Three Musketeers, The (1948): MGM Technicolor Version, Starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, June Allyson

George Sidney (better known for musicals) directed this  popular Technicolor version, based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel, The Three Musketeers, which was filmed before and would be filmed again and again.

Gene Kelly plays D’Artagnan, an inexperienced youth, traveling to Paris to join the King’s Musketeers.  On his way, he encounters a mysterious lady at a roadside inn. When he picks a fight with her escort, she becomes suspicious and has him knocked. His father’s letter of  introduction to de Treville (Reginald Owen), the commander, is then burned. When he awakens, he continues on to the city.

In Paris, he presents himself to de Treville, who recognizes d’Artagnan’s description of one of his assailants and makes him a cadet. The young Gascon annoys three of the most skillful Musketeers, Athos (Van Heflin), Porthos (Gig Young) and Aramis (Robert Coote), and each challenges him to duel. The master swordsmen are amused by the newcomer’s audacity.

But they are interrupted by Richelieu’s guards, who try to arrest the Musketeers. Outraged that the three are outnumbered, d’Artagnan joins them in dispatching their foes, displaying swordsmanship, which gets him into their ranks.

D’Artagnan rescues and falls in love with Constance Bonacieux (June Allyson) a confidante of Queen Anne (Angela Lansbury), married to King Louis XIII (Frank Morgan).

Richelieu (Vincent Price) persuades the King to go to war with Britain, and arranges a ball.  D’Artagnan and his friends volunteer to travel to Britain to retrieve the jewels, but they are ambushed by Richelieu’s men. Finally, only d’Artagnan and his servant Planchet are left to reach the Duke. However, Richelieu had already sent Milady (Lana Turner) to work her charm and steal two of the studs. The Duke’s jeweler replacements them and d’Artagnan races back to France, arriving just in time to save the Queen from disgrace.

Richelieu has Constance abducted in an attempt to enlist him in his service.  When Athos discovers that the Countess de Winter is actually his treacherous wife, he tries to warn d’Artagnan. Later on, d’Artagnan finds out that Athos was telling the truth, when he sees a brand on Milady’s shoulder, the mark of a common criminal.

Fighting breaks out between Britain and France. The Queen succeeds in freeing Constance and sends her to Buckingham for safety. When the war goes against him, Richelieu sends de Winter to Britain to assassinate his foe. The Musketeers learn of the plot and send Planchet to warn the Duke. Athos confronts Milady and recovers the carte blanche as proof of Richelieu’s treachery. De Winter is imprisoned by the Duke and placed in the custody of Constance, but when the latter lets her guard down de Winter kills first her, then Buckingham. Athos and d’Artagnan arrive too late to save them.

D’Artagnan and Athos return to France determined to find the Countess de Winter and give her justice for the murders of the Duke of Buckingham and Constance. Captain de Treville informs them that de Winter has not been seen in the city, and warns the Musketeers that she is under Richelieu’s protection; if they continue their vendetta, if they are not killed they will have to flee to Spain as wanted men. They elect to proceed after Aramis recalls a conversation between Milady and Richelieu concerning the granting of a title and an estate near Lille.

Caught again by the Musketeers at that estate, the ancestral home of Athos, she begs for mercy but finds none, even though her husband still loves her despite her many crimes. Seeing this, she calms herself and walks with dignity to her execution. The Musketeers are ambushed by Richelieu’s men, captured, and returned to the Royal Court for judgment.

Richelieu is about to have them sentenced to death by the king, but d’Artagnan produces the carte blanche. Richelieu is compelled to recommend to King Louis that he grant Aramis’ wish to enter a monastery; Porthos, an introduction to a rich widow; Athos, the restoration of title and lands; and d’Artagnan, a commission as Musketeer and mission to England, for “the English lead too dull a life.”

Dismissed by the King, the quartet stride from the throne room in triumph.

This version was extremely popular, grossing over $10 million at the box-office as the year’s fifth top-grosser.

Running time: 125 minutes

Release date: October 21, 1948