When they say they don't make 'em like they used to, they're talking about 20th Century Fox's exhilarating The Mark of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power as the caped one, Linda Darnell as his love interest, and Basil Rathbone ... more »at his scurrilous best as Zorro's nemesis. More textured than the 1920 original with Douglas Fairbanks, this 1940 version has Don Diego/Zorro (Powers) returning from Madrid to defend his father and rally the caballeros (noblemen) against Los Angeles's corrupt new governor (J. Edward Bromberg), intent on taxing the peons to death. If this all sounds like an Old California redo of the classic Adventures of Robin Hood, that's because it is. Powers has a field day as Don Diego, the "fancy clown" betrothed to the governor's niece, Lolita (Darnell). Don Diego the effete snob performs silly parlor tricks, peers through pince-nez, and yawns disdainfully at one and all. Power's cowardly alter ego is so believable, his transformation to masked superhero becomes all the more thrilling. Imagine Captain Pasquale's (Rathbone) shock when, in the film's brilliantly choreographed showdown, this annoying fop turns out to be a world-class swordsman. Director Rouben Mamoulian, known for great period melodramas, does a skillful job of alternating garrison intrigue with big action scenes, including a nighttime ride that climaxes with Zorro on horseback leaping off a bridge. In the romantic highlight, Lolita confides her innermost desires to a suspiciously worldly friar. The first-rate supporting cast includes Gale Sondergaard as the governor's treacherous wife and the frog-voiced Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood) as a padre in cahoots with the masked one. Technically, this retelling rates an unqualified "Wow!" The cinematography, obviously influenced by Goya, makes full use of chiaroscuro shadows, and Alfred Newman's Latin-flavored score is irresistibly rousing and romantic. --Glenn Lovell« less
"This is arguably the best film version of Johnston McCulley's costumed swordfighter of old California, beating out both the 1920s Douglas Fairbanks film and the recent Banderas/Hopkins blockbuster (although both are good films in their own rights). What this film has is Golden Age Hollywood style in spades: glamourous photography, music, and star power. It has less action than you might expect, and Tyrone Power actually spends very little time in the Zorro costume -- he's in his 'civilian' duds for the whole finale. But the film is such good-natured fun and director Mamoulian has such a solid handle on the material that it hardly matters. The romance and comedy are also well executed and finely balanced with the physical action. Speaking of action, the big duel between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone is a stunner, an amazing piece of combat choreography. As a bonus, Fox Home Video has mixed the film in stereo; very rare for a film of the period. The disc also has a 45 minute episode of "Biography" about Tyrone Power. It spends only a minute on THE MARK OF ZORRO, but it does show a priceless outtake of Power dressed in the Zorro costume making fun of studio boss Darryl Zanuck. Even if you don't watch the whole documentary, make sure you speed through it to catch this riotous old Hollywood prank."
Movies - and Ty Power - don't get better than this!
Bigthumb | AUSTIN, TX USA | 03/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful faces, gorgeous b&w photography, an array of old Hollywood's best character actors, brawling and tumultous fight scenes, probably the best sword fight ever filmed, and a rousing musical score that must have sent people almost dancing out of theaters with big smiles on their faces in 1940 - and will still make you smile in your living room. And dialogue laced with wit and humor as well as drama. Now THIS is what a Hollywood action movie should be! This is one of the all-time best. Got the blues? This ought to chase them right away. Really got the blues? Try a double-feature of this with Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood. And you can keep all the Wars and Treks in the stars. They are made by mere children as compared to these old pros.Why doesn't Tyrone Power have a cult of his own today? He was handsome and versatile, and a good actor whose performances hold up better than many of his competitors'. Ty Power's the Man!"
