The Three Musketeers. Part Ten – Walk to the Scaffold

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The war is over and Milady de Winter once more vows vengeance on her enemies, especially D’Artagnan.  She’s tracked down D’Artagnan’s mistress, Madame Bonacieux, who is sheltering in a convent and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her lover.

Although she’s been absent for a few episodes, Kathleen Breck picks up where she left off (alas) by still playing Madame Bonacieux as a wide-eyed giddy schoolgirl, which makes her fate something of a mercy killing for the audience. And given her broad performance during the serial it’s no surprise that she also milks her death scene for all its worth.  You can probably guess how Brett’s D’Artagnan takes it (not very well at all).  It’s just as well that the ever pragmatic Athos is on hand to tell him that “women weep for the dead, men avenge them.”

Even in this final episode, it’s clear that Peter Hammond was attempting to push the limitations of studio shooting as far as he could (the convent set features several high camera shots, not easy to do with the sort of cameras in use during the mid sixties).

Mary Peach’s bosoms once again heave impressively as D’Artagnan and the others track her down, list her crimes and find her guilty.  Naturally enough, the sentence is death.  Her executioner (Kevin Stoney) is already known to her and it’s poetic justice that he’s the one who’s tasked to carry out the act.  Shot on film, Milady’s final scene is extravagantly played by Peach, but unlike some of the other broad performances it works well.

Although some of the playing throughout the serial isn’t subtle and Peter Hammond’s direction is rather idiosyncratic, there’s still plenty to enjoy in The Three Musketeers.  The 25 minute format means that each episode zips along and there’s plenty of familiar faces – Kevin Stoney in this episode, Pauline Collins and Milton Johns, amongst others, earlier on – who pop up in small roles.

It’ll be interesting to shortly compare this to The Further Adventures of the Musketeers, especially how the recasting (Joss Ackland for Jeremy Brett, John Woodvine for Gary Watson) blends with the returning Brian Blessed and Jeremy Young.  The additional six episodes and shared directorial duties (Christopher Barry and Hugh David) should also give the sequel a different feel.  My review can be found here.

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