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Il Colpo Segreto di d'Artagnan

The Secret Mark of d'Artagnan
Le Secret de d'Artagnan / Das Zeichen der Musketiere

Italy/France 1962
produced by
Ottavio Poggi for Liber Film, Les Films Agiman
directed by Siro Marcellini
starring George Nader, Alessandra Panaro, Magali Noel, Georges Marchal, Mario Petri, Massimo Serato, Franco Fantasia, Raf Baldassarre, Giulio Marchetti, Andrea Fantasia, Romano Giomini, Piero Pastore
written by Milton Krims, Siro Marcellini, Ottavio Poggi, based on characters created by Alexandre Dumas père, music by Carlo Rustichelli

Three Musketeers

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Cardinal Richelieu (Massimo Serato) has summoned Musketeer d'Artagnan (George Nader) to help him save the King from a coup by his own mother and brother, both of whom have fleed to Holland. D'Artagnan teams up with his old friend and fellow Musketeer Porthos (Mario Petri), and together the two infiltrate the meeting of the conspirators, and soon manage to identify the Duke of Montserrat (Georges Marchal) as their head ... but they are found out in the process, and in the fight that ensues, d'Artagnan is wounded but saved by Diana (Alessandra Panaro), niece of Montserrat, who hides him because she hates her uncle, and she and her maid Carlotta (Magali Noel) nurse him back to health ... oh, and of course, d'Artagnan falls in love with Diana before long and Porthos with Carlotta.

Montserrat needs Diana though as he needs her inheritance to finance the revolt, especially after d'Artagnan and Porthos have intercepted one of his messengers to Holland who was to deliver a handy sum, enough to start a war, to the King's enemies. And d'Artagnan has not only handed him over to the King's men but also marked him a traiter by carving an "X" into his forehead, a secret mark that's to tell Richelieu and the King who's a traitor at face value.

Of course, Montserrat eventually manages to torture her fortune out of Diana by breaking pretty much every body in her hand, but by that time, d'Artagnan has fortunately found out where the conspirators might meet - it's Diana's childhood home - and has found out about all the secret passageways the mansion is equipped with, and thus has the place overrun by his Musketeers while the meeting's in place. A big fight ensues of course, at the climax of which Montserrat takes his own niece hostage ... but everything ends happily of course.

 

While in the early 1960s, most Italian costume dramas were peplums (sword and sandal movies, frequently with bodybuilders in the lead), they also did the occasional swashbuckler - like this Three Musketeers-story adapted rather freely from Dumas' books (actually it's supposed to be a sequel to the original story), and bringing a simplified story to the screen compared to Dumas' world of many intrigues. Now it has to be admitted, the movie is rather charming in its simplicity, and emphasis on action over long-winded storytelling ... but then again, the action is not all that well staged, the story is too predictable for its own good, the characters are mostly uninteresting, the whole thing is not all that thought through and relies on a few too many coincidences to work stringently, and unfortunately, also the rather low budget sometimes shows. It's still at least some escapist fun - but there are better Italian swashbucklers from that period out there, believe me.

By the way, Georges Marchal, lead villain, played d'Artagnan in the 1953 film Les Trois Mousquetaires by André Hunebelle.

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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