The Mark of Zorro (1940 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Mark of Zorro is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling Spanish Western 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.

Contents

Plot

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 Alcalde 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.

Cast

Music

The Mark of Zorro (1974), is a made-for-television remake film starring Frank Langella and co-starring Ricardo Montalbán. It reuses Newman’s's original film score, along with new incidental music composed by Dominic Frontiere.

Portions of Newman’s original score was reused by composer Ian Fraser for the George Hamilton swashbuckling comedy film Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981). The film's storyline is a tongue-in-cheek sequel to the 1940 film.

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.

Batman connection

In the DC Comics continuity it is established that The Mark of Zorro was the film that the eight-year-old Bruce Wayne had seen with his parents, Thomas and Martha, at a movie theater, only moments before they were killed in front of his eyes by an armed thug (later retconned to be Joe Chill). 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. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (set in the DCEU continuity), Bruce and his parents leave a screening of 1940's The Mark of Zorro the night of their murder.

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.

In Todd Phillips' 2019 film Joker, the Marquee above the theater young Bruce and his parents exit shows the 1981 films Blow Out and Zorro, the Gay Blade as playing.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Mark of Zorro (1940 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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