Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Living for the Sword

The next film to have a pretty important impact on me was Richard Lester's rollicking version of The Three Musketeers. Something about the grandeur, humor and camaraderie of the story took hold of me and I fell head over heels in love with the film. Though I adored practically everyone in it, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway were my favorites.

Somehow, I obtained a copy of the novel - a movie tie-in version which was abridged. At age six, I was in no way prepared to digest even the truncated work of Alexandre Dumas in the way it was presented in the book, but there were pictures inside and, most importantly, the cover showed all of the main actors with their names and who they played. This led to an absolute fetish of mine in that I cannot resist a film that has an all-star cast and especially love movie ads/posters that put all their faces in small boxes or otherwise feature the stars' mugs. (Think Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile.)

I may not have been able to read the novel but I made sure I knew EVERY name on that cover. This, again, being the days before VCRs or even any channels besides the big three and maybe a UHF or two, it was next to impossible to see the film itself again. I was also horribly deflated when later, on a trip to visit family in Florida, my (step) uncle Charlie refused to take me to see the sequel The Four Musketeers and we went to some other, forgettable flick. Eventually, I did get to see the sequel and it solidified my passion for Faye Dunaway. Ever since that movie, I have been in her spell, even if the spell has faltered or dissipated at times!

As I said, I could barely read, but I knew that name. Cut to the day in 1974 that my mother started to take me to the movies and insisted that we see a film I had no interest in. I whined and squirmed and was a genuine brat as she dragged me in and sat me down. Then the movie started and it was already boring to me. A helicopter flying around a bunch of scenery... Then I looked up and there on the screen was that NAME! Faye Dunaway! Believe it or not, I had no clue that actors ever played in more than one film! Ha! My young mind didn't realize that actors worked in a film and then could come back, altogether different, in another one! From that moment on, I didn't move. I sat there totally fixated on The Towering Inferno. Imagine my delight when Richard Chamberlain's name appeared as well! He was no longer the nice, helpful Aramis of The Three Musketeers, but Faye was also the opposite of the ice cold Milady de Winter. Here, she was a thoughtful, loving, serene goddess who blew my mind for all time. (Yes, I know what you're thinking... She was playing a girlfriend in a disaster movie and had hardly any screen time or dialogue. Well, believe me, when you adore someone as I did her, you are grateful to see them do anything!)

It's not possible to fully convey the impact of seeing Faye Dunaway up there floating around The Promenade Room in what was, to me, the dress to end them all. Every time she moved or the wind blew, I was out of my mind. (At 7!) There will be more to come at a future date about Faye's dress.

These strong early movie impressions: all star casts, chiffon, disaster sequences and glamour would forge for me a set of preferences that would dominate my movie viewing habits for the rest of my life.

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