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Ever Watchable Classic Swashbuckler.
jpdoherty10 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The best swashbuckler ever made is how many regard 20th Century Fox's THE MARK OF ZORRO. Produced in 1940 for the studio by the uncredited Raymond Griffith and Darryl Zanuck the picture was Fox's answer to Warner Bros. who up to that time had, more or less, cornered the market with their finest array of swashbuckling adventures. With the perfect hero in Errol Flynn, who swept across our screens in such classics as "Captain Blood", "The Adventures Of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk" and all to the brilliant music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, other studios found it difficult to equal Warner's expertise in creating such flagship adventures. But Fox's THE MARK OF ZORRO was one that did and in its star Tyrone Power they even had a comparable hero to Flynn. From a story "The Curse Of Capistrano" by Johnston McCully it was splendidly adapted for the screen by John Taintor Foote, crisply photographed in black and white by the great Arthur Miller and the whole thing was adroitly handled by Russian director Rouben Mamoulian.

It is 1820 and a nobleman's son Don Diago Vega (Tyrone Power) returns home to California after spending some years at a military school in Spain. But he finds the province has greatly changed and has fallen under the dictatorship of an autocratic governor Don Luis Quintero (J.Edward Bromberg) and his ruthless sword wielding army Captain Estaban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). The people are heavily taxed and oppressed. Don Diago covertly takes up their cause and dons the guise of a masked avenger while maintaining a foppish and carefree persona to his family and friends. He raids the army coffers, returns to the peasants their meagre funds and avenges any harm that they incur. The picture ends with the people rising up against their oppressors, regaining their freedom from tyranny and Don Diago and Pasquale locked in an outstandingly staged sword fight to the death.

Performances are superb from the entire cast. The swashbuckling Don Diago Vega is one of Ty Power's most likable and best remembered roles. It also revealed his fine flair for comedy. As the fop he could be quite amusing (on being informed that the villainous Captain Pasquale was once a fencing instructor in Madrid Don Diago looks through his monocle at Pasquale, sighs wearily and quips "How exhausting"). It's a shame he didn't do more movies like this. Two years later he was a pirate on the high seas in the enjoyable "The Black Swan" and in 1947 he appeared in Fox's colourful epic on the Conquistadores "Captain From Castile" but that was all. Historical roles in "Prince of Foxes", "The Black Rose" and "Son Of Fury" were also enjoyable but none of these films ever gained any swashbuckling status. Excellent too was Basil Rathbone. His villain almost as sly and as cunning as his Guy of Gisbourne in "Robin Hood" two years earlier. And supplying the love interest was the lovely Linda Darnell who the following year would again star with Power in the Fox classic "Blood And Sand" again directed by Mamoulian. Also of interest is the casting of Eugene Palette as the church friar almost exactly the same role he played in "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

Of some note also is the brilliant score put together and conducted by Alfred Newman. The exciting main Zorro theme was written, not by Newman, but by the uncredited Hugo Friedhofer. It is an exhilarating heroic motif that the great Korngold himself would be proud to have written for Flynn. Great music is but one element that makes THE MARK OF ZORRO an unforgettable movie. Its popularity has endured since it was made almost 75 years ago and no doubt it will continue thrilling audiences for a long time to come.
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A masterpiece of screen Swordplay...
Nazi_Fighter_David3 June 2000
Tyrone Power - the swashbuckling answer to Errol Flynn - is cast as the agile masked avenger who decides to take up the people's cause in disguise leaving his 'mark' "Z" everywhere, on walls, coach, wooden barrels and human chest...

Power - in a double leading role - is at his best as Zorro, climbing, jumping, riding and fencing, determined to finish with tyranny and oppression by terrorizing, and retrieving taxation funds and by challenging a cunning officer, proving in public his indifference, his ostentation and irony as a perfect pacifist fop in 19th-Century Spanish California, confusing and deceiving his aristocratic father Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), the deposed Alcalde...

The inspired casting (in supporting roles) recalls "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

Linda Darnell is the pretty Lolita, Quintero's charming niece, who loves the mysterious hero and can't tolerate the fop until she is told that they are the image of the same person...

Basil Rathbone, one of the most durable of screen villains who has mastered stage fencing but never won a Swordfight, plays the cruel captain Esteban Pasquale, the Alcalde's military adviser... He is a second-rate soldier of fortune who leads the campaign of frustrating taxation, who considered Diego "a fancy clown" but who suggests a practical plan, an alliance for the good of the state...

J. Edward Bromberg is the cowardly Alcalde, Don Luis Quintero, a corrupted thief, enemy of the people, whose tyranny and avarice are always enforced by the treachery of his iron hand, the rigorous captain Esteban...

Eugene Palette plays the mission 'fat' priest (Father Felipe) who ignores that Diego is the opposing force...

