The last of Douglas Fairbanks' true swashbuckling adventures, THE IRON MASK is something of a sequel to his phenomenally popular THE THREE MUSKETEERS and reunites many of the original cast members. As the film opens, the wife of King Louis XIII gives birth to twins. Cardinal Richelieu (de
Brulier) learns of the two births, seizes one of the infants, and takes him to Spain in order to safeguard the throne. The evil Haupt, who has designs on the kingdom, kidnaps de la Motte, a seamstress who witnessed the births, and holds her captive lest she reveal what she has seen. When
Fairbanks, as D'Artagnan, tries to rescue de la Motte, she is killed, leaving the hero bitter and lusting for revenge against Haupt. Years later, he gets his chance when Haupt attempts to usurp the throne of France, and Fairbanks joins with companions Athos (Bary), Porthos (Sandford), and Aramis
(Corrado) to foil the plan.
THE IRON MASK is basically a silent film with sparse passages of dialog spliced in for added box-office appeal. Veteran helmsman Dwan, who directed Fairbanks in ROBIN HOOD (1922), simply added a spoken prolog and epilog to appease the studio. The first sound sequence opens with Fairbanks asking
the audience to join him in those swashbuckling days of yesteryear and the second vocal is similar to the first. The rest of the film is silent, with music and sound effects synchronized with the visuals. Unfortunately, this would be the last time audiences were treated to Fairbanks' athletic
derring-do. His subsequent films (THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, REACHING FOR THE MOON, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 MINUTES, MR. ROBINSON CRUSOE, and THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN) required little in the way of physical prowess and their stories lacked the excitement of his best work. The film earned a single
Oscar nomination for Best Interior Decoration. Remade as THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The last of Douglas Fairbanks' true swashbuckling adventures, THE IRON MASK is something of a sequel to his phenomenally popular THE THREE MUSKETEERS and reunites many of the original cast members. As the film opens, the wife of King Louis XIII gives birth… (more)