The Mark Of Zorro, |
directed by Rouben Mamoulian
(20th Century-Fox, 1940)
The Mark of Zorro was the first Zorro movie with sound. It is the classic that most of us usually associate with the hero.
Diego (Tyrone Power) is summoned home from Madrid. He arrives to find his father, Alejandro (Montagu Love), has been forced to resign as Alcade. He has been replaced by a tyrant, Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), who appears to be controlled by the sadistic Captain Esteban (Basil Rathbone), a former fencing instructor in Barcelona.
Diego plans to convince Quintero to resign and name Alejandro Diego as his successor. But in a region where the people in power are cutting out the tongues of people who speak against them, Diego must execute his plan in secrecy. He also knows that his father would never approve of his actions.
Diego adopts a dual role. Around people, he is a lazy, prim and prissy, perfumed gentleman who knows nothing of weaponry and feels faint at the thought of violence. In secret, he is Zorro -- the fox -- a swordsman with skills ranging from horsemanship to acrobatics to slight of hand.
Diego's life is complicated by the priest's open disgust with his lifestyle, but he cannot tell him the truth yet. His life becomes even more complicated when, while disguised as Zorro, he meets the Alcalde's niece, Lolita (Linda Darnell) and falls in love with her.
The Mark of Zorro is a classic for good reason -- superior quality in every respect. The story is extremely well-written and the acting is of the highest caliber. Power shines in his dual-natured role and sets the standard for all subsequent Zorros.
The stunts in this film are nice. The most impressive is when horse and rider leap from the bridge into the river. The camera stays on them all the way down. Filmmakers cannot do that now because of Humane Association restrictions. It is a most impressive stunt.
There is plenty of action throughout the movie. The sword fighting is fantastic, especially when Zorro and Esteban square off. There is also plenty of comedy. From swords to the rear side to saucy remarks, Zorro derives great pleasure from humiliating his opponents, much to the amusement of his viewers.
The Mark of Zorro will turn you into a Zorro fan, if you are not already. It is a timeless classic of the highest quality.
Alicia Karen Elkins
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