Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

Today is a marvelous day. I'm on vacation (it's my birthday tomorrow). I got to sleep in this morning, I'm listening to Manon Lescaut, and I have two loaves of homemade Italian bread rising and a mini-pot (personal size!) of homemade spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Unfortunately, neither will be ready to actually eat for a few more hours, but they look and smell fabulous!

I also got to watch The Mark of Zorro for a second time. Amazingly enough, I don't believe I'd ever seen the movie before now. I loved it! A fine version of the Zorro tale. Tyrone Power makes an excellent Diego/Zorro. He can turn his two characters off and on as needed. I particularly liked when he first returns home to California. He gets more and more frustrated and angry with what he's hearing about the supposed behavior of his father... and then he finds out who's really behind the people's woes. You can see him absorb the situation quickly and astutely and immediately retreat from man of action into a disguise that won't alarm the new government. Self-protection and a new game to play, all rolled into one.

A game it definitely is. He's freshly come from Spain, where life had been a series of training, duels, and trysts. He expects California to be boring... and to his delight finds it's anything but. This Diego comes alive when he realizes there's something for him to do with all his training after all. He seems to relish deceiving everyone as a fop as much as he enjoys the action and results of being Zorro.

There's great supporting cast, from the lovely Linda Darnell as his love interest, to Eugene Pallette, to Gale Sondergaard with her deliciously wicked smile. She's actually not evil for once, merely selfish and self-centered. Basil Rathbone plays Captain Pasquale. He's always toying with his sword, and you just can't wait for him and Tyrone to have at it. Most of the best scenes are between the two. Diego deliberately baits the captain any chance he can get. And Pasquale alternates between sneering at the "weak" Diego but still getting insulted. It's great fun. My only regret is that the big fight between the two happens a little earlier than I expected, and that removes the only real threat.

All in all, a great romp. Zorro is one of those characters I never tire of watching.


  1. Aww, I love Zorro!

    Tyrone Power is the absolute best ever at it, IMO!

    It's a delightful film! It always just makes me feel happy!

    And the dialogue is amazing...especially between Ty and Basil!

    And I think Tyrone being "weak" is hilarious!

  2. P.S. I just love all your recent posts on Tyrone Power!

  3. One of the best! We love this movie. The kids love it too.

  4. One of my favorite Tyrone Power films, the others being Nightmare Alley, Blood & Sand, Love is News, The Rains Came, The Razor's Edge, and This Above All.

    He was highly underrated. I think he was the definitive Zorro. This film was shown last November as part of a tribute to him at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, and the audience loved it.

    Love Tyrone - love Zorro.

  5. I wish you a happy belated birthday.

    I love this film and it's probably my favourite Ty film.