InsidePulse DVD Review – The Mark of Zorro: Special Edition


Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Director:

Rouben Mamoulian

Cast:

Tyrone Power……….Don Diego Vega/Zorro
Linda Darnell……….Lolita Quintero
Basil Rathbone ……….Captain Esteban Pasquale
Gale Sondergaard……….Inez Quintero
Eugene Pallette……….Fray Felipe
J. Edward Bromberg……….Don Luis Quintero
Montagu Love……….Don Alejandro Vega
Janet Beecher……….Señora Isabella Vega
George Regas……….Sergeant Gonzales
Chris-Pin Martin……….The Turnkey
Robert Lowery ……….Rodrigo
Belle Mitchell……….Maria de Lopez
John Bleifer……….Pedro
Frank Puglia……….Propietor
Eugene Borden ……….Officer of the Day

The Movie

Zorro is the Mexican version of Robin Hood; while he doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor, nor is he played by Kevin Costner at any point in cinematic lore, but he’s a defender of the people in the same manner. From early serials and comic books, Zorro has always had a special place as a hero.

In 1940, the best of the Zorro movies was made in The Mark of Zorro. With Tyrone Power, arguably at the peak of his abilities and drawing power, as the title character and his alter ego, Don Diego Vega. Vega is a Spaniard, having lived a life of fun in Spain where he gets to indulge in horse-riding and swordplay. When he is summoned back to his native Los Angeles by his parents he arrives to a much changed Spanish community. His father (Montagu Love) has been replaced as the Mayor, turning it into a police state.

Having fooled everyone into thinking he’s more interested in dancing and floral arrangements, Vega dons the all-too familiar black mask and clothing to rage against the machine. It’s a movie that helped inspire the sort of “save the day, get the girl” shenanigans that are cliché in action films for the last 50 years.

And it’s an interesting tale; swash-buckling action films were in their peak during this era, and its pretty impressive even 65 years removed to see the sort of swordplay at its peak. It is still interesting to see big battle scenes with swords and one shot guns, as there’s much more of an athletic emphasis than there is today.

It’s an interesting film; while its flaws are pretty evident (as the story-telling isn’t quite as refined as it did in the 20 years after), it is still worth looking at, if only to see the glory days of a genre.

Score : 8 / 10

The Video

Presented in a full screen format with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, The Mark of Zorro is presented in its original black & white as well as an updated colorized version, the film looks about as good as it can be. The colorized version makes the 1940s film look as if it could’ve been filmed in the 1970s in terms of color.

The Audio

Presented in a stereo format, the audio for this film is not quite up to snuff as the video is. But being filmed in the 1940s comes with the limitation of mediocre audio. It sounds decent enough all things considered but is a noticeable step or three behind today’s modern movie sound.

The Extras

Tyrone Power: The Last Idol is an A&E Biography that is included about the man behind the mask. Covering his entire life, it’s an absolutely fascinating look at both the man and the era in which he created movies in. Running around 45 minutes, it’s detailed look at the man that doesn’t shy away from mentioning the low points about the man. It’s detailed look, bringing in the perspectives of his wives and children, as well as his friends and co-workers, to talk about the man’s life with some frankness.

Six photos from the movie set

Commentary by Film Critic Richard Schickel

Score : 8 / 10