Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

June 10, 2011

56. The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Pallette

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Plot: “A young aristocrat must masquerade as a fop in order to maintain his secret identity of Zorro as he restores justice to early California.” (from IMDb)

I feel like I need to watch this again because I was kind of distracted/doing other things when it was on. Plus, sometimes I space out a little in the duels and such. But what I did see, I thought was awesome.

Not a big fan of the mustache on Tyrone… (he looks so much better without it)

I love the story of Zorro and the setting of the film, and I thought the two leads--Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power--had terrific chemistry. I especially think Darnell is very underrated (granted, this isn’t her showiest role, but it’s still hard for me to believe that she only 17 when this was released…and probably younger when it was filmed).

There, that’s better. No more mustache now.

Though this is sort of a Spanish-American twist on Robin Hood, it's almost more fun because no one knows who this elusive Zorro is. The secret of his identity adds some delightful suspense, and there is also some humor in what a milquetoast he pretends to be when not in disguise (it's kind of the Clark Kent/Superman thing). Because of the fun of this plot element, I was kind of sad when he his identity was unveiled. It was sort of a let-down.

                         Basil Rathbone is such a great villain.

There are some great supporting players here, too—the always reliably chilly Gale Sondergaard, husky-voiced Eugene Pallette, and devious Basil Rathbone (the fencing between him and Power is fun to see).

Two experts (I’ve heard…I don’t know anything about fencing!) showing how it’s done.

                            Zorro leaves his calling card.

When he’s not ‘Zorro’, Don Diego Vega pretends (hilariously) to be cowardly and delicate.

                                            Loved this scene!

This movie is classic, and it's also just great fun. I do wonder why they didn't film this one in Technicolor, though. Don't get me wrong, I love black and white movies and rarely do I wish they were in color, but I just thought the nature of this film would benefit from some beautiful '40s Technicolor cinematography. What do you think? Would it be better in color or not? I guess the contrast of light and shadow/darkness,etc. does benefit the story some. Maybe I'll have to watch it again and reassess...


  1. Great post, Audrey!

    I love that movie! There is a "dyed" version of this film - and it is great. (yeah - someone here owns the Special Edition DVD.. ahem..) 

    I think Linda Darnell is soo pretty in this - and Basil Rathbone is just awesome. I love the whole cast. It's great.

    Thank you for spotlighting this film - which I want to rewatch right now.. ;")

  2. I confess that I actually watched the colorized version (not to scandalize
    anyone, lol). If it was just me I probably would've watched the b&w but my
    brothers wanted to watch the 'dyed' version, as you say. It wasn't half bad
    but it did have that funny look--the texture, depth, and shadows were
    obviously off. I think I'm going to re-watch the film in black and white and

    It IS a great cast, isn't it?

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. I love the B&W photography in Zorro and wouldn't change it. It looks especially great in the chapel scene.

    I must be a sucker for heroes who selflessly defend the weak while still keeping a sense of humor because I'm nuts about Robin Hood, Zorro, and Percy Blakeney (from The Scarlet Pimpernel - another movie you should definitely check out if you like this sort of movie, too - Leslie Howard is amazing).

    Nice review, Audrey!

  4. Oh, I haven't seen The Scarlet Pimpernel. I'll definitely have to do so!

  5. I love this movie until the end of time.

    And yes, Ty's mustache is quite unnecessary. haha

    I love the scenes between Basil and Tyrone most of all, I think. They are so brilliant. And Basil Rathbone (one of the great Hollywood swordsman) always said that Ty could have fenced Errol Flynn into a hat -- that's how good he was. It's always more fun to watch an actor ACTUALLY doing whatever they are doing!

    Great post!

  6. I totally agree, Millie! It's great to see skilled fencers actually FENCE!


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