|The Mark of Zorro|
|Directed by||Rouben Mamoulian|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Screenplay by||John Taintor Foote|
|Story by||Garrett Fort
|Based on||The Curse of Capistrano
by Johnston McCulley
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Edited by||Robert Bischoff|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$2 million (rentals)|
The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling adventure film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, that stars Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone.
The Mark of Zorro was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The film was named to the National Film Registry in 2009 by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”, and to be preserved for all time.
The film is based on The Curse of Capistrano written by Johnston McCulley, originally published in 1919 in five serialized installments in All-Story Weekly, which introduced the masked hero Zorro; the story is set in Southern California during the early 19th century. After the enormous success of the silent 1920 film adaptation, The Mark of Zorro, the story was republished under that name by Grosset & Dunlap.
Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) is urgently called home by his father. To all outward appearances, he is the foppish son of wealthy ranchero and former Alcade Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), having returned to California after his military education in Spain.
Don Diego is horrified at the way the common people are now mistreated by the corrupt Alcalde, Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), who had forced his father from the position of Alcalde. Don Diego adopts the guise of El Zorro (“The Fox”), a masked outlaw dressed entirely in black, who becomes the defender of the common people and a champion for justice.
In the meantime he romances the Alcalde’s beautiful and innocent niece, Lolita (Linda Darnell), whom he grows to love. As part of his plan, Don Diego simultaneously flirts with the Alcalde’s wife Inez (Gale Sondergaard), filling her head with tales of Madrid fashion and culture and raising her desire to move there with her corrupt husband, Luis.
In both his guises Don Diego must contend with the governor’s ablest henchman, the malevolent Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). He eventually dispatches the Captain in a fast-moving rapier duel-to-the-death, forcing a regime change; Don Diego’s plan all along.
- Tyrone Power as Don Diego Vega/Zorro
- Linda Darnell as Lolita Quintero
- Basil Rathbone as Captain Esteban Pasquale
- Gale Sondergaard as Inez Quintero
- Eugene Pallette as Friar Felipe
- J. Edward Bromberg as Don Luis Quintero
- Montagu Love as Don Alejandro Vega
- Janet Beecher as Senora Isabella Vega
- George Regas as Sergeant Gonzales
- Chris-Pin Martin as Turnkey
- Robert Lowery as Rodrigo
- Belle Mitchell as Maria
- John Bleifer as Pedro
- Frank Puglia as Proprietor
- Eugene Borden as Officer of the Day
- Pedro de Cordoba as Don Miguel
- Guy D’Ennery as Don Jose
- Charles Stevens as José (uncredited)
1920 silent version
The Mark of Zorro is a sound remake of the lavish 1920 smash hit silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro and Noah Beery, Sr. as Sergeant Gonzales. This film depiction includes Don Diego’s mother, Isabella, but it omits Bernardo (Don Diego’s mute servant). That 1920 feature introduced Zorro’s iconic all-black costume, subsequently incorporated into Johnston McCulley‘s later Zorro stories in his original fiction series upon which Fairbanks’ film had been based. The 1920 film was the first in a popular array of swashbuckler action features starring the acrobatic Fairbanks, who had previously appeared mainly in comedies. Clips from the film were incorporated into The Artist nine decades later.
In the DC Comics continuity it is established that The Mark of Zorro was the film that the young Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents at a movie theater, moments before they were killed in front of his eyes by an armed thug. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce’s childhood hero and an influence on his Batman persona. There are discrepancies regarding which version Bruce saw: The Dark Knight Returns claims it was the Tyrone Power version, whereas a story by Alan Grant claimed it to be the silent Douglas Fairbanks original. Bill Finger was himself inspired by Fairbanks’ Zorro, including similarities in costumes, the “Bat Cave” and Zorro’s cave, and unexpected secret identities, especially since the Batman character predates the Tyrone Power remake by a year. The posters for 1940’s The Mark of Zorro and the 1981 film Excalibur were used for a scene in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In the animated series Justice League Unlimited, a flashback of the fateful night establishes that for DCAU continuity Bruce and his parents were attending The Mark of Zorro but does not indicate which version. In earlier episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, the fictional character the Gray Ghost, a pulp fiction hero inspired by The Shadow, is the inspiration to young Bruce Wayne.
The Mark of Zorro has been released twice on DVD. The first was on October 7, 2003 and featured the film in its original black-and-white, as part of 20th Century Fox Studio Classics Collection. The second was released on October 18, 2005 as a Special Edition, featuring both a newly restored black-and-white version and a colorized version, prepared by Legend Films. Both contain the short film “Tyrone Power: The Last Idol” as seen on Biography on the A&E Network, with a commentary by film critic Richard Schickel.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 240, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 219, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
- “2009 Selections to the National Film Registry Announced”. News Releases. The Library of Congress. 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
- All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 9, 1919) – vol. 101 #2 (September 6, 1919)
- “Batman v Superman” Set Pic Sets Stage for Wayne Murders – Comic Book Resources