The high point of the picture is the fantastic duel between Power and Rathbone, a masterpiece of screen Swordplay...

Rouben Mamoulian succeeds in making two great stars dance to an unheard music... With a touch of a great filmmaker, Mamoulian mixes harmoniously movement and action, decor and lightning with rage and turmoil, heroism and romance...

Under Alfred Newman's Oscar-Nominated score and despite the unusual absence of Technicolor, the film (the first of the great Tyrone Power swashbucklers ) is great fun, full of vitality and suspense, an exciting, deliciously ironic swashbuckler...
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Zorro, the Fox
Bucs19606 November 2003
What fun! This film has not aged a day in 63 is still a great tale of old California and the masked caballero, Zorro. Tyrone Power plays it to the hilt, and is especially good in his alter ego of the effeminate fop, Don Diego. He may not be quite as acrobatic as Fairbanks was in the original silent version but it doesn't detract from the performance. And Power was a fencer, so his sword fighting scenes certainly rang true. Put him with that elegant gentleman, Basil Rathbone, also an excellent swordsman, and you get one of the best sword fights in film history. Rathbone is the other shining star of this film. He oozes evil and was the master of the condescending sneer. The supporting cast is impeccable.....Palette, Sondergaard, Bromberg, Love, and the young, extremely beautiful Linda Darnell. It is curious to note that both Gale Sondergaard and J. Edward Bromberg were caught up in the Red Scare in Hollywood in the late 40'3, early 50's and their careers were basically destroyed by it.

This is a rousing, fun film with great dialogue and should be on everyone's "must see" list. One curious did those very revealing tight pants worn by Power and Rathbone get by the Hays Office? These were the days when you could not even show a married couple sharing the same bed and those pants didn't leave much to the imagination!
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Tyrone Power's Spectacular Swashbuckling Debut!
cariart12 October 2003
There is a curious parallel between Tyrone Power's life and career, and that of WB swashbuckler, Errol Flynn. Both of Irish descent, the two actors exploded into superstar status in their twenties, due to a single starring role in films made within a year of each other (for Flynn, barely 26, it was in 1935's CAPTAIN BLOOD; Power's breakthrough, at 22, came in 1936's LLOYDS OF LONDON). Both actors were extraordinarily handsome, were great practical jokers both on and off-screen, fought continuously with their respective studios for better roles, married three times (Flynn fathered three daughters and a son; Power, two daughters and a son), lived wildly adventurous lives, becoming infamous for their sexual indiscretions, and would die, less than a year apart, within two years of making their only film together (1957's THE SUN ALSO RISES). However, while Flynn had a reputation as a charismatic hell raiser which would make him as many enemies as friends during his tempestuous life, Tyrone Power was, by all accounts, even more charming and likable in person than he was on screen, and was universally loved, even by his ex-wives.

Both stars were considered premier swashbucklers of their time, and 1940's THE MARK OF ZORRO introduced Power to the genre dominated by Flynn. Just as Flynn's greatest triumph was a remake of an earlier Douglas Fairbanks classic (1922's ROBIN HOOD), Power's best-loved swashbuckler had first been a Fairbanks favorite, as well (1920's THE MARK OF ZORRO). As Don Diego de Vega, a cadet at 'the Academy' in Madrid who puts his gift with the sword to good use in an oppressed California, when recalled home by his father, he quickly adopts an effeminate persona (a la THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL), to mask his true ability and plans. While the charade infuriates his father ("My son has become a PUPPY!" he laments, at a time when the word 'homosexual' was not used), the guise helps the younger Vega worm his way into the confidence of the corrupt yet cowardly current Alcalde (the venerable J. Edward Bromberg) and his socially-conscious wife (Gale Sondergaard). Less 'taken in' is the true villain of the film, military commander Captain Esteban Pasquale (superbly portrayed by frequent Flynn nemesis Basil Rathbone), who sneers at the Alcalde's plan to marry Vega off to his niece, Lolita (the ravishing Linda Darnell), to quell local unrest; when Vega claims tardiness for the engagement dinner because of his bath water becoming 'tepid', Pasquale comments, "Just as I fear poor Lolita's future married life shall be."

The on-screen chemistry between Power and Darnell is terrific (a key scene, with Vega/Zorro disguised as a priest, as Lolita confesses her secret desires, would be 'spiced up' and recreated in the Banderas/Zeta-Jones 1998 update, THE MASK OF ZORRO). As the only other person who knows Zorro's real identity, Fray Felipe (Eugene Pallette, playing a role very similar to his 'Friar Tuck' in Flynn's ROBIN HOOD) has some of the film's wittiest dialog, and gets to show his swordsmanship in a brief duel with Pasquale ("You should have been a soldier", the captain comments, after disarming him).

