The Musketeers
The latest band of Musketeers to get the world talkingBBC

Alexander Dumas' Musketeers tale has been adapted for the big and small screen countless times - to varying levels of success. Beloved thesps, future cowboys and animated dogs have all tried to give the classic swashbuckling adventure new life over the years.

The latest reworking of the classic tale comes from the BBC and it aired for the first time on Sunday, to the delight of critics. With 7.4 million viewers tuning in, it comfortably beat the returning Mr Selfridge on ITV, making the show a hit already.

How well have other big and small screen versions of the Musketeers faired though? Let's take a look.

The John Wayne serial

By no means the first film adaptation, this Three Musketeers film serial released in 1933 was one of the first to tinker with Dumas' formula.

A contemporary and modern (for the time) reimagining of the tale, the action was transported to North Africa, with the Musketeers becoming soldiers in the French Foreign Legion.

In an effort to draw in US audiences however, the character of D'Artagnan was renamed Lt Tom Wayne, a US military pilot, and was played by legendary Western actor John Wayne.

The one in glorious Technicolor

1948 saw Hollywood adapt the tale as originally told, but this time in colour for the first time. This big-budgeted adventure starred Gene Kelly as D'Artagan and Vincent Price as the villainous Cardinal Richelieu.

It was a huge success for MGM, becoming the studio's second highest grossing picture of the 1940s despite its big budget and a difficult production delayed by an injury to Gene Kelly.

The classic

The 1973 adaptation may very well be the definitive take on Dumas' story. It certainly has the star power, with Oliver Reed and Charlton Heston front and centre as Musketeer Athos and Richelieu.

A star-studded, rip-roaring adventure, this version also starred Christopher Lee, Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch and Spike Milligan.

It was a big enough hit to warrant a sequel - The Four Musketeers - released the following year, and was so good in fact that there was no big budget effort on Hollywood's part for twenty years following its release.

The cartoons

Either the lack of Hollywood Musketeers is down to the 1973 version, or it's down to the most beloved animated take on the story - Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds.

Dogtanian wasn't the only cartoon version however. The Two Mouseketeers, a Tom and Jerry cartoon made in 1952, was the first and much more recently Disney had a crack with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy as the swashbuckling leads.

Even Barbie starred in a version – a straight-to-DVD version with an all-female cast of Musketeers.

The modern take

In 1993 Disney put together a live-action version of the story, the first to feel like a true modern blockbuster.

Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Oliver Platt played the core trio, with future superhero sidekick Robin Chris O'Donnell as D'Artagan and Tim Curry on villain duty.

Unfortunately for Disney the film was savaged by critics, sitting with a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The 3D modern take

A CGI-laden 3D reworking of the story was inevitable, and in 2011 Resident Evil director Paul Anderson proved what a terrible idea that was.

Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz and Milla Jovovich were the biggest names attached to this version, with Matthew Macfadyen, Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans as the four heroes.

It was savaged even worse than the 1993 version, with's Eric Snider saying: "Every time you think it can't get any stupider, it gets right up in your face, calls you 'bro,' and gets stupider."


Auntie's most recent take on the story was not its first. Two series of half-hour episodes were made separately in 1954 and 1966. On the basis of last night's efforts the BBC has another hit on its hands with every chance of it being a classic version of Dumas' story.