So for no particular reason today I had a hankering to see a good movie adaptation of Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo but there was no conclusive result to my initial searches of the intarwebs. As I searched I began to see much discussion of the broader sub-genre so I thought I would toss the topic out here:
What are some good/recommended/noteworthy movies in the historical/swashbuckling and/or Dumas-adaptation categories?
There have been many but honestly a lot of them look like duds. But there have to be some great ones, right?
I thought the 2002 one was pretty decent. It’s been a long, long time since I watched the 1975 version — I remember liking it, but I might have been pretty young when I watched it — maybe early to mid-teens — so I can’t really say how well it would hold up.
Rotten Tomatoes has the 2002 version with a 73% critic score and 88% audience score. 1975 version has no critic score and a 77% audience score. So I’d say go with the 2002 version.
Yeah, I always watch them both (The Three and Four Musketeers) like they are one long movie, because that’s what the “two” really are. Great cast, direction and acting. They really stay true to the novels, and the humor is first rate. Special points for the scene where Christopher Lee as Rocheford (perfect casting) captures Spike Millligan as M. Bonacieux. And this masterpiece.
That’s fair. @Sharpe They are both flawed. The 1975 entry is a Telvision Movie where Chamberlain was riding off his “Dumas bankability” (huh?) in the Three Musketeers films. It’s faithful, and pretty good, but kinda meh. He also did a better turn in The Man in The Iron Mask which has Patrick McGoohan. Both are inferior to those Musketeer films.
Now the 2002 entry has much better production values, but just isn’t that good either; a lot lot of shouting as emotion angsty leftover 90s angsty young actor stuff.
The old versions in B&W are all flawed because, well, they skimp on and change the plot which is what makes the book so engaging and charming. I’d argue that the definitive Count of Monte Cristo film has never been made, sadly.
Lots of great suggestions. I love both the movies from the Errol Flynn classic era and a lot of the remakes.
Another one I’d put on the list is The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) with Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne, and Leonardo DiCaprio straight out of his star making Titanic turn.
Also an adjacent, but not historic, genre you might want to watch if you aren’t already familiar with them is the Sword and Sandals genre. I love Jason and the Argonauts (1963) with Ray Harryhausen’s classic stop motion animation.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) - Haha. Just kidding. It’s a terrible horror-adjacent action/comedy thing. It is set in 18th-century France, and it is based on a real set of killings/animal attacks that became legend, but it’s not at all like any of the above films.
I agree with this, and also that it’s definitely the best version of the Three Musketeers put to film. But as a huge fan of Dumas’ original story I don’t feel that they got the characters of the Musketeers quite right, though I suppose most would say that’s just bound to happen cutting a novel down to a 2 hour feature. And I’m not totally sold on Charlton Heston as Cardinal Richelieu either. But I really loved Michael York, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee so I can live with that.
“3 Hour 20 minute feature that then gets cut in two and creates a new SAG clause to keep actors from getting ripped off by getting paid for one film when the producers turn it into two” but I agree. Its a 675 page book. Feature length films will struggle with that, especially with Dumas’ plot style with all the twists and turns.
I hear that about Heston and Chamberlain, but no one else nailed those parts in film history. They are the best representations I’ve ever seen on screen.
Don’t forget Faye Dunaway and Raquel Welch! Milady has never been colder. Really excellent cast, when you think about it.
I agree with your picking the nits though, man. I think the new streaming format of a 10 hour season that’s basically a long film is probably the best format to get all Dumas’ stuff on screen. The books are plot heavy, and introduce many, many important characters so they are very hard to film and do justice too. A longer format in “episodes” might really work for them. Just keep the “Picard” producers away. :)
Another thing I’d like this hypothetical 10 hour production to have: actual French actors! I used to think the Harry Potter movies were a bit silly on insisting on English actors for all the parts but there is an authenticity they provide, a certain gravity they’d otherwise lack. I don’t know who these French actors would be but I like the thought of it.