Three members of the French Foreign Legion are the only survivors in an attack by Arabs somewhere in the Arabian Desert. Tom Wayne, an American pilot, comes to the rescue of Clancy, Renard and Schmidt, and they dub themselves "The Three Musketeers" and Tom their "D'Artagnan." But the three friends must soon help Tom prove his innocence when he is framed for the death of a friend and try to uncover the identity of a mysterious masked man known as El Shaitan.
American aviator Tom Wayne (John Wayne)and his co-pilot, Stubbs (Noah Beery Jr.)are flying over an African desert when they see trouble below...Arab bandits are attacking three troopers of the French Foreign Legion. Using the machine gun mounted on his airplane, Wayne quickly stops the Arab attack. The rescued Legionaires---Clancy (Jack Mulhall), Renard (Raymond Hatton) and Dutch Schmidt (Francis X. Bushman Jr.)introduce themselves as "The Three Musketeers." They inform Wayne that the attackers were followers of "The Devil's Circle," a fanatic cult out to destroy the Foreign Legion by gun-running and insurrection. The cult's leader is El Shaitan, a masked man whose real identity is known to none. Wayne is drawn into the fight through the encouragement of his new friends, and a call for help from an old friend, Armand Corday (Lon Chaney Jr.), who has been duped into The Devil's Circle, but is trying to break away. But Armand, is killed by an assassin before he can tell what he knows about the cult. Stubbs is also killed. Helped by the Musketeers and Armand's sister, Elaine (Ruth Hall)), Wayne sets out to smash the cult.
"The Three Musketeers" was the third and final serial made by John Wayne for producer Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures. Oddly enough for Wayne, who made mostly westerns during this period, none of the three serials are westerns. In fact, in all three, he plays a pilot.
The story takes place somewhere in an Arab country where three members of the French Foreign Legion are the only survivors of an attack by Arabs. The three, Clancy (Jack Mulhall), Renard (Raymond Hatton) ans Schmidt (Francis X. Bushman Jr.) are rescued from certain death by Tom Wayne (John Wayne), an American pilot. The three legionnaires dub themselves "The Three Musketeers" (you know: "One for all, and all for one") and Wayne their "D'Artagnan.
A mysterious masked figure known as El Shaitan plots a rebellion against the Legion. Wayne is framed for the murder of his friend Armand Corday (Creighton Chaney) and spends the rest of the story trying to prove his innocence while at the same time attempting to learn the identity of El Shaitan.
Wayne is aided by the Musketeers and Corday's sister Elaine (Ruth Hall). There are of course several suspected "El Shaitans" over the course of the 12 chapters. Among the suspects are Col. Duval (Gordon De Main), the company commander, El Kador (Hooper Atchely) and others. Of course we don't learn the identity of the villain until the last chapter.
As in most of the Mascot serials, there is plenty of action, perilous situations and lots of racing around. I found that this serial had far too many flashback sequences and predictable situations. In its favor, it had Yakima Canutt doing most of the stunts and (shudder) even taking a small speaking part. Look closely for Kermit Maynard and I'm sure I saw Wally Wales (aka Hal Taliaferro) as other legionaires. Noah Beery Jr. appears briefly as Wayne's pal Stubbs.
Creigton Chaney is of course better known as Lon Chaney Jr. a name he would adopt in 1935 and use for the rest of his 40 year career. For John Wayne, he would soon move on to his Lone Star western series and would not appear in another serial. Alas, this is more interesting than enjoyable.
The script is rather muddled, and, despite a high-quality cast, the acting is ... well, to be polite, lacking.
Some of those good ol' country boys just do not make very convincing Arabs. (But they sure are good cowboys.)
John Wayne is today usually billed as the star, but he was listed fourth in the credits and was still relatively new in Hollywood at the time of the release. Even then he was showing the charm that would make him a star.
A tighter script and better directing should have made this a classic serial, but they are missing.
Still, this is one to see if only for the historical value.
Let me warn you: The DVD sold by the apparently dishonest and dishonorable Digiview company is more advertising for the company's other wares than a good presentation of this serial. There are only four of the 12 chapters, and I think the company is guilty of theft and fraud.
The picture seems to be ninth or tenth generation, and the sound is equally bad.
I urge everyone not to buy any product from Digiview.
(((This is an added note: After reading my comments here, a person wrote me that Digiview usually provides a buyer with value for the money. I was told "The Three Musketeers" is not typical fare from the company. I will leave my comment, above, but am happy to make this notation that Digiview, http://www.digiviewus.com, apparently is a company to buy from.)))
This is a long overdue update: Digiview does indeed include the complete serial. All the chapters are there. They are there in TWO DISCS, but the jerky retailer from whom I bought my copy had only the first disc. Quite by accident, from another jerky retailer, I found the second disc, so I now have the complete serial.
I hope readers and Digiview will accept my apology and my correction. 646f9e108c
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