If the film has a fault, it is that the Power/Rathbone climactic duel occurs too early. Staged by Errol Flynn's fencing master, Fred Cavens, the action is spectacular, confined to a single room, yet with Pasquale's death, the film loses it's most potent villain, and the final large-scale fight between the Alcalde's forces and the peons and gentry lacks the focus of the climax of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

Directed with tongue-in-cheek by veteran film maker Rouben Mamoulian, and with an Oscar-nominated score by Fox's musical mainstay, Alfred Newman, THE MARK OF ZORRO was a major studio hit (plans for a sequel were begun, but dropped when it was discovered that Fox only had the rights to the title, THE MARK OF ZORRO; the name 'Zorro' belonged to another studio, ending any possibility of a follow-up).

Tyrone Power had joined Errol Flynn as the reigning 'kings' of swashbucklers, a title both would find amusing, if limiting, but which would be how both actors are best remembered, today!
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The Best Zorro of the Cinema History
claudio_carvalho14 January 2010
In Madrid, the talented aristocratic military swordsman and rider Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) returns to the Mexican California to reunite with his father, the Alcalde Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), and his mother. When he arrives in Los Angeles, he finds that his father has been replaced by the tyrannous Alcalde Don Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg) that oppresses the people with soaring taxes and violent punishment for those that can not afford and supported by the corrupt Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone) and his soldiers. Don Diego does not disclose his abilities with the sword and disguises pretending that he is a sophisticated fashionable gay, for the heartache of his father. However, when he secretly wears a mask and rides a black horse, he becomes the avenger Zorro that carves his mark for the fearfulness of his enemies.

"The Mark of Zorro" is the best Zorro of the cinema history in a time when the studios were concerned with the screenplay and acting and not CGI and sex scenes. The witty delightful story presents Tyrone Power as a fantastic the weak and fragile Don Diego Vega and the powerful Zorro, with totally different personalities. His ability as swordsman and rider is impressive in a perfect choreography of fights, recalling Errol Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" of two years before. Linda Darnell is so sweet and beautiful that seems to be the inspiration for the title of the novel of Vladimir Nabokov. J. Edward Bromberg and Basil Rathbone are the perfect villains, the first one coward and sleazy and the second arrogant and corrupt. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "A Marca do Zorro" ("The Mark of Zorro")
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Thrilling movie and one of Power's best
blanche-24 December 2005
Director Rouben Mamoulian keeps the pace and excitement going in the wonderful 1940 "The Mark of Zorro" starring Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Palette, and J. Edward Bromberg. All are excellent.

This is one of Power's best performances in one of his best films. He is hilarious in the role of the exhausted, foppish, bored Don Diego, who is always whining, brushing nonexistent dirt from his clothing and fanning himself with his handkerchief. That is, when he isn't sniffing it and remembering the smell of "...Ah! Musk!" The way he drags himself around, performing stupid magic tricks, getting the shakes when he hears about Zorro, which disgusts his father and his betrothed (young, beautiful Linda Darnell) is a riot! When he becomes Zorro, racing through the woods on his horse as his cape fans out in the wind and whipping that sword around to make the sign of a Z (yes, I'm a baby boomer and I remember the song) - he's commanding, dashing, and frightening. This is a bravura performance.

There are so many great action scenes in the film - the alcalde's men chasing Zorro, the jail break, and the greatest of all, for which the film is remembered - the sword fight between Power and Rathbone. I first saw this film as a child, and I never forgot that bit with the candle! Inspired! A brilliant and classic scene.

Power was the 5th highest box office draw in 1940, and The Mark of Zorro set him up for lots more swashbuckling. When you see Zorro, you can understand why.
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my favorite superhero movie
dr_foreman9 October 2004
I like to be an iconoclastic jerk sometimes, so whenever I'm asked to name the best superhero movie, I always say "The Mark of Zorro." Then I have to specify that I mean the Tyrone Power movie, not the Fairbanks one and certainly not the Banderas. Ah, elitism can be amusing sometimes...

Seriously, though, this is one heck of a motion picture. The best part is the pacing; it's deliciously slow, in the most effective way. Characters are developed fully, tensions heighten gradually, and just when you're on the verge of getting bored - BOOM! A fantastic chase scene or swordfight perfectly repays your patience. Well, my patience, anyway. Maybe you were bored the whole way through?

Tyrone Power is simply awesome in this flick. He's hilarious as the fey Don Diego, and he cuts an impressive figure as Zorro. It's easy to see that Batman was patterned on Zorro, as he also pretends to be a stupid playboy, but Bruce Wayne was *never* this cool.

