The Curator of Schlock #380 by Jeff Shuster

The Man in the Iron Mask

All for one and none for me, thank you!

My Canadian Odyssey had come to an end. I helped save dozens of rabid marsupials from getting slaughtered and gave a tearful goodbye to Edwige, my kangaroo companion of the last year.

And for all my effort, what do I get? The authorities drove me to the border and told me to get out. They were too cheap to even buy me a plane ticket back to Orlando.

Over the next few months I had many adventures and misadventures hitchhiking across America. I helped solve a murder mystery on the mean streets of Cleveland and was almost abducted by aliens in Reno.

But there’s no time to talk about that. Next week, I should be arriving back in Orlando, back to my home, back to the Museum of Schlock.

This week’s movie is 1998’s The Man in the Iron Mask from director Randall Wallace. This is based on the third of the d’Artagnan Romances by Alexandre Dumas. The actual title is The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later and contains 268 chapters. I planned to read it before this review, but I don’t know French! This is a mess of a movie. Half the dialogue is the all so noble Musketeers saying, “All for one and one for all.” Don’t try playing a drinking game with this one. You’ll be blotto before the credits roll.

The movie begins with Jeremy Irons telling the tale about a mysterious prisoner that was held at the Bastille, a man in an iron mask that was never identified. Jeremy Irons plays Aramas, a former Musketeer turned Jesuit priest. This story takes place many years after the events of The Three Musketeers. Porthos (Gérard Depardieu) is still boozing and wenching. Athos (John Malkovich) is retired and has a son, Raoul (Peter Sarsgaard). And D’Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) now serves King Louis XIV.

King Louis XIV is played by Leonardo DiCaprio and I can’t help, but if memory serves,  this movie was shelved and released right after Titanic became such a sensation. Louis is a bad king. The people of France are starving. His advisors tell him to release the food reserves held for the army, but Louis only allows the spoiled rations to be distributed. Louis also fancies the girlfriend of Athos’s son so he sends him off to the front lines to get blasted by a cannon.

Louis is becoming increasingly paranoid about mumblings about a conspiracy within the Jesuits to dethrone him. He asks Aramas to discover the man leading this conspiracy and execute him. Naturally, Aramas is the man leading the conspiracy to dethrone the king. It would seem that King Louis has an identical twin brother that he’s imprisoned at the Bastille. All Aramas, Porthos, and Athos have to do is switch them.

And wouldn’t you know it, the King’s twin brother, Philippe, is just as nice and thoughtful as can be, the polar opposite of Louis. He’ll make a better king for sure. Too bad, D’Artagnan, is wise to this plan and uncovers the imposter king. Why is D’Artagnan so loyal to the awful King Louis XIV

Because Louis is his son. We have to surmise he had an affair with the Queen behind the previous king’s back. And D’Artagnan doesn’t know about Phillippe is also his son because the Queen kept his existence a secret. Well, first she was told Phillip had been stillborn, but learned of his existence after the former king died.  And I expect the former king had no idea that his sons were really D’Artagnan’s. Have you lost the plot yet? I have. Don’t worry. There is plenty of righteous valor to make you ignore this nonsense. And you get to see Gérard Depardieu run naked into a barn so it’s not a complete waste of time.


Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.