Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Tonight in Plymouth, N.H.! All for one, one for all in 'The Three Musketeers' (1921) with live music

The original 'Three Musketeers' candy bar, introduced in 1932, contained three sections of flavoured nougat: one vanilla, one chocolate, and one strawberry, hence the name. The bar went all chocolate in 1945, but the name stayed the same.

I dare say it's one of the best opening sentences of any press release I've issued:

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—Long before it became a candy bar in the concession stand, 'The Three Musketeers' was on the big screen as a swashbuckling silent film, a major hit of 1921.

You won't get that in a press release from an AI chatbot no matter how generative its intelligence. 

Yes, tonight (Wednesday, Nov. 7) brings a screening of the early Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler, with live music by me. Showtime is at 6:30 p.m.; lots more info about the film is in the press release pasted in below. 

First, a quick round-up of recent gigs.

Saturday, Nov. 4 saw my first post-pandemic appearance at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where they run silent film programs with live music every weekend all year round.

I've enjoyed helping out when I'm out there, and it was great to return and reconnect with everyone.

The evening's feature was the 1925 version of 'Raffles the Amateur Cracksman,' with actor House Peters in the title role. Yes, it's about crime, but the trick with a film like this, which at its heart is light-hearted, is to treat it very lightly.

That's what I did: mostly light cocktail/dance music, but always to underscore the action, highlight any emotional subtext (of which there was little), and keep things skipping along.

'Raffles' was preceded by two shorts: the 1912 Griffith classic 'The Musketeers of Pig Alley' (hey, there's that Musketeers theme again!) plus a Stan Laurel solo comedy. 

We were fortunate in that one person in the audience was a big and easy laugher. All it takes in one of these to help loosen up an audience, and that's what happened Saturday night in Niles. With one fearless soul leading the way, everyone else had permission to laugh.

At the Garden: owner/operator Isaac Mass unveils the venue's 2024 schedule of silent films.

Monday, Nov. 6 found me at the Garden Cinema in Greenfield, Mass. to accompany a screening of 'The Scarlet Letter' (1926), starring Lillian Gish, who also starred in the Griffith film shown at Niles.

To my surprise, 'The Scarlett Letter' drew 59 people on a Monday night. Wow! We've been doing silents in Greenfield on and off for a couple of years now, and an audience seems to be developing.

Yesterday afternoon I hauled myself down to Newport, R.I. to accompany a screening of Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' (1925) at the Jane Pickens Theater.

The film was programmed as part of the town's 'Restaurant/Foodie Week' due primarily to its famous Thanksgiving scene in which Chaplin and co-star Mack Swain consume a shoe.

In introducing the film, I got a big laugh by saying: "The film is a surprising choice for restaurant week because it was inspired in part by cannabilism."

Then, looking at two little girls sitting close by with their parents, I couldn't resist saying into the microphone: "For you young folks, that's people eating other people."

And then I recounted the story of how Chaplin was looking at images of the ill-fated Donner party, etc. 

A bonus at last night's screening was the presence of a photographer on assignment from WBUR-FM, the Boston NPR station. They're doing a piece on me that I believe will air any day now. Stay tuned!

And that brings us to tonight; 'The Three Musketeers' (1921) at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center (like the candy bar, quite a mouthful). 

Press release is below. See you at the movies. 

*    *    *

All for one and one for all: a scene from 'The Three Musketeers' (1921).

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

'Three Musketeers' with live music at Flying Monkey on Wednesday, Nov. 8

It's 'all for one and one for all' in classic silent film swashbuckler starring Douglas Fairbanks

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—Long before it became a candy bar in the concession stand, 'The Three Musketeers' was on the big screen as a swashbuckling silent film, a major hit of 1921.

And now, more than a century later, it returns: 'The Three Musketeers' (1921), starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., will be shown with live music on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 Main St., Plymouth, N.H.

The program will feature live accompaniment by silent film musician Jeff Rapsis. Admission is $10 per person.

'The Three Musketeers,' adapted from the classic Alexandre Dumas novel and directed by Fred Niblo, is a costume drama set amid palace intrigue in 17th century France.

Fairbanks plays the leading role of D'Artagnan, who after challenging musketeers Athos (Leon Barry), Porthos (George Siegmann) and Aramis (Eugene Pallette) to a duel, joins forces with them in opposition of the scheming Cardinal Richelieu (Nigel De Brulier).

Plotting to discredit Queen Anne (Mary McLaren) in the eyes of her husband King Louis XIII (Adolphe Menjou), Richelieu dispatches Milady de Winter (Barbara La Marr) to pilfer the diamond brooch given by Anne to her British lover, the Duke of Buckingham (Thomas Holding).

Marguerite de la Motte and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. in 'The Three Musketeers.'

With the help of the lovely Constance (Marguerite de la Motte), D'Artagnan and the Musketeers race against time to retrieve the brooch and save their Queen.

The athletic Douglas Fairbanks's one-handed handspring to grab a sword during a fight scene in 'The Three Musketeers' is considered as one of the great stunts of early cinema.

Critics point to 'The Three Musketeers' as a turning point in Fairbanks' career.

" 'The Three Musketeers' was the first of the grand Fairbanks costume films, filled with exemplary production values and ornamentation," wrote author Jeffrey Vance in 2008. "With 'The Three Musketeers,' he at last found his metier and crystallized his celebrity and his cinema."

Fairbanks, among the most popular stars of the 1920s, was the inspiration for the character of George Valentin in the Oscar-winning Best Picture 'The Artist' (2011). Fairbanks was known for films that used the then-new medium of motion pictures to transport audiences to historical time periods for grand adventures and athletic stunts.

He's often referred to as "Douglas Fairbanks Sr." to avoid confusion with his son, the actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

As early as it is, the Fairbanks version of 'Three Musketeers' was not the first big-screen adaptation of the classic Dumas tale. At least a half-dozen earlier versions were filmed in the U.S. and Europe. Over the years, at least 24 different adaptation of the 'Musketeer' saga have been released, attesting to the timeless popularity of Dumas' tale.

Douglas Fairbanks in 'The Three Musketeers' (1921).

Live music for 'The Three Musketeers' will be provided by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis, who uses a digital synthesizer to create a traditional full orchestra "movie score" sound.

"Seeing a Fairbanks picture in a theater with live music and an audience is a classic movie experience," Rapsis said.

Rapsis emphasized the unique value of seeing early cinema as it was originally presented.

"These films were designed for the big screen, live music, and large audiences. If you put it all together again, you get a sense of why people first fell in love with the movies," Rapsis said.

'The Three Musketeers' (1921) starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., will be screened with live music on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 Main St., Plymouth, N.H.

General admission tickets are $10 at door or in advance by calling the box office at (603) 536-2551 or online at

No comments:

Post a Comment