Zorro's Fighting Legion
|Zorro's Fighting Legion|
|Directed by||William Witney
|Produced by||Hiram S. Brown Jr|
|Written by||Ronald Davidson
Barney A. Sarecky
Johnston McCulley (Original Zorro Novel)
Leander De Cordova
C. Montague Shaw
|Distributed by||Republic Pictures|
|12 chapters (211 minutes) (serial)
6 26½-minute episodes (TV)
|Budget||$137,826 (negative cost: $144,419)|
Zorro's Fighting Legion is a 1939 Republic Pictures film serial consisting of twelve chapters starring Reed Hadley as Zorro and directed by William Witney and John English. The plot revolves around his alter-ego Don Diego's fight against the evil Don Del Oro.
A trademark of this serial is the sudden demise of at least one native informant in each episode. The direction was identical for each informant's death, creating a source of unintentional humor: each informant, upon uttering the phrase, "Don Del Oro is...", is shot by a golden arrow and dies before being able to name the villain's alter ego. The serial is also unusual in featuring a real historical personage, Mexican President Benito Juárez, as a minor character. It is the second in a series of five Zorro serials: Zorro Rides Again (1937), Zorro's Black Whip (1944), Son of Zorro (1947) and Ghost of Zorro (1949).
The mysterious Don Del Oro ("Lord of Gold"), an idol of the Yaqui Indians, has emerged and attacks the gold trade of the Republic of Mexico, planning to take over the land and become Emperor. A man named Francisco is put in charge of a fighting legion to combat the Yaqui tribe and protect the gold, but he is attacked by men working for Don Del Oro. Zorro comes to his rescue, but it is too late for him. Francisco's partner recognizes Zorro as the hidalgo Don Diego Vega. Francisco asks Diego, as Zorro, to take over the fighting legion and defeat Don Del Oro.
Though there were numerous Zorro serials, Hadley was the only actor to play the original Zorro in any of them.
- Sheila Darcy as Volita
- William Corson as Ramón
- Leander De Cordova as Governor Felipe
- Edmund Cobb as Manuel González
- John Merton as Comandante Manuel
- C. Montague Shaw as Chief Justice Pablo/ Don Del Oro
- Budd Buster as Juan
- Carleton Young as Benito Juárez
- Bud Geary as Don Del Oro (body and voice)
Zorro's Fighting Legion was budgeted at $137,826, although the final negative cost was $144,419 (a $6,593, or 4.8%, overspend). It was filmed between 15 September and 14 October 1939 under the working title Return of Zorro. The serial's production number was 898.
Zorro's Fighting Legion's official release date is 16 December 1939, although this is actually the date the sixth chapter was made available to film exchanges. The serial was re-released on 24 March 1958, making it the last serial released by Republic, which re-released serials for several years following the release of their final serial King of the Carnival in 1955.
In the early 1950s, Zorro's Fighting Legion was one of fourteen Republic serials edited into a television series. It was broadcast in six 26½-minute episodes.
- The Golden God (27 min 38s)
- The Flaming "Z" (16 min 41s)
- Descending Doom (16 min 41s)
- The Bridge of Peril (16 min 40s)
- The Decoy (16 min 39s)
- Zorro to the Rescue (16 min 40s)
- The Fugitive (16 min 41s)
- Flowing Death (16 min 41s)
- The Golden Arrow (16 min 39s) – Re-Cap Chapter
- Mystery Wagon (16 min 40s)
- Face to Face (16 min 40s)
- Unmasked (16 min 41s)
Differences from the Zorro canon
The story takes a few liberties with Zorro's official timeline: it takes place in Mexico instead of Alta California; Zorro wears a masquerade mask, rather than the traditional bandana; the characters Don Alejandro Vega (Don Diego's father) and Bernardo are absent; and Zorro's horse, Tornado, was changed to white (much like Kaiketsu Zorro). However, this story is presented as a further adventure of Zorro, a sequel to the traditional "Mark of Zorro" origin story originally starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery, Sr., which would be remade the year after Zorro's Fighting Legion with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone: Don Diego is said to be visiting from Los Angeles, and the serial intentionally did not remake the Zorro story; instead, it shows Zorro visiting Mexico because his help is needed there. The people of Mexico immediately recognize Zorro when he first appears, strongly suggesting that Zorro is a well-known hero.
The date given for the movie is 1824, which in and of itself establishes that it takes place well after Zorro's California adventures: Zorro opposed a corrupt Spanish Colonial government in his canon tales, and California ceased being a Spanish Colony in 1821.
- Mathis, Jack (1995). Valley of the Cliffhangers Supplement. Jack Mathis Advertising. pp. 3, 10, 42–43. ISBN 0-9632878-1-8.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 76. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 226. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
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- Zorro's Fighting Legion at the Internet Movie Database
- Zorro's Fighting Legion at AllMovie
- Zorro's Fighting Legion at Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience
- Stomp Tokyo Review of Zorro's Fighting Legion
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