Basil Rathbone makes a great villain, as always, and his close-quarters duel with Zorro is, as I'm sure you've heard, one of cinema's great action scenes (I think the confined setting actually enhances the suspense). Even J. Edward Bromberg, who plays a slightly dated and silly character, somehow manages to come across well - it's interesting to see his character come into his own as the main villain at the end of the movie.

Even the romance isn't a dud. Lots of amusing flirting goes on, and Linda Darnell certainly is easy on the eyes.

Why can't they make action flicks like this anymore? To paraphrase a certain famous political catchphrase, "it's the characters, stupid." Everybody in this movie is colorful and cool, and through them I get wrapped up in the plot. When the biggest complaint I have is a bit of rear-screen projection during a boat ride, you know the movie's almost perfect.
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The California Cockerel Saves the Day.
bkoganbing10 July 2005
Young Don Diego De La Vega has been sent to Spain from the family estancia in Spanish California to learn fencing and get a little polish, bring some culture and couth to the frontier.

When he returns Diego finds all is not right. His father is out as alcalde of the village of Los Angeles and a new post captain and his willing accomplice, the new alcalde, are conducting wholesale robbery of the people quite legally. What to do?

When Diego De La Vega is played by Tyrone Power quickly give the impression you're a fatuous fop and don't let them see you're the best swordsman around. And by night take the guise of an 18th century bandit hero and call yourself Zorro.

I love this film very much because great romantic heroes like Tyrone Power just aren't found these days. Eventually Power proved he could do more than just look good in a period costume, but the movie going public loved him best in these kind of roles, me included.

He gets great support from lovely Linda Darnell whom he has to simultaneously repel as Don Diego and woo as Zorro to keep the fiction going. Basil Rathbone is a wonderful commandant who keeps the people in line and taxes to himself.

But I particularly liked J. Edward Bromberg and Gale Sondergaard as Senor and Senora Quintero the crooked alcalde and his scheming wife. Oddly enough as fate would have it, both of these people later on had blacklist problems with Bromberg meeting a tragic early death.

Dueling and romance from Tyrone Power, the California Cockerel so dubbed by his fellow students at the fencing academy who saves the day and wins the girl. And when the girl is Linda Darnell, does anyone have to ask what he's fighting for?
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An excellent classic
stevep4128 October 2005
This is an excellent classic that I pop in and watch often. No matter how many times you watch this one, it's still a great movie. This one is well worth purchasing. And who doesn't like Zoro? It's just a great little romp with horses, swords, and peons. Eugene Palette is one of my favorite supporting actors that just so happens to be the Fiar Fray Felipe, the local church leader. Although a member of the church, the Friar is also capable of using (and teaching?) the use of the sword. After the return of Don Deigo and the mysterious highwayman Zoro, the Friar finds himself the "purveyer of stolen goods!" He also gets in on the action at the end, hitting soldiers on the head left and right and saying "God forgive me!" He also gets to escort the Vega's down to the ship sailing for Spain at the end as well as other pieces here and there. Overall he got a fairly substantial part in the movie in my opinion. Just a great movie for the family or just yourself on a rainy day or any day.
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an exciting swashbuckler--every bit as grand as the films of Errol Flynn
MartinHafer2 March 2006
I loved this film. In fact, because I loved this movie so much, I think it spoiled me for later versions of the Zorro story. Guy Madison and Antonio Banderas just CAN'T be Zorro, as I'll forever see him in the form of Tyrone Power. He is just wonderful--playing the role with a lot of gusto but a little less bravura than Errol Flynn would have done in the same role--and it works very well. This, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION and THE BLACK SWAN are the three absolute best films Power ever made. See them all and then you'll appreciate his work. Apart from Power, the film features a wonderful supporting cast, brisk pacing and a lavish (for Fox) budget.
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That Curse of Capistrano
theowinthrop21 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I wonder when Johnston McCully wrote a short tale called THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO he realized that he created a literary figure who would create a line of movie, television, and radio stories that are the equal of Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Batman (a type of accidental spin-off, belatedly), and Superman. Add to that list Diego De La Vega, who as "Zorro" is the secret hero of the story, and with his wits and swordsmanship takes on and overturns a local tyrant governor and his military aide in old California. The role would be played by many people starting with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and going to Tyrone Power, George Hamilton, and Antonio Banderas. Indeed now, to keep up with current trends, Zorro's wife is as good a swords-person as he is.

The version in this 1940 production was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and it has been criticized (why, I have never understood) as being too still. Certainly it lacks some of the athletic tricks the 1920 silent version had due to Doug Fairbanks, but the action is fast enough. And it presented a fascinating dual role for star Tyrone Power, and gave enough early 19th Century Spanish-American/Mexican-American background to satisfy Mamoulian's love of stylistic sets and direction.

