Zorro (1975 film)
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|Directed by||Duccio Tessari|
|Written by||Giorgio Arlorio|
by Johnston McCulley
|Music by||Guido & Maurizio De Angelis|
|Edited by||Mario Morra|
|Running time||120 minutes
Zorro is a 1975 Italian/French film based on the character created by Johnston McCulley. Directed by Duccio Tessari, it stars famous French actor Alain Delon as Zorro. Filmed in Spain, this Italian movie has many spaghetti western elements to it.
Diego de la Vega (Alain Delon) is about to return to Spain from the New World when he chances to meet his old friend, Miguel de la Serna. Miguel has just been appointed the new governor of Nuova Aragon after the death of his uncle, Don Fernando. Diego tries to warn Miguel that Nuova Aragon has been ruled by greed and hatred for many generations and that Miguel's uncle (who supposedly died of malaria) was probably murdered, but Miguel, who is consumed by pacifistic humanitarian ideals, will not listen. Later that same evening, Miguel is attacked by several men while walking outside the inn. Diego arrives and, with stunning swordplay, defeats the men and forces one of them to talk. The man says that Colonel Huerta (Stanley Baker) sent them to kill Miguel. Dying, Miguel agrees to let Diego go in his place, but makes him swear that "the new Governor will never kill." Diego reluctantly agrees.
Months later in Nuova Aragon, Colonel Huerta asks the council for complete control of the army and government. Just then, Diego (in disguise as de la Serna) arrives and announces that he is the new governor. He then meets Miguel's aunt, Carmen (Adriana Asti), who is little inclined to have any kind of familial relationship with her "nephew". He also meets Kapitan Fritz von Markel (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), the head of the Governor's personal guard, and narrowly escapes an assassination attempt via a bowl of poisoned sweets (the former Governor's dog Assassin knocks the bowl over and some birds die after eating the candy).
Diego and Joaquin (Miguel's mute servant, replacing Bernardo) watch Huerta force his men through a grueling fencing practice; afterwards, Huerta slices through candles without disturbing them, showing off his skill. In response to the Governor's request for "personal safety", he appoints Sergeant Garcia (Moustache), an overweight soldier with more than a bit of an appetite, as the Governor's bodyguard. Later, in Diego's room, the dog Assassin shows Diego and Joaquin a secret passageway behind a bookshelf. In disguise, Diego and Joaquin roam the streets of Nuova Aragon, seeing how much the people have been cowed.
Two incidents attract Diego's attention: a group of boys causing mischief to corrupt merchants leaving behind a chalked "Z", and a monk named Brother Francisco trying to rouse the people against Huerta's cruelty. After the monk is helped to evade capture by the soldiers by friendly townspeople, Diego and Joaquin question one of the boys, Chico. Although unwilling to talk at first, Chico is convinced to trust Diego and tells him about the legend of Zorro: "the spirit of the black fox. He's a great fighter and he always wins, he can never die." Bringing Brother Francisco's cart back to him, Diego, Joaquin and Chico witness Brother Francisco being arrested by the soldiers.
The next day, Brother Francisco has been unjustly sentenced to 20 lashes for fraud in selling rotten hides and slander against the merchant who has framed him. After a few lashes, Diego appears as Zorro, releases Brother Francisco and forces the soldiers to give "the corrupt judge, the lying witness, and the murdering executioner" three times the number of lashes Brother Francisco was sentenced to.
Diego, once again as Serna, comments on a portrait of Hortensia Pulido (Ottavia Piccolo) and is attracted to her. He is informed by Aunt Carmen that her family was once wealthy but now poor, a fact confirmed by Huerta who claims that the Pulidos were conspiring against the people of Nuova Aragon. Later in the town marketplace, Hortensia urges the people to rise up against the soldiers, saying that the scales the merchants use are rigged. Garcia shows up, ordering her to stop causing trouble and begins ridiculing Zorro. Suddenly Zorro appears and orders Garcia at sword-point to get on the scale, which shows that Garcia supposedly weighs "only 50 pounds." After Zorro toys with the clumsy Garcia at swords for some time, soldiers appear, but since Chico and some other boys have dumped their rifles down a well, they are forced to go after Zorro with swords. Naturally, following an athletic chase through the marketplace Zorro escapes, and Hortensia looks on with admiration.
Later, Hortensia returns to her home, where she finds Zorro waiting. Zorro and Hortensia talk for only a few moments before Huerta arrives. Hortensia urges Zorro to go, saying that she is afraid for him. Zorro leaves. Huerta arrives and tells his men to search the area. When Hortensia tells him that her parents aren't home, he decides to stay for a while. After Hortensia rejects Huerta's marriage proposal, he forcefully kisses her. At this, Zorro re-appears and (in a scene straight from McCulley's original story) forces Huerta to get on his knees and beg Hortensia's forgiveness. Huerta leaves in a huff, and Zorro and Hortensia share a romantic moment.
