The Mark of Zorro (1920 film)
|The Mark of Zorro|
|Directed by||Fred Niblo
Theodore Reed (2nd unit)
|Produced by||Douglas Fairbanks|
|Written by||Johnston McCulley (story)
Eugene Miller & Douglas Fairbanks (scenario)
Marguerite De La Motte
|Music by||Mortimer Wilson|
|Cinematography||William C. McGann
|Editing by||William Nolan|
|Studio||Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||November 27, 1920|
|Running time||90 minutes|
The Mark of Zorro is a 1920 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery. This genre-defining swashbuckler adventure was the first movie version of The Mark of Zorro. Based on the 1919 story "The Curse of Capistrano" by Johnston McCulley, which introduced the masked hero, Zorro, the screenplay was adapted by Fairbanks (as "Elton Thomas") and Eugene Miller.
The film was produced by Fairbanks for his own production company, Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation, and was the first film released through United Artists, the company formed by Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith. The character Sgt. Pedro Gonzales (Noah Beery) was later transformed into Sgt. Demetrio Lopez Garcia (Henry Calvin) by the Disney TV series with Guy Williams as Diego/Zorro, who was renamed Don Diego de la Vega.
In comic book history of the Golden Age, this was the film that the Waynes took their young son Bruce to on that fateful night in Gotham City in 1920.
Primary cast 
- Douglas Fairbanks as Don Diego Vega/Señor Zorro
- Marguerite De La Motte as Lolita Pulido
- Noah Beery, Sr. as Sergeant Pedro Gonzales
- Charles Hill Mailes as Don Carlos Pulido
- Claire McDowell as Doña Catalina Pulido
- Robert McKim as Captain Juan Ramon
- George Periolat as Governor Alvarado
- Walt Whitman as Father Felipe
- Sidney De Gray as Don Alejandro Vega
- Tote Du Crow as Bernardo, Don Diego's mute servant
- Noah Beery, Jr. as Boy
- Charles Stevens as Peon beaten by Sergeant Gonzales
- Milton Berle (uncredited child)
The Mark of Zorro tells the story of Don Diego Vega, the outwardly foppish son of a wealthy ranchero Don Alejandro in the old Spanish California of the early 19th century. Seeing the mistreatment of the peons by rich landowners and the oppressive colonial government, Don Diego, who is not as effete as he pretends, has taken the identity of the masked Robin Hood-like rogue Señor Zorro ("Mr. Fox"), champion of the people, who appears out of nowhere to protect them from the corrupt administration of Governor Alvarado, his henchman the villainous Captain Juan Ramon and the brutish Sergeant Pedro Gonzales (Noah Beery, Wallace Beery's older half-brother). With his sword flashing and an athletic sense of humor, Zorro scars the faces of evildoers with his mark, "Z."
When not in the disguise of Zorro, dueling and rescuing peons, Don Diego courts the beautiful Lolita Pulido with bad magic tricks and worse manners and she cannot stand him. Lolita is also courted by Captain Ramon; and by the dashing Zorro, whom she likes.
In the end, when Lolita's family is jailed, Don Diego throws off his masquerade, whips out his sword, wins over the soldiers to his side, forces Governor Alvarado to abdicate, and wins the hand of Lolita, who is delighted to discover that her effeminate fiancé, Diego, is actually the dashing hero.
Reception and Impact 
The Mark of Zorro is full of plot twists and secret passageways. It set a new standard[neutrality is disputed] with its appealing blend of romance, comedy and swordplay, as Zorro evades pursuit while fighting all oppressors.
The Zorro costume of black clothes, black mask, and round black hat that audiences know today was introduced in this film rather than in the original short story, and McCulley dressed Zorro in that outfit in his many subsequent Zorro stories in imitation of Fairbanks' fantastically popular film. Also, Fairbanks' acting exerted a tremendous influence upon later actor Burt Lancaster, as Lancaster frequently mentioned, and modern audiences can't help but note this in Fairbanks' first scene as Zorro, in which a surreally huge smile is accentuated.
Although some prefer the 1940 sound version starring Tyrone Power, Fairbanks' prodigious athletic prowess and tremendous enthusiasm made the original movie a great success, leading to a whole series of similar swashbuckler roles for Fairbanks, including The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Fairbanks' astonishing acrobatics amaze even modern audiences,[neutrality is disputed] particularly in the climax of The Mark of Zorro. A sequel, Don Q, Son of Zorro, with Fairbanks reprising his role as Don Diego and also playing Don Diego's son, Don Cesar de la Vega, was released in 1925.
- The Mark of Zorro at the Internet Movie Database
- The Mark of Zorro is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Mark of Zorro at AllRovi
- AFI entry for The Mark of Zorro
- The Film Tribute - The Mark of Zorro
- The Mark of Zorro at Rotten Tomatoes
- The film at Google Video