Power is the son of Montague Love, and has been sent to Spain for his education. Love was the Alcalde of the town Power came from in California, but when he returns he discovers Love was replaced (we never exactly learn how), and the new governor (J. Edward Bromberg) and his wife (Gale Sondergaard) are a pair of vultures who are stealing everything they can from the local population through heavy taxes - with a large share going to their military aide (Basil Rathbone). Rathbone is quite a good swordsman, and quite ruthless. He sees no reason not to use force on the locals to tow the line. And nobody is around to stop him.

The only possible brake on them is Eugene Palette, the local mission father - thus representing the Roman Catholic Church, but while they can't act against him they can ignore his anger. Love and his cronies have to keep quiet or their lands will be seized.

Nobody knows that Power became a brilliant swordsman in Spain, and was even offered a military post there. When he returns he decides to fully pretend that Spain "emasculated" the splendid boy he once was as a young kid, and left him a tepid and tired fop. His biggest social claim is a tired joke about his handkerchief.

This relieves (or is dismissed by) the villains. Rathbone, in particular, would love to face a worthy sword foe-man (we constantly see Basil prepping himself for fighting, and at one point he anxiously inquires if Power fancies the sword as a weapon). Love is disappointed by this worthless fop who has returned, as is Palette.

Then, a mysterious night rider comes around the area and starts beating up and running through various troops sent to collect taxes or other forms of extortion. The masked rider calls himself "Zorro", and only Palette learns it is Power. He goes from one escapade to another, including robbing Bromberg and Sondergaard in their coach. At the same time, while goading Esteban (Rathbone) by showing how ineffective the latter is in keeping the lid on the kettle, Power also twits the latter by becoming a romantic rival to the latter over the niece of Bromberg and Sondergaard (Linda Darnell).

Nice touches abound in this film. This is the swordsmanship film where Power uses his sword to cut a set of candles in half without them apparently moving (Rathbone supposedly cut them in half but his halves fell to the floor). It also has moments of comedy - Rathbone finding Bromberg in his office tied up and blindfolded with a sword at his throat (placed there by Power before he left), asks the alcalde if he is trying to commit suicide!

Altogether a very superior adventure story.
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Tyrone Power: Badass In Black
riddlersrule8 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
All I can say is "Wow!" I just got this movie and I was blown away! The scenery, the dialog, the nonstop constant swordplay, this movie has it all! Tyrone Power's representation of Zorro couldn't be any more cool, and his acting to appear like a fop while hiding as Don Diego De la Vega is so complete that for a moment you almost forget that he's the wisecracking horse riding sword-playing hero for the people. A decent length at a movie from 1940, at an hour and thirty-three minutes, this movie just keeps you captivated from sword fight to plot twist until it's nerve-shattering sword fight between Diego and Captain Pasquale, during which you'll have to remind yourself to breathe! Oh, and before I forget, this is a very good point to mention that in DC Comics, this is the film that Bruce Wayne saw with his parents the night they were gunned down. What movie inspired that legendary Batman? Watch The Mark of Zorro and find out.
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Original is always best.
mandajanek21 June 2004
I have this movie on DVD and it's one of my favourites. It's similar in plot and style to "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), and even features most of that film's actors (Basil Rathbone, Eugene Palette and Montague Love). Tyrone Power is great in the lead role. He plays the hero/ fop in much the same way as Leslie Howard did in "the Scarlet Pimpernel"- although, I have to admit, I think Power's is far superior to Howard's. There are some wonderful witty lines, most of which the fans have already pointed out, including Captain Paquale's: "oh dear, his bath water was tepid. It looks like poor Lolita's married life will turn out to be the same." Another one of my favourite scenes is the one where Rathbone's villain , after winning Eugene Palette in a sword fence, remarks, "you should have become a soldier rather than a man of the church". He then opens a chest containing the taxes that Zorro has reclaimed, exclaiming, "Santa Maria! No wonder you chose the church!" Rathbone's Captain Pasquale is a great character, brilliantly written and acted (it's amazing to think that he was 21 years older than Tyrone Power, but still made a brilliant fencing opponent). Gale Sondergaard, who plays Inez Qunitero, was to appear opposite Rathbone again in "Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman". All of the characters are wonderfully cast in this brilliant example of a good, old fashioned swashbuckler, the kind they can't seem to make any more. I really enjoyed "The Mask of Zorro" (1998) with Antonio Banderas, but it still isn't a patch on the original.
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great film
KyleFurr210 October 2005
This movie was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and this was basically the only action movie he directed and probably his best film, he made one more movie with Tyrone Power a year later called Blood And Sand and that was pretty bad. This is also one of Power's best movies and much better than Jesse James the year before. Their isn't much to the plot that you need to know like Power coming back from Spain and finding his father thrown out of power by a dictator and the people are starving. His father can't or won't do anything so Power decides to become Zorro. Basil Rathbone is the dictator's top bodyguard and a top swordsman. Linda Darnell is the dictator's daughter who winds up getting married to Power through an arranged marriage. This is much better then the remake in 98 called The Mask Of Zorro and a great movie.
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Delightful piece of swashbuckling fun
Camera-Obscura12 February 2007
Great action and at the same time one of the most hilarious roles ever to come out of Hollywood. Tyrone Power is great in the title role, not only when in full swashbuckling action as Zorro, but also as the effeminate dandy Don Diego Vega, fanning his handkerchief, sneezing, and performing ridiculous magic tricks upon stupid prison wardens, when not courting the beautiful Alcalde's daughter Inez Quintero. You gotta love Zorro, the good old-fashioned hero of LA county, always prepared to fight for justice, fight poverty and save damsels in distress, occasionally engraving the mark "Z", preferably on men's chest or cloth.