Aunt Carmen has decided to return to Spain (taking a fortune in jewels with her), escorted by Kapitan von Markel. Zorro and Joaquin, knowing that Huerta will certainly have his men rob the party in the guise of bandits, secretly follow. When the party makes camp for the night, the "bandits" attack, but von Markel (with some secret help from Zorro and Joaquin) fights back and drives them off, exciting the admiration (and passion!) of Carmen. The "bandits" escape with the treasure, but Zorro catches up with them and steals the jewels back.
Diego begins an elaborate scheme, first with a scroll note from the dog, then a ransacked dining room marked with Z's, to make it appear that Zorro is plotting to kill the Governor. After "de la Serna" takes to his bed in fear, Huerta informs Diego that he has the perfect plan to capture Zorro. He says his men will capture Hortensia, lock her in a cage and cart her around the plaza until Zorro comes to rescue her. Soldiers will be everywhere, so Zorro cannot escape. Zorro outwits them by going straight to Hortensia's cell at the prison and waiting for her to arrive. He rescues Hortensia, and stays behind to distract the guards. Zorro escapes, and overhears Huerta and Garcia. Huerta says that only one other person knew of the plan. He rides off to the governor's mansion, and Zorro manages to get back just before Huerta arrives. Huerta and Diego argue a bit about Zorro, and it is clear that Huerta is suspicious. Diego then offers himself to be bait for Zorro.
The next day, Diego and Garcia go on a fishing trip. Soldiers are surrounding the area. Joaquin shows up as Zorro, and almost all the soldiers follow him. Eluding the soldiers, Joaquin rides to Brother Francisco's mission. Brother Francisco informs the children of Zorro's plan, and sends them out to different areas dressed as Zorro as distractions to the soldiers. Diego pretends to go to the carriage for a nap, but reappears as the real Zorro, telling Garcia he has the governor at gunpoint, and will "wring his neck and have him stuffed and fed to the dog" if Garcia doesn't do what he tells him.
Garcia, with Zorro, arrives at a mine run by forced slave labor. He orders the guards to release them all, or else Zorro will kill the Governor. With Brother Francisco's help, the slaves are freed, and Zorro tells Garcia to leave. Hortensia arrives and tells Zorro that Huerta and the soldiers are coming. When Zorro leaves with the carriage, Hortensia holds onto the back to ride with him.
Huerta and his men give chase. Zorro stops the carriage long enough to order Hortensia to leave, saying that the people need her. He kisses her, Hortensia leaves, and then Zorro drives the carriage off a cliff into the ocean. Hortensia looks over in disbelief, and Huerta arrives. Huerta says that now Nuova Aragon will have a new governor (himself) and Hortensia, if her parents know what's best for them, will have a husband.
On the day of the wedding, Brother Francisco and civilians arrive at the church in protest. Huerta orders the guards to arrest him, but they are reluctant to do so. To everyone's surprise (except Chico), Zorro reappears unharmed. He battles soldiers on the roof of the church, while on the ground Kapitan von Markel assists the angry crowd in handling the soldiers. Huerta grabs a soldier's pistol and shoots Brother Francisco at point-blank range, killing him and causing a riot to break out. Huerta's armed soldiers settle the riot down, and Zorro, feeling that Brother Francisco's murder has released him from his promise to Miguel de la Serna, begins a final showdown and duel to the death with Huerta. The fight goes on for many minutes, going from the doorstep of the church to the inside. During the duel Zorro repeats Huerta's trick with the candles, only better—splitting one in half. Later on, Zorro falls out through a stained glass window and Huerta believes Zorro is dead. However, Zorro reappears in the darkness of the bell tower and the fight continues. In the meantime, the dog Assassin prevents Garcia from interfering, causing the fat sergeant to back into and fall down a well. On the roof, Huerta says that either he or Zorro must die. Zorro then says, "Well then...let it be the moment of truth." and unmasks himself. In a simultaneous lunge, Diego kills Huerta, causing him to fall from the roof. The crowd looks on stunned, then bursts into applause. Zorro then appears in a valley on his horse, and in romantic fashion, rides off. The tyrant is dead. Justice has triumphed. Long live Zorro!
|Diego de la Vega/Zorro||Alain Delon|
|Colonel Huerta||Stanley Baker|
|Hortensia Pulido||Ottavia Piccolo|
|Miguel Vega de la Serna||Marino Masé|
|Kapitän Fritz von Markel||Giacomo Rossi-Stuart|
- The original French version of the film runs for over two hours. However, the American version runs only ninety minutes, cutting out many of the explanatory scenes.
- This movie inspired Ilya Salkind, to make a motion picture about a superhero. That movie turned out to be Superman (1978).
- This movie was one of the first several modern Western movies introduced into China in 1978 after the Cultural Revolution. More than 70,000,000 people went to theaters to watch it.
- Some of the interiors (Alain Delon's residence) were filmed in the Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, Spain.