The Three Musketeers ★★★½

It seems goofy to consider this film and its sequel as separate entities, as they were filmed simultaneously and were originally conceived as one long film. Still, it looks like that is the typical approach, so who am I to argue... In any case, Lester’s style this time out is less frantic than in his ‘60s filmmaking, yet there are telltale signs that make this unmistakably contemporary by early ‘70s standards. The film largely aims for a delicate balance between an aloof treatment of the material and real investment in it. Lester wants to give us slapstick without sacrificing swashbuckling, and if the results don’t quite work, the wobbly tone fails to disrupt what is an enjoyable romp. One questions the nudges toward parody, because it’s uncertain how seriously Dumas’ novel was meant to be taken in the first place, and while Lester’s incessant lightly ironic winks at us sometimes grow glib, the cast is generally game (Raquel Welch is in peak form) and the overall production is well-mounted.