The Mark of Zorro Reviews
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.
In 1820 Don Diego Vega is an aristocrat who returns home to Spain from California to find his country under the rule of an evil dictator. However, the dictator's niece is a beauty he hopes to masquerade as her fiancÚ to get closer to the uncle and ultimately bring down his operation. Don Diego will become Zorro and perform as a Robin Hood of sorts for his countrymen.
"Find speech or I'll cut out your tongue."
Rouben Mamoulian, director of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Queen Christina, Silk Stockings, Blood and Sand, Golden Boy, and Summer Holiday, delivers Mark of Zorro. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and contains witty lines, interesting characters, great action, and solid drama. The acting is also wonderful and the cast includes Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Eugene Pallette, and Gale Sondergaard.
"All of the people were covered in blood."
"Sorry I missed that."
I DVR almost all of Power's movies off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) as they come on. This was a very fun and entertaining picture. His character was entertaining, although a bit predictable, and I loved how the story turned out. Overall, this is an entertaining movie that is definitely worth watching once.
"Sword play is such a violent business."
Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power): How could I refuse a man anything with a naked sword in his hand?
This was actually pretty darn good. The story was pretty straight-forward and familiar for any fans of Zorro. I think I'm beginning to be a fan of Tyrone Power. I finally see the attraction because he was undeniably charming and amusing in this movie. His acting ability (more than his good looks) was the real star of this film because his talent was able to showcase the duality of Don Diego's personality with great balance. He was as convincing as fop that was Don Diego, as he was the heroic Zorro. Equally brilliant was Basil Rathbone, who played Captain Estaban. He was a great classic villain (the kind you loved to hate) and the sword fighting between him and Power was surprisingly exciting. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they both mastered swordplay for this film. Linda Darnell was gorgeous and played the innocent wall-flower Lolita Quintero perfectly. The rest of the cast was awesome as well and played their parts beautifully; mad props to Gale Sondegaard, who played Senora Quintero; she was devilishly devious, but at the same time all too simple and gullible that it was too irresistible not to rejoicing in her inevitable failure. Although this isn't really the usual genre I normally like viewing, the movie was still very entertaining and I found it really enjoyable to watch.