Douglas Fairbanks presents Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (1921): 95th Anniversary Edition (DVD)

Courtesy of Undercrank Productions, “Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers” starring Douglas Fairbanks garners a brand new DVD restoration. With a new score by Ben Model (along with new color tinting digital restoration, and stabilization), and with restoration by Karl Malkames, “The Three Musketeers” can be appreciated in a new edition and new vision. One of the many iterations of the classic action tale, “The Three Musketeers” stars film icon Douglas Fairbanks as the noble swordsman D’ Artagnan a young man who goes to Paris to become an ally to three of the best swordsmen alive. They are, of course, Athos as played by Leon Bary, Porthos as played by George Siegmann, and Aramis as played by Eugene Pallette.

They are musketeers by trade, but they also work as a security force for Louis XIII, sans muskets. The evil Cardinal Richelieu begins scheming with Milady De Winter to bring scandal to Queen Anne and defame her and the movie relatively unfolds the original tale in two hours in length. Most of the film is all about swashbuckling action proving the movie is first and foremost about war winning over logic through and through. Fairbanks is memorable and dynamic in the role of D’Artagnan, who wins the favor of the Musketeers and indulges in much combat with his enemies in order to save the Queen and his girlfriend. Fred Niblo’s action adventure works well even nearing its hundred year mark. The new edition sports a ton of color filters and tints that help establish tone successfully in various scenes.

There’s blue for night, yellow for in door shots like farms and cabins, and purple and pink for scenes involving the royalty and higher class characters. Nigel De Brulier does a damn fine job as Richelieu establishing himself as a slimy villain who often doesn’t need camera tricks to make him absolutely menacing. What may detract from the inherent fun is the abundance of narrative that outweighs the action. For a movie that’s two hours, the action scenes, while eye catching, also aren’t as frequently featured as they should be, which is a shame since Fairbanks steals every scene he inhabits. That said “The Three Musketeers” is one of the essentials in what is pretty much a sub-genre by now, and it’s a hefty lesson in one of American cinema’s first action movie stars. Whether it’s 1921 or 2017, Fairbanks’ stunts are still one of a kind, and the man is in a league all his own.