Classic Zorro , Tyrone Power's finest moment
Simon Davis | 10/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Classic is the one word that I could truly use to properly describe Twentieth Century Fox's 1940 version of "The Mark Of Zorro". Forget all the previous versions and certainly the latest remake with Antonio Banderas, this is the supreme version in regard to storytelling, casting, sets, excitement and unforgettable sword play. It boasts Tyrone Power's finest performance by far in my opinion and it also contains one of the most exciting and dramatically staged sword fights in the history of film swashbucklers (with the possible exception of Errol Flynn's duel with Basil Rathbone in "The Adventures of Robin Hood")."The Mark Of Zorro" directed by veteran director Rouben Mamoulian, is old fashioned movie making at its very best. It contains an exciting storyline with frequent dashes of daring action sequences, excellent sword play, a tender romance between Tyrone and the very beautiful Linda Darnelland a sweeping, energetic musical score which is just right for this production.Tyrone Power scored a great personal triumph in this role of the effeminate Don Diego de Vega by day, and the dashing and daring Zorro by night. It is the role which really became his trademark performance much as "Gone With The Wind" is for Clark Gable. Forever after Zorro has been identified as possibly his greatest role and the character he was most identified with. By 1940 Tyrone Power had reached his Box Office peak with a string of huge Box Office successes like "In Old Chicago" "Marie Antoinette", "Suez", "Jesse James", "Rose of Washington Square" and "Johnny Apollo". Zorro was the role of a life time and came along also just as his extraordinary good looks had matured enough to make him totally convincing as the fop by day and dashing bringer of justice by night. It is a performance filled with a vital energy, dashing spirit and the right element of tongue in cheek bravado.The production of "The Mark Of Zorro" was one of Twentieth Century Fox's biggest productions of the year. The attention to detail in sets and importantly in costumne is immaculate and really recreates that feeling of old California of the nineteenth century. The film benefits greatly from the superb supporting cast without which any film of this size would be lost. The beautiful Linda Darnell was only starting to come into prominence at this time and she makes a very effective love interest for Tyrone here in the role of Lolita. Her role might be really window dressing but she is most effective in her brief scenes. The wonderful Basil Rathbone, swordsman extraordinaire, is superb as always as the corrupt and cruel Captain Pasquale and he brings the right elements of menace and slippery sophistication to his role to turn in another stunning performance much like his performance of two years before in
"The Adventures Of Robin Hood" . Equally villianous and equally delightful in the cast line up are Gale Sondergaard, arch villianess of many films, and J. Edward Bromberg as the cowardly but corrupt governor Don Luis Quintero and his vain wife Inez . They are excellent in their scenes and Bromberg in particular has a field day with his very amusing role as the ruthless replacement governor who is bleeding the local peasants dry in taxation but is a coward afraid of his own shadow. His scenes are very amusing where he is reduced to a blubbering mass of fears during Zorro's nocturnal visits to his headquarters and proves to be no match for the daring Zorro who always manages to leave his signature "Z" in conspicious places.I cannot recommend "The Mark Of Zorro" highly enough and if for nothing else it is worth seeing for the superb fencing sequence between Power and Rathbone which is a classic of its kind and one of the most memorable dueling sequences ever put on film. Some individuals believe it's a pity that the photography is in black and white but I personally feel it suits the story well and never have Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell looked more attractive than in this production. Enjoy "The Mark Of Zorro" as the high spirited entertainment that it is and as a tribute to the mastery that was Hollywood film making in its Golden Age. Films really don't come better than the 1940 version of "The Mark Of Zorro""
Stunning in Color AND Black and White!
Everyone's Pal | 10/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Mark of Zorro is one of my all time favorites, and it is a movie that needs nothing to improve it. Classic swashbuckling adventure set in old California. And the black-and-white version that is on this DVD is a treat to watch--pristine in every way. It was with some trepidation that I put on the new color version. What had they done to my dear Tyrone Power? Yet when I viewed the new color version, I felt that I was getting to experience the beauty of the motion picture in a whole new and different way. It brought out detail that I had not seen before. The colorization process is light years ahead of any I have seen previously, and for awhile I forgot this was ever in black-and-white to begin with. It really breathes new life into this classic. I admit I watched the whole movie again! What a treat to be able to enjoy this movie in a new way. Great idea, and great special edition. Highly recommend!"
Golden Age Adventure Classic
Simon | Brampton, ON | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first caught The Mark of Zorro (both the Tyrone Power and Douglas Fairbanks versions) on TV a few years ago during the hype for the Mask of Zorro movie, and immediately fell in love with them. While I've been raised on modern Hollywood cinema, these were movies that still held great appeal for me. Specifically for the Tyrone Power version, we get a quick, witty adventure with fantastic swordfights and great chemistry between Power and Linda Darnell. The whole production charms in that golden age Hollywood way, without suffering from the cheesiness that people usually associate with older flicks. It's one of my favourite movies.
About the DVD: While I'm a film purist in that "widescreen is better than foolscreen" kinda way, I must admit I found some novelty value in the colourized version we get here. I'm not familiar with the process, so maybe that's why I'm impressed by what I see. The colours aren't as rich as they would be if the movie was filmed in colour, but they do give me a new perspective on what the costumes and set design could've looked like (not sure if Fox dug into the vaults to find the original colours, or just came up with their own). Plus, as long as studios continue to offer the original black and white versions as Fox has done here, I can't find fault with them. The set also comes with 6 reprints of photos from the movie set, which are a nice bonus.
I got this disc dirt cheap, and it's more entertaining than most films these days. Definitely worth the purchase for any movie fan."