Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Mark of Zorro/Don Q Son of Zorro|
Actors: Enrique Acosta, Mary Astor, Juliette Belanger, George Blankman, Charles Byer
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Classics
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 02/03/2004 Run time: 218 minutes
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Fairbanks - King of the Action Stars
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 08/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If anyone doubts the temporal quality of fame, just think of Douglas Fairbanks to bring the point home. In his day, Douglas Fairbanks' fame was unprecedented. He and his wife, Mary Pickford, were thought of as America's royal family. Today, his marvelous action films are not watched save by film enthusiasts, and his face and name are lost to the youngest generation (if Jay Leno's "man on the street" interviews are any indication, our youngest Americans seem proud not to know the name of the Vice President, much less a silent screen actor like Fairbanks).
That Douglas Fairbanks should fade from memory is tremendously sad. "The Mark of Zorro" is a good example of the kind of film Fairbanks specialized in toward the end of the silent era, and were hugely popular because of the dynamic presence of its star.
There really has been nothing to compare with Fairbanks since his departure from films. No action star since can come close to his grace and power in an action film. If you doubt me, buy this DVD and see for yourself. Watch Fairbanks leap over tables, vault over chest-high walls to mount a horse, leap from a table top to a cornice near a ceiling, etc. And it was not just that he was able to do these feats, it is that he did them effortlessly. The sheer grace of the man was truly thrilling. He never seemed to strain for anything. I realized this while watching the Mark of Zorro during one scene when Fairbanks swings a leg up and dismounts a running horse, in full gallop, to land on his feet as easily as though he were stepping off the ladder. He made it look so easy, I went back and watched the scene again to make sure I had seen what I thought I saw. Yep, he had done it - smooth as silk.
Then there is his acting. In this film, Fairbanks plays a duel role: Don Diego, a foppish young noble, and his masked counterpart, Zorro. His portrayal of Don Diego is subtle and effective. His body seems shapeless and soft. His manner is distracted and indecisive and vaguely lost. He detests swordplay and is constantly wiping his face due to his great "fatigue." When his love interest declares "He is not a man - he is a fish!" she hits the nail on the head. Yet when he dons the mask, his body and manner are reborn. His body looks lithe and full of movement, and his smile, that tremendous, beaming smile that radiated pure happiness, is almost as devastating as his blade.
Finally, there is the art design and sets of this film. Fairbanks loved these period pieces, and he spared no expense on research and detail. His care, financial investment, and dedication to craft really show. Everything has a beautiful, "deep" feel.
As a side note, this review is based on the Kino DVD release of this film, and as with all the Kino releases, this edition looks simply great. God Bless Kino for being one of the best companies preserving and marketing silent films.
If you have bothered to read this review, please buy this film. If you do, Douglas Fairbanks will be popular and famous again, at least in your heart.
DON'T EVEN HESITATE!!!
Gregg Taylor | Branchville, NJ United States | 07/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I'd just seen "Mark of Zorro" on TCM (for their Silent Sunday), I ordered this DVD to add to my collection of silent gems...and GEMS they ARE!! The print of "Zorro" is somewhat better than TCM...this is DVD, after all...excellent piano score by Jon C. Mirsalis (as is for the second feature). Not too many flaws...VERY few scratches, and such. A mighty fine print. (Approx. 1hr. 45 min.)
As for "Don Q," the wonderful folks at KINO have not only offered what appears to be the finest print available... some scratches, yeah--but wonderfully color-tinted and a superb piano score, but they've cropped the titles and even INTER-titles!!--since the original film-frame falls somehat short of our 1.33:1 TV sets. There are some more noticeable scrathces in the original film element, but it does NOT distract!! "Don Q" offers a storyline that doesn't categorize itself as a "Swashbuckling Tale"--simply because it isn't!!--It's even better, and will keep those who haven't seen it, glued to the television! (Approx. run time: 1 hour, 50 min.)
As an extra, we see Orson Welles introduce "Mark" for PBS's "The Silent Years," complete with earlier glimpses of Doug Sr., and a SOUND clip from a 1931 talkie of his! enjoy nearly 4+ hours of one of the greatest box-office stars of the Silent Era!!"
Fairbanks in Fine Form
Robert M. Fells | Centreville, VA USA | 08/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although Kino makes no boast about print quality on the box, its print of MARK OF ZORRO seems to be from an excellent 35 mm source. This film is the first, and many say the best, of Doug Fairbanks' swashbucklers that he personally financed and produced during the 1920s. His subsequent films were more elaborate - he seemed to rival DeMille in epic production quality - but ZORRO is the most consistently energetic. Fairbanks remains in a class by himself as a superstar and he became a multi-millionaire by acting out his daydreams in films. That's nice work if you can get it!DON Q, SON OF ZORRO is almost as good but bogs down here and there in story complications. The print quality and contrast is not as good as ZORRO and I suspect that DON Q comes from a 16 mm. print. The five years between the two films show Fairbanks' reputation as a producer having grown: DON Q looks as though it costs four times what MARK OF ZORRO cost. Jon Mirsalis' piano score is very qood and he captures everything that silent film accompaniment should be: melodic and never intrusive. The bonus material is interesting but I wonder why KINO didn't include the five minutes or so of outtakes from DON Q that has been in circulation for years. The unidentified sound film excerpt of Fairbanks included with Orson Welles' introduction is from the 1931 talkie, REACHING FOR THE MOON. Even in the excerpt, Fairbanks seems rather constrained by the dialogue chores. When he enters a room by vaulting through the window, he lands with a "thump," showing why sound films would rob Fairbanks of the illusion of effortless agility so wonderfully masked in his silent films. Three chapters from his 1918 motivational book, Making Life Worthwhile, are included. Some say the book and others published during that time were ghostwritten for Fairbanks. In any event, I've wondered why he had nothing to say to the public during the years of the Great Depression in the 1930s when people really needed a boost.I highly recommend this dvd as a superb example of energetic silent filmmaking and for the joy of experiencing the inimitable Doug Fairbanks personality."
