The Mark of Zorro (1940 film)

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The Mark of Zorro
Mark of Zorro 1940.jpg
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
Spanish
Budget $1 million[1]
Box office $2 million (rentals)[2]

The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American black-and-white adventure film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone.

The Mark of Zorro was nominated for an Academy Award for Best original score. It was named to the National Film Registry in 2009 by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant", and to be preserved for all time.[3]

The film is based on The Curse of Capistrano written by Johnston McCulley, originally published in 1919 in five serialized installments in All-Story Weekly.,[4] which introduced the masked hero Zorro; the story is set in Southern California during the early 19th century. After the enormous success of the silent 1920 film adaptation, The Mark of Zorro, the story was republished under that name by Grosset & Dunlap.

Plot[edit]

Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) is urgently called home by his father. To all outward appearances, he is the foppish son of wealthy ranchero and former Alcade Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), having returned to California after his military education in Spain. Don Diego is horrified at the way the common people are mistreated by the corrupt Alcalde, Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), who had forced his father from the position. Don Diego then adopts the guise of El Zorro ("The Fox"), a masked outlaw, who becomes the defender of the common people and a champion for justice. Meanwhile, he romances the Alcalde's beautiful and innocent niece, Lolita (Linda Darnell), whom he grows to love. As part of his plan, Don Diego 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 must contend with the governor's ablest henchman, the malevolent Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). He eventually dispatches the Captain in a fast-moving rapier duel-to-the-death, forcing a regime change, Don Diego's plan all along.

Cast[edit]

1920 silent version[edit]

The Mark of Zorro is a sound remake of the lavish 1920 smash hit silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Noah Beery, Sr.. That 1920 feature introduced Zorro's iconic all-black costume, subsequently incorporated into Johnston McCulley's later Zorro fiction series. The 1920 original was the first in a popular array of swashbuckler action features 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 that the young Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents at a 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,[5]

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 Mark of Zorro has been released twice on DVD. The first was on October 7, 2003 and featured the film 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, featuring both a newly restored black-and-white version and a colorized version, prepared by Legend Films. Both contain the short film "Tyrone Power: The Last Idol" as seen on Biography on the A&E Network, with a commentary by film critic Richard Schickel.

References[edit]

  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. ^ All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 9, 1919) - vol. 101 #2 (September 6, 1919)
  5. ^ "Batman v Superman" Set Pic Sets Stage for Wayne Murders - Comic Book Resources

External links[edit]