The Mark of Zorro (1940 film)

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The Mark of Zorro
Mark of Zorro 1940.jpg
1940 US Theatrical Poster
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay by John Taintor Foote
Story by Garrett Fort
Bess Meredyth
Based on The Curse of Capistrano 
by Johnston McCulley
Starring Tyrone Power
Linda Darnell
Basil Rathbone
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Arthur C. Miller
Edited by Robert Bischoff
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 8, 1940 (1940-11-08)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million[1]
Box office $2 million (rentals)[2]

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. Diego's mute servant, Bernardo is absent in this film adaptation.

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.[3]


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).

Original version[edit]

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.


Batman connection[edit]

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 movie theater, 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. The posters for The Mark of Zorro and the 1981 film Excalibur were used for a scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,[4]

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[edit]

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.


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 240, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 219, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  3. ^ "2009 Selections to the National Film Registry Announced". News Releases (The Library of Congress). 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 
  4. ^ "Batman v Superman" Set Pic Sets Stage for Wayne Murders - Comic Book Resources

External links[edit]