There's enough innuendo and snappy dialog in here to keep adult audiences entertained as well as enough action for younger audiences to cherish this film (and even enough romance with dashing Power to keep the ladies satisfied). Basil Rathbone, as Captain Esteban Pasquale, makes a superb villain, always prepared to draw his sword, either for serious business or sadistic amusement. "Most men have objects they play with. Churchmen have their beads; I toy with a sword."

Wit Tyrone Power's undisputed comedic talent, he adds so much wit into his character (and to the already hilarious lines), the film is a real hoot. It's a shame Power embarked on more serious roles later in his career. With most of the lines ranging from the outright hilarious to marvelously corny, like Don Diego Vega's courting of the young lady Inez: "You're more lovely, more radiant than a morning in June," it's hard to take it all very serious, but when the fencing starts, playtime is over. Basil Rathbone, one of Hollywood's most skilled swordsmen, knows how to handle a sword like no-one else and Tyrone Power was quick to learn. The climactic swashbuckling scene between the two arch enemies in the small confined room of the Alcalde (brilliantly choreographed) is - till this very day - the best sword fight ever put on film, even surpassing the final fight between Rathbone and Errol Flynn, two years before in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938).

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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Zorro in All His Glory
gavin694224 November 2015
A young aristocrat must masquerade as a fop in order to maintain his secret identity of Zorro as he restores justice to early California.

I did not really know much about Zorro. I was not aware his secret identity had his as sort of a buffoon and ladies man. But I like that about him. And I like that, just like Superman or other heroes, it creates the scenario where someone can be attracted to one personality and not the other... or sometimes both, without even knowing! Some people have compared this to the "Adventures of Robin Hood". Is that fair? I do not know. But the consensus is that this is the better of the two. With that, I would have to agree. It is a fun story with all sorts of political intrigue that Robin Hood just cannot match.
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Rollicking action movie
grantss6 May 2015
Rollicking action movie.

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.
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Pleasant Scorpions and Agreeable Rattlesnakes
jzappa28 October 2011
This is what I can't help but like about the old high seas adventures and swashbuckling romances of the 1930s and '40s. You know, the ones where you can always hear Alfred Newman's bombastic score. The Mask of Zorro opens with a title card saying, "Madrid - when the Spanish Empire encompassed the globe, and young blades were taught the fine and fashionable art of killing…" So what's that, like 18...30? 1840? I guess we'll figure it out. And so we do, of course. But there was an unabashed syrupy-ness about the melodramatic urgency given to these movies.

When Zorro's not prancing around in his little cape eye-mask, he's playing the part of the utterly timid, and more than a touch effeminate, Don Diego Vega. The likelihood that Vega could be the remarkably expert swashbuckler never once dawns on the baddies, largely because Vega is such a stern little prude.

The first big-budget talkie starring the swashbuckling samaritan, Rouben Mamoulian's old-fashioned jaunt was a blockbuster in 1940, and it remains recalled quite warmheartedly by the Silent Generation's moviegoers, and equally the small screen's fascinated beginners among the Baby Boom, as one of the period's very best adventure pictures. One grows accustomed to the movie's qualitative foothold in that time of matinée idols and sword-fighting silver-screen hero worship, and we can concede for that reason. But tolerant filmgoers will stay open for a movie that's considerably chock-a-block with romance, action, duplicity, and courageous bravado, all in an overstated manner that could've only been taken seriously in 1940, and perhaps not one year later.

