The Fifth Musketeer

The Fifth Musketeer is a 1979 German-Austrian film adaptation of the last section of the novel The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père, which is itself based on the French legend of the Man in the Iron Mask. It was released in Europe with the alternative title Behind the Iron Mask.

The Fifth Musketeer
Promotional film poster
Directed byKen Annakin
Produced byTed Richmond
Written byDavid Ambrose
George Bruce
Based onnovel The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père
StarringSylvia Kristel
Ursula Andress
Beau Bridges
Cornel Wilde
Ian McShane
Alan Hale Jr.
Lloyd Bridges
Music byRiz Ortolani
Edited byMalcolm Cooke
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 6 April 1979 (1979-04-06)
Running time
104 min (US)
116 min (UK)
Budget$7 million[1]

It was directed by Ken Annakin, and stars Beau Bridges as the twins (Louis XIV and Philippe of Gascony), Sylvia Kristel as Maria Theresa, Ursula Andress as Louise de La Vallière, Cornel Wilde as d'Artagnan, Ian McShane as Fouquet, Rex Harrison as Colbert (Philippe's tutor), and Lloyd Bridges, José Ferrer and Alan Hale Jr. as the Three Musketeers.

Olivia de Havilland made her final theatrical film role in a cameo appearance as the Queen Mother.



Filming took place in September 1976 under the title Behind the Iron Mask to avoid confusion with a TV movie version called The Man in the Iron Mask.[2][3]

The film was shot in and around Vienna, Austria at locations including Schönbrunn Palace, Auersperg Palace, Votive Church, Liechtenstein Castle and Kreuzenstein Castle.[1] Sylvia Kristel's lines were reportedly dubbed in by another actress.[4] She was paid $300,000.[5]

The cinematographer was Jack Cardiff.

In what may have been an instance of stunt casting, Alan Hale Jr. played the same character, Porthos, that his lookalike father, Alan Hale Sr., did in 1939's The Man in the Iron Mask.

This film was rated PG on release.


The film was not released for a number of years. It was felt this was due in part in the financial failure of another movie made by the Austrian production company, Sacha-Wien Films, A Little Night Music. It was also due to the fact that The Man in the Iron Mask had aired on television.[6]

Eventually the film's title was changed to The Fifth Musketeer although the final movie had no affiliation with the hit Richard Lester films The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers other than their all being based on Dumas stories, the title was chosen to capitalize on the recent success of those films and inform audiences that it was the same characters involved in the plot.[1][4]



Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "Though 'The Fifth Musketeer' is loaded with intrigue, duels, large scale swordplay, heavy costumes and heavier décor, it is singularly without style or even excitement. In the center of it, Mr. Bridges the younger seems bewildered in the manner of someone unsure of his real identity."[7]

Dale Pollock of Variety stated that the film "adds nothing new to the genre, deriving its inspiration totally from the 1939 United Artists release written by George Bruce, who is credited here along with Dumas," adding that director Ken Annakin "stifles 'The 5th Musketeer' with ornate production values, deadly earnest swordplay and dialog as moth-eaten as the peasant costumes. The result? Yawnsville."[8]

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "one of those big, one-star-from-every-country productions. Such films invariably are badly directed... Director Ken Annakin is obliged to give every one of his stars a decent amount of screen time, and the result is a film that moves in fits and starts."[9]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "There are some nice moments along the way from a largely nostalgic cast and some reasonably sumptuous settings, with the Schoenbrunn Palace standing in for Versailles. However, since Ken Annakin's direction and David Ambrose's script are uninspired, 'The Fifth Musketeer' tends to be plodding."[10]

Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail asked, "How does a movie this bad ever get made? ... actors recite their lines in a dull monotone and the direction is absolutely wooden; the reaction shots are so studied that one can almost hear the director counting out. Indeed, everyone's timing is way off, as if the whole picture were made in some Quaalude-induced stupor."[11]


  1. ^ a b c "The 5th Musketeer - History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  2. ^ Redford Tackles Producer Role Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 18 Sep 1976: a5.
  3. ^ Dictator Made the Final Cuts Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 2 Oct 1976: b7.
  4. ^ a b "The Fifth Musketeer". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  5. ^ Conjuring Up a Career Boost Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]13 June 1978: f17.
  6. ^ Noncoming Attractions: MISSING MOVIES Thomas, Bob. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]07 July 1978: h16.
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 8, 1979). "Film: Dumas Is Revived In 'The Fifth Musketeer'". The New York Times. 12.
  8. ^ Pollock, Dale (April 11, 1979). "Film Reviews: The 5th Musketeer". Variety. 21.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene (May 8, 1979). "'Fifth Musketeer' rarely buckles down, but you'll love the swash". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 9.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (April 6, 1979). "'Fifth Musketeer' a Swashboiler". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 25.
  11. ^ Groen, Rick (May 14, 1979). "The 5th Musketeer displays fading galaxy of dwarf stars". The Globe and Mail. 16.

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