The 5th Musketeer (1977) from ICMS

The story takes place in France in the 17th century at the royal court in Versailles. King Louis is set to marry a Spanish princess, Maria Theresa (Sylvia Kristel), but it is obvious that he prefers the company of his mistress, Louise de la Vallière (Ursula Andress).  As it happens the king has a much nicer twin brother, Philippe, who was kept hidden somewhere in the French Southwest and who is ignorant of his descent, as is practically everyone except the four musketeers. This twin brother turns out to be the aforementioned fifth musketeer. The king's advisors set up a plan designed to get rid of this possible threat to the throne while making the king more popular in the process. Needless to say, their plan backfires and a battle for the crown ensues with each leading lady helping her favorite twin. The good twin can also can count on his four aging musketeers, but they don't achieve that much because they're getting too old for this kind of shenanigans.
The 5th Musketeer doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and perhaps that's why it is not a bad watch that I actually did enjoy. The credits for that go on the one hand to the actors, who all believed in what they were doing and put in solid performances (except Sylvia Kristel, if you consider her an actress) and on the other hand to the beautiful locations and the exquisite costumes. In the end, however, one concludes that the film itself could have turned out much better than it is. The feeling remains that with an all star cast like Beau Bridges, Ursula Andress, Ian McShane, José Ferrer, Rex Harrison and Olivia de Havilland; and with some of the most beautiful castles around Vienna, including Schönbrunn; director Ken Annakin somewhat underachieved in this one.  If the story had been better outlined from the start with some plot twists here and there, many of the problems would have been resolved. Some more creative editing mightn't have gone astray either.
The biggest mystery of The 5th Musketeer is the DVD. The only commercial DVD available is a Region One disk. It is a beautiful transfer, remastered in HD and edited by Sony Pictures. There is only one problem with it, but that is a very large one. They opted to produce the  PG-rated version (104 minutes) instead of the uncut version which is shown on German TV (116 minutes). In producing the shorter version, the editor not only removed all of the beautiful nudity, but also eliminated several other scenes in whole or part.  (I watched both versions together.) I still have no clue why they spent so much money on remastering the incomplete version instead of the original edit. Obviously someone must have thought that this movie needed some speeding up, which it doesn't. To me it goes without saying that those missing scenes should have stayed in. Not only do they provide extra information on what's happening, they also add flavor to the time period and the locations.

What is even sillier is that PG version, which retains none of the nudity, contains all the violence and profanity. Someone out there must think it is more harmful to see Ursula Andress and Sylvia Kristel naked in their prime than to see people getting killed or to hear a woman being called a bitch and a whore. Strange thing, certainly in my opinion.

So my advice is to stay away from this Region 1 DVD and wait until there is an unrated full-length print available on DVD.


  • NOT recommended. This is not the entire film, and contains none of the nudity mentioned below. See the main commentary for details.



Ursula Andress - all possible body parts.

Sylvia Kristel - breasts

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C for the full-length version. Pleasant, but unmemorable. Avoid the expurgated version.

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