The nuts and bolts are all here: Don Diego is invited to come home from Madrid to his family in Los Angeles, but upon his reappearance he learns that his father's standing as "alcalde" has been seized by the shameless Don Luis Quintero, a nasty piece of work who's nothing more than a minion to the man enjoying the real supremacy: Captain Esteban Pasquale. As expected, Diego/Zorro means to linger in Los Angeles just long enough to depose the scoundrels, entice a pretty slice of illicit fruit, and bring integrity to his family's native soil. Nothing ground-breaking here, but there's nothing amiss in a straightforward adventure yarn told in the traditional way.
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The Best Of All Zorros
Looney Toon joe14 November 2003
This is my all time favourite Zorro film.Tyrone Power is a great and dashing Don Diego/Zorro.The scenes with him playing a foppish dandy to hide his true persona are both hilarious and wonderfully enjoyable.THE MARK OF ZORRO starts off at a fast pace and never lets up for a moment. The villains are played by J.Edward Bromberg

as the corrupt and cowardly Don Quintero who bleeds the californian people dry with over taxation and Captain Pasquale,the superb Basil Rathbone,adding further menace.Linda Darnell is once again cast as Power's love interest,the lovely Lolita Quintero. Eugene Pallette reprises his role in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD by playing yet another lovable friar and Montagu Love plays Diego's deposed father.Solid and stylish direction from Rouben Mamoulian with a brilliant score by Alfred Newman. This film also contains one of the greatest duels ever captured on screen from two of hollywood's most agile swordsmen,TYRONE POWER AND BASIL RATHBONE. A great swashbuckling adventure!!!!!!

P.S.Also worth noting is the nice performance by Gale Sondergaard as Lolita's obviously jealous Aunt Inez!

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good Zorro action movie
funkyfry26 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Tyrone Power makes a fine Zorro and he gets to face off against Basil Rathbone as the villain Captain Esteban Pasquale. Their fast paced and graceful duel with blades is definitely the high point for me of this Zorro film, the first significant version after the silent era brought us two excellent versions produced by star Douglas Fairbanks. Although Power doesn't have the raw athleticism of Fairbanks (who does?), he's an excellent fencer and his screen personality is well suited to the role. Just as with Fairbanks in his version of "Mark of Zorro," we get to see Power play both a foppish nobleman and the secret identity of Zorro. This provides an interesting set of layers to the film in the sense that Don Diego Vega only shows his "true" self when he wears the mask and presents his "disguise" when he shows his true face. It also provides room for situational comedy, since his beloved, Lolita Quintero (Linda Darnell), must not know this secret too soon. This film doesn't mine it quite as fully as Fairbanks' in which the secret is not revealed until very close to the conclusion… probably the producers felt that the conceit was a bit too thin to hold up over the length of the entire picture and that the romance would suffer because of it. Regardless it's an interesting sign of the changes in audience tastes after the silent era and the perception that pure melodrama could not sustain a picture in the "modern" 1940s film atmosphere.

Arthur Miller's photography is good and Alfred Newman's music is suitable but not overwhelming in quality like so many of his scores. A lot of the look and feel of the film's pseudo-Spanish atmosphere was improved and enhanced with many of the same cast members in color for "Blood and Sand." Director Mamoulian's sense of rhythm and pace is impeccable.

Power's performance of course is the only one that really gets the focus of the film; even Darnell's maiden in distress is merely a functionary of his experiences and adventure. Rathbone does some good work in a pretty easy role for him. The most surprising work in this film comes from Gale Sondergaard, who provides a very believable turn as the wife of the corrupt regional governor (J. Edward Bromberg) who imagines herself as a kind of demimonde or woman of the world. The dinner scene with the wife, the governor, Don Vega and Capt. Pasquale is probably the most interesting in the film from a character standpoint, because we have these two very macho men seemingly battling for the attention of Sondergaard's vain wife while the fat corrupt husband watches. Even given his stupidity, it's impossible to think that the governor isn't aware of what's happening and that lends the film a slight edge of moral iniquity. The conflict also adds to the negative chemistry between Vega and Pasquale. And it's interesting to watch from the perspective that even though Vega/Zorro is only pretending to be interested in Dona Quintero (Sondergaard), he's still able to win her from his rival – how ironic! The film builds steadily to an exciting climax with Zorro and Capt. Pasquale in a fatal duel and the people of Los Angeles rising up against the oppressive governor. I'm sure this was supremely exciting for audiences in the early 40s and it still holds up as an action/adventure film today.
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Masked but unmasked
Roman-Nies30 May 2007
Why is this film a great one? 1. because the dramaturgy rises from beginning to the end, even the love story goes parallel in the same pace and reaches its climax towards the end 2. two dedicated "engenious" main characters - Tyrone and Basil who are the perfect antagonists (they are incredible) 3. an outstanding fencing scene (no animation, has anybody seen a more impressing one? 4. another extreme is the tension between the masked hero Zorro and the unmasked coward who is the same person (which makes also "Superman" so interesting, it is a nice idea that the latter is in reality the "masked" because he is masked with a wrong personality 5. From the beginning the spectator, although agitated from the wrongs and iniquities, knows that the good will prevail, notwithstanding there is always a high tension 6. highly morally! the good is clearly visible, as is the bad 7. Everything is alway plain and straightforward and in accordance with the expectation of the spectator 8. It is a film for everybody, no limitation of age, no sex (all real great films do not need that kind of private "sensation"), the violence is either to be condemned if performed by the bad ones, or admitted if done by the good ones. 9. It is not like in the real life, but it turns out to be of the sort of things everybody who dreams of a better world, would like to have it

