The Four Musketeers ★★★½

This immediate sequel to Lester’s The Three Musketeers simply continues the story that’s come before (the two films were initially intended to be released as one), yet the stakes are raised a bit. Overall, this film is slightly darker, with less emphasis on physical comedy and more on establishing characters that were somewhat sketchy in the earlier chapter. Lester’s light touch extends to these tentative stabs at depth, and some of them are genuinely moving. The sequence showing Milady’s back story, for example, humanizes the villain and strikes a sad tone that points forward toward Lester’s later work on Robin and Marian. Indeed, as much as Welch stole the first film, this one belongs to Dunaway, who makes for an imperious, memorable bad guy (“I reek of England and Calvinism!”) against even the likes of Christopher Lee.