(1939)4Craig ButlerThe Ritz Brothers, Al, Jimmy and Harry (whom Mel Brooks once called the "funniest man in the world"), are all but forgotten, but they were consummate clowns whose career spanned nightclubs, vaudeville, Broadway and the movies. This lavish-looking 1939 musical adaptation of Dumas' swashbuckling classic is their finest hour on screen. The trio does not portray Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Instead, they are innkeeper lackeys who impersonate the musketeers and become embroiled in palace intrigue with the unwitting D'Artagnan (Don Ameche), who believes them to be the real thing. The songs are forgettable, but the comic set pieces hold up well. Anticipating Bob Hope in his best vehicle, Monsieur Beaucaire, the film takes great sport in putting these decidedly cowardly ("No, we don't want to fight" is their response to a call to duel) and unchivalrous stooges in the thick of Dumas' story. In one memorable scene, the villainess Lady DeWinter (a game Binnie Barnes) literally gets shaken down by the boys as they seek to retrieve an incriminating letter from her bodice. Royally entertaining, this treasure from the golden age of the studio system will delight old school comedy buffs eager to be puttin' on the Ritzes.
Allan Dwan's comedic musical adaptation of the classic Dumas story sticks close to the original tale, yet it augments it with healthy doses of humor and songs. Don Ameche stars as D'Artagnan and the Ritz Brothers play his two other musketeers.