Somewhere in Africa: A squad of the Foreign Legion is about to be
erradicated by gunrunners when American pilot Tom Wayne (John Wayne) in
his airplane comes to their unexpected rescue. The last three survivors of
the squad - Clancy (Jack Mulhall), Renard (Raymond Hatton) and Schmidt
(Francis X Bushman jr) decide to name themselves the Three Musketeers
and they make Tom their D'Artagnan - and they all promise to help each
other whenever they can ... and soon enough, Tom needs a lot of help since
a masked and evil Arab warlord, El Shaytan - who is behind all the
gunrunning in the region and who plans an Arab uprising to erradicate the
Foreign Legion - has decided to wipe out Tom.
First, he has Tom accused for gunrunning - and not only that, but by
Armand Corday (Lon Chaney jr)Tom's best friend and the brother of his
sweetheart Elaine (Ruth Hall) too -, then El Shaytan kills Armand Corday
and puts the blame on Tom - and the evidence he has fabricated is
believable enough that even Elaine falls for it - temporarily ...
Ultimately, Tom finds himself between all stools, the Foreign Legion
wants to arrest him for the murder of Armand, the American embassy wants
to get hold of him for gunrunning, and El Shaytan and his Devil's
Circle simply want to kill him - and only the three Musketeers are
there to help him (and curiously enough, when Tom is arrested by the
Legion, the Musketeers are always appointed to be his guards, even thouzgh
they let him escape every time), and eventually, Elaine joins them
when she finds evidence that Tom has not killed her brother ...
After many shoot-outs, fistfights, after chases to and fro by horse and
aeroplane, Tom can not only clear himself, he has also come up with a
handful of suspects to be El Shaytan, including Major Booth (Robert
Frazer) of the US-embassy, Ali (Al Ferguson), Elaine's not so loyal
servant, El Kadur (Hooper Atchley), an Arab leader, and even Colonel Duval
(Gordon De Main), commander of the Foreign Legion - but as usual with Mascot-mysteries,
in the end, El Shaytan proves to be someone completely different, Ratkin
(Edward Peil sr), a seemingly harmless and peaceful trader. And of course,
Wayne and the Musketeers manage to capture him and brind him to justice
before Wayne is off to his honeymoon with Elaine ...
As usual with Mascot-serials, the plot as such - the typical
over-convoluted murder mystery - doesn't make all that much sense ... but
as usual with Mascot-serials, this doesn't really matter all that
much, since the serial is fast-paced and packed with action and stunts
that soon let one forgetthe actual narrative. So of course, if you like
your murder mysteries with coherent and logical plots, you will no doubt
hate The Three Musketeers, but if you just want a good ride with
competently staged action and the usual pulp mainstays (like masked
villains, hidden passageways and secret societies) you might find the
serial right up your alley, it's your decision.
By the way, the whole serial has only very little/almost nothing to do
with Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers.
Another interesting detail: John Wayne, who is doubtlessly the lead of
the serial is only billed fourth in the serial's credits, after - of
course - the three Musketeers, while Lon Chaney jr (as Creighton Chaney)
is billed sixth in the credits of each and every episode, even though he
appears only in episode one (of 12) ... and episode 10, in several scenes
that are repeated from episode one.