Based on the famous novel by Alexander Dumas, this tells of the wicked King Louis the XIV who keeps his identical twin hidden in an iron mask, deep within a dungeon, out of harms way. When the fabled three musketeers learn of the plot, they unite with soo
James Whale lends his taste for the flamboyant, fed by his string of horror hits, to the classic tale of shadowy identities, royal wrong-doing and the correctional uses of the pointy end of a rapier with some aplomb. It’s lavish, full of deep shadows and sweeping camerawork, playing the extravagances of Alexander Dumas’ storytelling for all they are worth. There’s no doubting the melodrama, or the thinness of its psychology, but it is bold and stirringly old-fashioned.
The pleasure of these musketeer fables is the intricacy of their plotting. Having one twin as a cruel king, and his brother as a potentially just one sets up a fairy-tale framework for the thriller to follow. Louis Hayward convincingly etches out the contrasting brethren, the manipulator on one side who eventually has his secret looky-likey stored in the basement of the Bastille with iron headgear to save any confusion. The swashbuckling trio of musketeers (always hearty and heroic), and hero D’Artagnan, are the only ones who knew of this double-trouble, having raised the good twin, and set about switching them the other way for the sake of France.
It rolls along with gusto and general silliness, never touching the heights of the Errol Flynn rousers, but thanks to its stylish director a natty stridency all its own, making it probably the best adaptation of the book there has been.
Buckles will be swashed in this Musketeer romp, all good fun.