The Return of the Musketeers

The Return of the Musketeers

Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Michelle de Broca
Pierre Spengler
Written by G. MacDonald Fraser
Based on Twenty Years After
by Alexandre Dumas
Starring Michael York
Oliver Reed
Music by Jean-Claude Petit
Cinematography Bernard Lutic
Edited by John Victor Smith
Distributed by Entertainment (UK)
Universal (U.S.)
Release dates
  • 19 April 1989 (1989-04-19)
Running time
102 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Return of the Musketeers is a 1989 film adaptation loosely based on the novel Twenty Years After (1845) by Alexandre Dumas. It is the third Musketeers film directed by Richard Lester, following 1973's The Three Musketeers and 1974's The Four Musketeers. Like the other two films, the screenplay was written by George MacDonald Fraser.

The character of Mordaunt, Milady de Winter's son in the original novel, is replaced by Milady's daughter, called Justine de Winter.

Several cast members from the first two reprised their roles in this one. Jean-Pierre Cassel, who played Louis XIII in the original films, has a cameo appearance as Cyrano de Bergerac.

While filming was taking place in September 1988, character actor Roy Kinnear died following an on-camera accident in which he fell off a horse. His role was completed by using a stand-in, filmed from the rear, and dubbed-in lines from a voice artist.

Plot summary

Twenty years after the events of The Four Musketeers, Cardinal Mazarin has imprisoned the Duke of Beaufort. Mazarin hires d'Artagnan to bring together Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, to work for him. Porthos accepts, but Athos and Aramis decline. By this time, Athos has a son named Raoul.

Milady de Winter's daughter, Justine, questions the headsman that the musketeers hired to kill her mother. After finding out from the headsman that "Comte de la Fere" hired him, she kills the headsman. Raoul happens upon the aftermath of this event and chases after Justine, who is disguised as a priest. After a swordfight, when he discovers who she really is and her plan, Raoul leaves and tells d'Artagnan, Porthos, and Athos that Justine wants to kill them.

Comte de Rochefort helps Beaufort escape from his prison, and he is subsequently arrested by Mazarin. Mazarin sends d'Artagnan and Porthos after Beaufort, but Beaufort escapes them due to interference from Athos and Aramis, who are working for Beaufort. This starts a fight amongst the Musketeers, in which d'Artagnan slices Aramis' hand. Aramis breaks his sword and rides away. d'Artagnan and Porthos are fired by Mazarin for not catching Beaufort.

Rochefort goes into hiding until he finds Justine, and tells her the names of d'Artagnan, Porthos, and Aramis, revealing to her that "Comte de la Fere" is Athos.

King Charles I of England is to be executed, so Queen Anne of Austria sends d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Raoul to rescue him. They attempt a rescue by knocking out the headsman, but Justine takes his place and executes Charles.

The musketeers have several encounters with Justine: in one, Raoul's true allegiance is revealed to her; in another, Justine and Rochefort attempt to kill the Musketeers by blowing up their ship (the musketeers escape and Rochefort is killed).

Justine attempts to kill King Louis XIV, but is stopped by the Musketeers, and their battle concludes with Justine jumping out of the window into the water. Aramis rejoins the musketeers, and they force Mazarin to sign several forms in favour of them, including making Porthos a baron, Aramis a bishop, and Raoul commissioned in the Guards. The film ends with the Musketeers riding together again.



The film was shot in Spain.

Roy Kinnear was accidentally killed during production. The Spanish crew misunderstood the instructions of director Lester and washed down the cobblestone street prior to filming, making the stones wet. When Kinnear and other cast members rode into the shot on horses and stopped, Kinnear's horse slipped, and Kinnear fell off, breaking his pelvis. He died of a heart attack while receiving treatment at a hospital in Spain following the accident.[1]


Completed in 1988, The Return of the Musketeers was released for cinemas in the European market in April of 1989, and while it was given positive reviews by the critics, it was not well received at the box office. It was released on video in the spring of 1990. The film was acquired by Universal for U.S. theatrical release, but given its lackluster European box office, the studio chose instead to give the film its U.S. debut on cable television's USA Network (which was part owned by the studio) two years later, on 3 April 1991.[2]


The Return of the Musketeers received mixed reviews: the online review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently rates it at 60%, based on 5 reviews.

See also


  1. George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p12-16
  2. Burlingame, Jon (3 April 1991). "Tune in Tonight: It's CBS's turn to honor the troops". Ocala Star-Banner. The New York Times Company. p. 9C. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
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