Some specialities: 1. No Us boys! mostly the Spaniards are in anglo-saxon films the villains, here even the heroes and heroines are Spanish! I applaud! 2. We learn that Los Angeles was originally a happy place for latinos 3. This film reminded me strongly to Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood. If I compare these three films - you could ad Dodge City - there are many similarities. If You compare them with the movies of our days ... good old times! They are not able to make such movies today. They lack of everything which is needed.

4. I could watch the film from beginning till end, I was never bored (which is very seldom).
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One of the best adventure films
reve-214 May 2000
I never seem to tire to watching this film whenever it appears on TV. As a youngster, I saw it in a local theater during a re-release. Tyrone Power is perfect as Don Diego, a fop who appears more interested in the latest fashions and dance steps than in helping the oppressed people of his land. But, of course, he is, in reality, Zorro, the masked savior who rights all wrongs and eventually wins the day. To enjoy this film it is, of course, necessary to suspend reality, such as not quibbling about why he is not recognized simply because he wears a mask but is exactly the same physical size and voice of Don Diego. And, BTW, Basil Rathbone is once again the perfect foil as the "baddie" who engages in the climactic sword fight with the hero, just as he did in the 1938 Robin Hood movie, where his opponent was Errol Flynn.
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Splendid swashbuckler
Leofwine_draca31 January 2015
THE MARK OF ZORRO is certainly a lively and entertaining film for its era, a movie that manages to surpass THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD in terms of spectacle and excitement. And it absolutely destroys the modern-day adaptations of the story starring Antonio Banderas that seem positively dreadful by comparison.

The simple storyline sees Hollywood star Tyrone Power playing a double role: he's a mild-mannered aristocrat by day, and a vengeful, Robin Hood-style outlaw by night. Of course, this kind of narrative is entirely predictable, but the film's format is kept strong thanks to decent black and white cinematography and some good characterisations that feel reminiscent of a spaghetti western.

Power proves himself a likable and athletic hero - it was the first time I'd seen him in action - and he's more than matched by the excellent Basil Rathbone as a villain. THE MARK OF ZORRO also contains the best bit of fencing ever put on film, an extended duel that easily becomes one of the best fight scenes ever put on film, a real highlight of a good-natured and thoroughly enjoyable movie.
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..... z .....
AAdaSC6 October 2014
It's 1820 and Tyrone Power (Diego) is summoned back from his military training in Spain. His father Montagu Love (Alejandro) has sent for him and so he arrives back in Los Angeles, which is basically a town of Mexicans. Overseeing the territory is J Edward Bromberg (Quintero) who keeps the tax money for himself and shares it with his bodyguard Basil Rathbone (Captain Pasquale). These guys are bad, especially Rathbone, and his wife Gale Sondergaard (Inez) is super scheming. What can Tyrone do to help the people……? Well, Zorro shows up……..

This is good entertainment and Power is very good in the lead role. As Diego, he is wonderfully camp as he complains of his bath water being tepid amongst other things. There is no way this guy can fight. Well, Rathbone learns different in a memorable fencing sequence towards the end of the film. Power also has a couple of good scenes with Linda Darnell (Lolita), eg, in the chapel when she comes across Zorro disguised as a priest but doesn't realize who he is. There is an amusing bit where she repeatedly bends down to try and look at his face but he is wise to this and bends down with her. The cast is rounded off with Eugene Palette as the likable Padre and George Regas as the nasty Gonzales.

As coincidence would have it, I came across the Antonio Banderas version of Zorro in the evening on TV after I had watched this version in the afternoon. As far as I can see, no comparison. The 1940 version wins. Watch out for a crazy stunt as Zorro and horse jump off a bridge into a river – woah!
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really good
Vincentiu14 December 2013
one of most impressive duel scenes. the mixture of humor and tension. and the lead role as the best cloth for Tyron Power. it is a film who shatters the nostalgic references and who gives a total entertainment , does an inspired example of adventure and has the rare gift to create a splendid portrait of joy. nothing, in this case, is not a sketch. the characters, the plot, the acting. all has deep roots and the final impression is to discover a precise work in which each part has mark of thoroughly care. maybe, the best Zorro, it remains memorable. a movie who must see it. not as link of cinema history but for its special beauty. and, maybe, for the flavor of a manner to do a real good film.
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