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  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
    French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, German - Hearing Impaired

    The Mark of Zorro

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . B&W . 90 mins . G . PAL


    Swashbuckling was almost an artform in the day this picture was made. Here Tyrone Power, forever among the high kings of the swashbuckle, does an effective justice to a character who has surely not seen his last movie adaptation.

    Diego Vega is a bored and wealthy soldier son of an aristocrat who is currently running California from a small place called Los Angeles. When Diego, an accomplished swordsman, arrives from Madrid he finds his father no longer in charge, but one Don Luis Quintero running the show. This bad man has upped taxes to the point of starving his constituents and runs the place by brutal force. Well, Diego thinks this shit ain’t right, but feigning the air of a dandy, does nothing but agree with the unrighteous.

    "My dear Esteban is forever thrusting at this and that…"

    Later that day…

    A mysterious fellow named Zorro proclaims himself kickarse vigilante of the reason with one goal: ousting Don Luis. Meanwhile, Diego is betrothed with Don Luis’ daughter and they are to be married (against her wishes until she learns his secret). However, Zorro gets sloppy and leaves a clue that gives away his identity and he is imprisoned and exposed. Whatever is a poor sadistic vigilante to do?

    Well, what else, I ask you?

    This is a film firmly ensconced in the time it was made and the era’s working conditions of Hollywood. There sure aren’t many Spanish or Mexicans playing any of the major roles within this 1940 classic. That aside, the film is naturally a good clean fight. No blood flows unstoppered here… although there is a tragedy in a cellar when all the vats of wine are emptying into the dirt. Oh, the horror!

    Everything is all very exciting and the cast contains two swashbucklers from another classic swashbuckling affair, Robin Hood. The guy who plays Friar Tuck in that also plays a monk here while perennial bad guy Basil Rathbone plays the evil Captain Esteban Pasquale – an ex-fencing instructor who likes to thrust everything in sight (see quote above). One thing in their favour though; the actors do all their own fencing scenes and this is rough stuff and fast! There’s no pausing for breath even; they just slash and hack at each other until one guy takes a length of steel in the gut and drops dead. No brave last words, no heroic clutching of riches to the chest, nuthin’. Dead, just like that. Hollywood of today could learn a lesson here…

    Anyhow if there’s anyone reading this who was alive when this puppy hit screens you’ll immediately be taken back to the era of your youth when guys could wear tight, tight pants giving info to all about which side they dressed. Plus there’s dancing and golden moments in which the Doris Day filter gets switched on. It’s got everything, I tells ya. Wine, swordfights, guys carrying their lunches, chicks in impractical daywear, white Mexicans, everything!


    Okay, this year marks (geddit?) this film’s 64th year on Earth and it doesn’t look a day over 60. It’s fairly dinged up with artefacts aplenty throughout. All sorts too; specks, scratches, burns and light waver and reflection. There’s also an unusual upward scrolling macro blocking during the darker bits that I’ve not seen before. Shadow detail is non-existent in the solid and murky blacks here. Delivered in 4:3, I’ve seen much better transfers of black and white films than this, but then again I’ve seen worse as well. For its age, it looks pretty good, but for a DVD transfer it’s average at best.


    Good old Dolby Digital mono brings every poorly veiled accent and wooden delivery top raging life. The dialogue isn’t all bad, in fact some of it’s pretty good, but there are those moments we all know. Sound effects are okay, especially during the fighting scenes with swords clanging and clashing, and the music is effectively tinny and sounds like it’s been ground out on a steel tin with grooves cut in it. It’s also very swashbuckling itself and does suit both the film and the period it was made, but not necessarily the period the film is set in. However, it’s adequate for the purposes here.


    Zorro has restored these to their rightful place and left us cheering for him as a crowd, but still without extras.


    Diego gets it on with a stellar hottie in Linda Darnell here who plays Lolita Quintero, the daughter of the evil overlord of California and Los Angle-ease (as it’s pronounced). Good for him. Tyrone’s performance here is worthy of the role, but there are just one too many empty scenes obviously aimed at getting ladies into the cinemas. So many close shots on his arse while he does some Spanish dancing with Lolita (and I think I detected an elastic underpant line).

    Hey if you’re into the oldies, this one will no doubt thrill, though I found it a little slow and laboured by today’s pacing. There are some cool stunts, including jumping a horse off a bridge (which would probably have the Humane Society up in arms today) and plenty of fencing action, but if you don’t like black and white, or have trouble with older films, this one’s not gonna change your mind.

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      And I quote...
    "Swashbuckling, swashbuckling, swashbuckling. Man that’s hard to type three times fast… "
    - Jules Faber
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