The Three Musketeers. Part Nine – Assassin

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With a limited budget, the battle scenes we see throughout the serial have to be somewhat impressionistic.  This is demonstrated at the start of Assassin, as D’Artagnan and the Musketeers are seen defending a hill fort.  Although there’s a limited number of extras – representing both their allies and their enemies – sound effects, smoke and hand-held camera work all have to create the impression of many more.

The jumpy camera-cuts do effectively suggest the confusion of battle though, and it’s amusing that the Musketeers and D’Artagnan are cool enough to stop for a bite to eat and a discussion of their current troubles.  Milady de Winter’s mission to England spells trouble for all of them and although some of her plans (such as arranging the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham) don’t directly involve them, it’s still vital that they stop her.  A letter to Milady’s brother-in-law (who, we remember, had his life saved by D’Artagnan) should do the trick.

Presumably The Three Musketeers, like many series and serials of the time, had an allocated amount of film work per episode.  Since the previous episode had no filming at all, this may account for the more generous allocation in Assassin.  Some of it – for example, showing Milady’s arrival in England and her travels through the country –  aren’t strictly speaking vital to the plot, but they provide gloss and an expansive feeling (otherwise it would be too easy for the story to simply jump from one interior set to the next).

Milady de Winter’s reunited with her brother-in-law, but it’s not a happy meeting.  “Spy, bigamist, would-be-assassin, branded criminal. I’m sending you to our Southern colonies. In a few months the tropic sun would have burnt out that fatal beauty and sucked dry your evil mind.”  He leaves her a prisoner, guarded by young Felton (John Kelland) but Milady is easily able to manipulate this pious, worthy man.  Once again, it’s a pleasure to watch the delight on Mary Peach’s face as Milady manipulates yet another hapless victim.  She clearly has deep powers of persuasion, as not only is she able to obtain her release, she also convinces him to kill Buckingham.  A powerful lady indeed.

The scene where the Cardinal confronts D’Artagnan and the Musketeers is, like the earlier scene with Brett, Blessed, Young and Watson, shot on film.  This clever piece of scheduling meant that they weren’t required for the studio recording, therefore giving them a week off.

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