The Mark of Zorro


The Mark of Zorro tells the story of Don Diego Vega, the outwardly foppish son of a wealthy ranchero Don Alejandro in the old Spanish California of the early 19th century. Seeing the mistreatment of the peons by rich landowners and the oppressive colonial government, Don Diego, who is not as effete as he pretends, has taken the identity of the masked Robin Hood-like rogue Señor Zorro (“Mr. Fox”), champion of the people, who appears out of nowhere to protect them from the corrupt administration of Governor Alvarado, his henchman the villainous Captain Juan Ramon and the brutish Sergeant Pedro Gonzales (Noah Beery, Wallace Beery’s older half-brother). With his sword flashing and an athletic sense of humor, Zorro scars the faces of evildoers with his mark, “Z.”

When not in the disguise of Zorro, dueling and rescuing peons, Don Diego courts the beautiful Lolita Pulido with bad magic tricks and worse manners and she cannot stand him. Lolita is also courted by Captain Ramon; and by the dashing Zorro, whom she likes.

In the end, when Lolita’s family is jailed, Don Diego throws off his masquerade, whips out his sword, wins over the soldiers to his side, forces Governor Alvarado to abdicate, and wins the hand of Lolita, who is delighted to discover that her effeminate fiancé, Diego, is actually the dashing hero.


I can remember a time not so long ago when I would come home and watch Zorro on the Disney channel. Those were the days, huh? The Mark of Zorro isn’t quite as memorable and campy as that show, but it is regarded as one of the greatest appearances of Zorro in media. A little bit of trivia…although there is some discrepancy about whether it is this or the Tyrone Power remake, this is the film that Bruce Wayne, you may know him as Batman, was coming from with his parents when they were murdered.

What is this about?

By day, Don Diego de la Vega is the ne’er-do-well son of a wealthy California rancher. By night, he’s the masked hero Zorro, who fights to rescue his fellow citizens from the tyrannical Capt. Juan Ramon.

What did I like?

Silent goodness. I seem to enjoy these silent films immensely, despite the fact that the constant reading takes me out of the film. That is just a result of my ADHD and the times, though. I’m sure had I been around during the times before “talkies”, this would be a moot point. If we learned anything from The Artist, though, it is that silent films can work with today’s audiences. Too bad no one takes the time to enjoy them anymore.

Swashbuckling. One of the things that draws me into action films from Hollywood’s Golden Age is the action scenes, specifically the swordfights. I’m just a sucker for a good, well choreographed swordfight. As you can imagine with Zorro, there are more than a few of these to be seen. Douglas Fairbanks was one of best and brightest of the swashbucklers along with Errol Flynn, so it should come as no surprise that watching him duel it out as Zorro is like watching a master perform his craft.

Zorro. I think most people nowadays know Zorro from the Antonio Banderas films. If that is the case, fear not, watching this will not confuse you. All the characteristics of Zorro are still present, though some of the characters seem to be under different guises, or the names have been spliced/split from the Banderas films. The main thing, though, is that Zorro is a sort of Mexican equivalent to Robin Hood, and this film does not mess with the legend we all know and love.

What didn’t I like?

Music. I actually liked the music, as a whole. It is some of the greatest film music that wasn’t performed by a massive studio orchestra. However, there were points, very few of them, where the music didn’t quite seem to match what was happening with the film, and it really caused a disconnect, at least for me.

Color. I’m not sure if this is a Netflix quality issue, something to do with the original copy of the film, or something else, but there seemed to be a color issue. For the most part, the film would stay in black and white, but then it would go outside and take a blue tint (which may have been done on purpose, now that I think about it), only to go to another scene which would be sepia. It was a bit distracting.

Daddy. I didn’t feel as if the whole father issue was given enough attention to have been such an integral part of the story as it ended up being. Again, this may have had something to do with the silent film aspect, but it just came off as a way to hook Don Diego up with Lolita and nothing more. I found myself wondering why it is that we really give a care about this man? He’s not Zorro and he’s not doing anything to help move the story along, so why is he there?

I happen to have an affection for Zorro that goes back to my childhood, so the fact that I enjoyed The Mark of Zorro should not come as a surprise. While I happened to really enjoy this film, I don’t believe it is something that I could recommend to everyone, based solely on the silent film aspect. I know how people hate to read, myself including, and that can take away some of the enjoyment. That being said, if you can get past that, this is a really well-made, enjoyable classic film that is well worth the watch. Check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars


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