An excellent double feature
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 12/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As always, Kino has put out a marvelous DVD, this time featuring not just one but two classics. First up is 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920), the very first screen version of this famous oft-told tale of the masked bandit who fights injustice and the oppressors of the people in 19th century Spanish California. This film is special to me because it was the first Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., film I ever saw, though while it did make me want to see more of him, it didn't instantly make him into one of my favorite actors. However, he is very good in his dual role as both the athletic brash romantic brave Zorro and the shy Don Diego, who is a disgrace to his father because ever since he got back from school in Spain he spends more time doing tricks with handkerchiefs and idling around than trying to find a wife or solidify his place in society. As Zorro, he is capable of fighting the bad guys and romancing Lolita Pulido, the young lady his father wants him to marry, as though putting on the mask empowers him to do things that he wouldn't dream of doing as Don Diego. And as much as I normally dislike that old convention of the damsel in distress having to be saved by a man, even considering the era, what hotblooded heterosexual woman wouldn't want to be rescued by a nice drink of water like Doug? The ending is also really cute. As good as this film is, however, it does seem a bit chatty for a silent (not really necessary because of all of the great action sequences!), and it is a bit slow-moving at times, although one must consider that 1920 was sort of a transitional time for films. They were in the process of moving away from the conventions of the Teens and into the more subtle acting and more-developed plots that had come into prominence by about 1922 or so.
The second film, 'Don Q, Son of Zorro' (1925), while a sequel, is one of those sequels that can really stand on its own and make perfect sense without having seen the first installment. It's entirely its own story with its own new plot; the only recurring character is old Zorro, 30 years after the first film ended, though even he isn't the main character in this and doesn't have that much screen time. There's one flashback to the original film and that's about it in the way of relevant backstory. Once more he plays a dual role, as both Don Diego and his son (much like the dual role played by Rudy Valentino in 'The Son of the Sheik'). This film seems better-crafted and technically superior to the first, not least because the budget appears to have been bigger. The sets and costumes are gorgeous, and the plot is more complex, with more twists and turns. Doug's sister-in-law Lottie Pickford also has a fairly substantial role as Lola, one of his two faithful servants. Like his father before him, now Don Cesar de Vega too is away at school in Spain, and has gained quite some renown for his skill with the whip. This skill brings him to the attention of the queen, who invites him to a party at the palace, where he also makes the acquaintance of the queen's visiting cousin Archduke Paul of Austria. Cesar finds himself the target of Sebastian, one of the royal guards, because they both love the same woman, the lovely Dolores. The evil Sebastian succeeds in framing Cesar for murder, and the only person who knows Sebastian's secret, Don Fabrique Borusta, is threatened into silence. Cesar fakes his own death and goes into hiding at the ruins of his family's ancestral castle, where, together with his servants Lola and Robledo, he plots his revenge and concocts a plan to expose Sebastian for who he really is and to get the vital piece of evidence that will prove his innocence. Along the way, his father finds out about what's going on and sets out for Spain to help, reprising his role as Zorro. There's even more action and adventure in this picture than in the original, and the ending also hearkens back to the ending in the original. This was the film that really solidified Fairbanks as one of my favorite male actors.
The extras are a brief clip from the newsreel 'Fairbanks vs. Dempsey,' a home movie shot near his offices at United Artists, three entire chapters from a book he wrote in 1918, 'Making Life Worthwhile,' and an introduction to 'The Mark of Zorro' by Orson Welles. This lattermost extra includes clips from some of Doug's earlier films, with the special bonus of including a clip from his 1930 talkie 'Reaching for the Moon.' This was a real treat for me because I'd never heard his voice before. I would have expected a deeper voice, but he had a pleasant speaking voice regardless.
Overall, it's a great set, with two fantastic costume action-adventure pictures. They're but two great examples of how Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., was swashbuckling personified. This man was constantly in motion, barely staying still for a second, and doing these stunts with such ease and agility. Purists will complain that the print for 'Don Q' is a bit scratchy, but it's not like it's anywhere near unwatchable or distracting. Anyone who loves such old films should frankly be used to not always having pristine prints, instead of elevating the matter to such great importance, as though one's main concern is that the print actually shows its age and isn't as crystal-clear as other silent DVDs are, not how awesome the film is and how lucky we are that just about all of Doug's films are still with us, in comparison to the poor survival rate for many other silents. The scores for both films are also wonderful; I ordinarily prefer a score that has more than just a piano, but the instrument is used very well here and doesn't sound boring or monotonous."