The Mark of Zorro (1940 film)
|The Mark of Zorro|
1940 US Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Rouben Mamoulian|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Screenplay by||John Taintor Foote|
|Story by||Garrett Fort
|Based on||The Curse of Capistrano
by Johnston McCulley
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Editing by||Robert Bischoff|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||94 minutes|
|Box office||$2 million (rentals)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American adventure film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck for 20th Century Fox. The action movie stars Tyrone Power as Don Diego Vega (Zorro), Linda Darnell as his love interest, and Basil Rathbone as the villain. The cast also includes Gale Sondergaard as the scheming wife of the corrupt local governor, Eugene Pallette as Zorro's local friar, and J. Edward Bromberg as the governor, along with Montagu Love, Janet Beecher, Robert Lowery, and Chris-Pin Martin.
The film was Nominated for Academy Award for the Best original score in the 1941 Academy Awards. In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant and will be preserved for all time.
The film is based on the story The Curse of Capistrano written by Johnston McCulley, originally published in 1919, which introduced the masked hero Zorro. The story is set in Southern California during the early 19th century. The plot deals with Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power), the apparently foppish son of wealthy ranchero Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), who returns to California after his education in Spain. He is horrified at the way the common people are mistreated by alcalde Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg). Don Diego adopts the guise of El Zorro ("the fox"), a masked outlaw who becomes the defender of the common people. Meanwhile, he romances the Alcalde's beautiful niece, Lolita (Linda Darnell). He simultaneously flirts with the Alcalde's wife Inez (Gale Sondergaard), filling her head with tales of Madrid fashion and culture and raising her desire to move there with her corrupt husband. In both his guises, Don Diego has to contend with the governor's ablest henchman, the malevolent Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone).
The film features a climactic duel between Zorro and Pasquale. Rathbone was known already in Hollywood as an outstanding classical fencer, but Power's own excellent skills are displayed here for the first time. The duel is ornate and full of subtlety, as opposed to Rathbone's duel with Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood, and the duel in The Mark of Zorro is considered by many movie buffs[weasel words] to be the finest swordfight in cinema. Staged by Hollywood's resident fencing master Fred Cavens and atmospherically shot by cinematographer Arthur Miller and director Rouben Mamoulian, the scene takes place in a single room and forces actors to fight rather than jump around in the scenery. In key shots, Cavens' son, Albert, doubles for Power (such as the shot where he plunges his saber through the bookcase). Scenes of fast fencing were undercranked to 18-20 frames per second, requiring that all the sound for the scene be post-synchronized. Rathbone suffered two scratches on his forehead during its filming, and later said of Power, "He could fence Errol Flynn into a cocked hat."
Original version 
The movie is a remake of the lavish 1920 smash hit silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Noah Beery, Sr.. The 1920 film introduced Zorro's iconic all-black costume, subsequently incorporated into Johnston McCulley's later Zorro stories. The 1920 film was the first in a popular array of swashbuckler action pictures starring the acrobatic Fairbanks, who had previously appeared mainly in comedies.
- Tyrone Power as Don Diego Vega/Zorro
- Linda Darnell as Lolita Quintero
- Basil Rathbone as Captain Esteban Pasquale
- Gale Sondergaard as Inez Quintero
- Eugene Pallette as Fray Felipe
- J. Edward Bromberg as Don Luis Quintero
- Montagu Love as Don Alejandro Vega
- Janet Beecher as Senora Isabella Vega
- George Regas as Sergeant Gonzales
- Chris-Pin Martin as Turnkey
- Robert Lowery as Rodrigo
- Belle Mitchell as Maria
- John Bleifer as Pedro
- Frank Puglia as Proprietor
- Eugene Borden as Officer of the Day
- Pedro de Cordoba as Don Miguel
- Guy D'Ennery as Don Jose
Batman connection 
In the DC Comics continuity it is established that The Mark of Zorro was the film which the young Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents at the cinema, moments before they were killed in front of his eyes by an armed thug. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce's childhood hero and an influence on his Batman persona. There are discrepancies regarding which version Bruce saw: The Dark Knight Returns claims it was the Tyrone Power version, whereas a story by Alan Grant claimed it to be the silent Douglas Fairbanks original. Bob Kane was himself inspired by Fairbanks' Zorro, including similarities in costumes, the "Bat Cave" and Zorro's cave, and unexpected secret identities, especially since the Batman character predates the Tyrone Power remake by a year.
In the animated series Justice League Unlimited, a flashback of the fateful night establishes that for DCAU continuity Bruce and his parents were attending The Mark of Zorro but does not indicate which version. In earlier episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, the fictional character Gray Ghost—a pulp fiction hero inspired by The Shadow—is the inspiration to young Bruce Wayne.
Home media 
The film has been released twice on DVD. The first was released on October 7, 2003 and featured the movie in its original black-and-white, as part of 20th Century Fox Studio Classics Collection. The second was released on October 18, 2005 as a Special Edition, and featured both a new restored black-and-white version and a colorized one, prepared by Legend Films. Both versions contain "Tyrone Power: The Last Idol" as seen on Biography on the A&E Network, and a commentary by film critic Richard Schickel.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 240, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 219, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- "25 new titles added to National Film Registry". Yahoo News (Yahoo). 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2009-12-30.[dead link]
- The Mark of Zorro at the Internet Movie Database
- The Mark of Zorro at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Mark of Zorro at AllRovi
- The Mark of Zorro at the TCM Movie Database