The Mark of Zorro Reviews
The story was better than I expected as well. It seemed like it was going to be very straightforward and predictable. However there were some elements that surprised me and kept me fully invested. I particularly liked the clever way they had Zorro hide his identity when the mask was off. It was both humorous and very smart.
Tyrone Power was a great actor for Zorro and he had a tough role to play. He basically had to pull off two parts and he got both right. The villains were also delightfully bad. Montagu Love was the comedic, bumbling guy and that was hilarious. Basil Rathbone is his more serious counterpart, which I was delighted to see. Rathbone can do the acting and match the hero in any sword fight.
The Mark of Zorro is predictable at times, but I kind of anticipated that, considering it's a fairly traditional hero origin movie. It's hard to complain, though, when you're having such a good time. It has so many earmarks of a truly great film. Between the action, humor, romance, and more I was left wanting nothing. I'll gladly watch this movie again soon.
Long before there was Batman there is a protector of the common man dressed entirely in black complete with a mask and cape to be authorities he was a vigilante but to people he was a savior; Zorro, the Fox. As far back as his appearance in pulp magazines in 1919 there's been numerous combinations of this dashing hero throughout the years. Like any source of entertainment that utilizes unchanging fundamental human emotions, the Legend of Zorro deserves to be reinterpreted every generation or so. In 1940 movie on the consideration here, it presented three box office magnets talent and appeal were universal; Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone and for the leading lady, Linda Darnell, one of the first Latina actresses make significant crossovers into mainstream movies.
Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power), is a handsome young man from an exceptionally wealthy and powerful family where really cared only for a good time sporting the latest fashion. Sent to Spain by his father, Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), a wealthy ranchero and former magistrate for the community. After arriving back in California Diego cannot help but notice the deplorable treatment inflicted upon the native people and common Spaniards. Succeeding his father as Alcade is the cruel and corrupt Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), who illegally and immorally pushed his father out that position of power and authority. During his training back in Spain, Diego rose to be recognized as the best swordsman in the country. It's most sons of wealthy means return from Spain as pampered playboys most would consider Diego would follow the same pattern. He had something in mind to help the common man and if possible restore his father to the authority that he wielded with mercy and kindness. At night he would assume the persona or mysterious man in black would initiate guerrilla type rates against Quintero and his military forces. Because of his spots like wit and ingenuity he was stopped, 'Zorro'. He embraced the moniker would leave a Z slashed into board or fabric with the lightning flick of his sword. It becomes a champion of justice beloved among the common people yet feared among the troops.
In his normal guys as Diego he maintains his cover by romancing the beautiful and na´ve daughter of the current Alcalde, Lolita (Linda Darnell). Despite not wanting emotional attachments that could deter him from his mission, Diego begins to fall in love with Lolita. Keenly aware that his talents are not restricted to his swordsmanship, Diego is good looks and debonair personality to work with Don Quintero's wife, Inez (Gale Sondergaard). Because of the stories of Madrid and how it is sent to all civilized people in the very pinnacle of modern fashion. Surely a fine, hybrid woman such as she would flourish in Madrid rather than having to conceal flair for fashion and culture and the uncouth frontier of California. Inez is quite predisposed to such flattery begins to become obsessed with having her husband return them to their home in Madrid.
Diego finds that he has a nemesis that he shares with his alter ego Zorro, Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). He is your spirited and malicious without pity anyone especially the low born. Above and beyond his high rank in the military much of his power comes from being the sadistic right hand of Don Quintero not only performs any despicable task asked of him but he does it with great joy in flourish. It's the kind of role that Basil Rathbone became famous for mastering. Just a year before he played a similar role in the 'Adventures of Robin Hood' opposite Errol Flynn. As was common for young male actors of the time swordsmanship was a skill that was actively encouraged by the studio. Promising actors and actresses were trained in various skills that would bring realism to their roles. Joe actors were able to match Power Rathbone and Flynn in the agility and grace necessary successfully perform the scream sword fight. The tensions between the two main characters would be exacerbated throughout the story until the final moment, the showdown two men and their swords.
A movie like this had everything possible to heighten the entertainment value for the audience. Of course the men would be held mesmerized by the amazing acrobatic stunts and swordplay of the titular hero. The ladies there was always the romance between the handsome man in the elegantly beautiful leading lady. All of this was placed upon the setting of political intrigue in class discrimination which in a movie as well-crafted as this one provided an air of history to the story and validated it as something worthwhile. Remastering of this film is remarkable restoring the crystal clarity of the video and even removing any signs of degradation in the audio. This form is inducted into the National Film Registry in 2009 by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant", and to be preserved for all time. His new Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber helped perform that very function. This is a film that deserves to be available for generations to come.
Not quite the original Zorro - there were a few Zorro movies before this - but probably the best.
Decent, simple plot. Writer and director don't try to make things too complicated. It's pretty much Robin Hood set in early-1800s California. Consistent with this, doesn't overstay its welcome.
Good action scenes. Some of the fencing contests are among the best you'll see in a movie.
Good performances. Tyrone Power gives a solid, suitably dashing, performance as Zorro, while also having to act the dandy for his unmasked other life.
Nothing more than an action-drama though - don't expect anything too profound.