followed, however only Jeremy Young and Brian Blessed reprised their roles.
The series was released on DVD in 2006.
THE MUSKETEERS (2014)
The BBC made another adaptation in 2014 in collaboration with BBC America and BBC Worldwide. The show was produced by Jessica Pope and Adrian Hodges, and largely filmed in the Czech Republic.
The cast included Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles and Mamie McCoy.
The show received mixed reviews as the story diverged greatly from the original material to support its episodic structure. The roles of the female characters were expanded, however this was sometimes at the expense of the main characters.
The show ran for three seasons consisting of ten episodes each.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1968)
An animated version of The Three Musketeers was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for the American channel NBC and was shown between 1968-69.
The eighteen episodes were ten minutes in length and were shown as part of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Each adventure sees our intrepid heroes fighting the enemies of Louis XIV. They are often helped by Lady Constance and her young nephew, Tooley, who longs to be a musketeer.
The series was developed into an animated film in 1973 by the Australian branch of Hanna-Barbera for Famous Classic Tales on CBS.
DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKEHOUNDS (1981)
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds is a Spanish-Japanese animated series produced by Spanish studio BRB Internacional with animation by Japanese studio Nippon Animation.
Most of the characters from the book have been recreated as of dogs, however the character of Milady is a cat.
The series first aired in Japan in 1981 and then in Spain the following year. The series was dubbed into English in 1985 and was shown in the UK on the BBC. A sequel The Return of Dogtanian was produced in 1989 and ran for 26 episodes.
In 2021, a computer animated film was produced by BRB Internacional and announced a television series follow-up Dogtanian: The Hero is in development.