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  • I consider Douglas Fairbanks Sr to be kind of the "Patron Saint" of the modern-day blockbuster spectaculars and I can picture him looking down and smiling every summer when the latest crop of these action epics are released. THE MARK OF ZORRO, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, ROBIN HOOD, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, THE BLACK PIRATE and THE GAUCHO always strike me as the cinematic forerunners of the feel-good, two-fisted, special-effects-laden works that today's studios unleash for summer and Christmas. With DON Q,SON OF ZORRO and THE IRON MASK he could even be considered the "Patron Saint" of blockbuster sequels. To be sure those who have followed in his footsteps lack his mastery of the medium and debatably only RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK has the true "Fairbanks Aura" around it.

    THE MARK OF ZORRO is a masterpiece for any filmmaking era and is a perfect film to use to introduce people to silent films. Always a shrewd showman Fairbanks pounced on the rights to Johnston McCulley's story THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO, the tale that introduced "The Robin Hood of Old California" to the world. No matter what heights he'd go on to scale in his later films this one may represent Fairbanks' artistry in it's purest form. So much praise is heaped on the action scenes in this classic that viewers often overlook Doug's terrific job portraying both the foppish Don Diego and his athletic alter ego El Zorro. (When I first saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK the contrast between Harrison Ford's bookish, awkward mannerisms for Dr. Jones in the classroom and his agile, confident body language as the whip-wielding Indy reminded me of Fairbanks in THE MARK OF ZORRO.)

    Younger viewers who might otherwise sneer at silent movies like this might be persuaded to give it a chance by pointing out to them that no less an action star than Jackie Chan often praises Douglas Fairbanks in the same breath with Buster Keaton as one of his influences.

    THE MARK OF ZORRO all by itself earned Douglas Fairbanks his title as cinema's Swashbuckler-In-Chief.
  • AlAnn11 September 1999
    If you've seen the other incarnations of Zorro before seeing this black-and-white silent version, you may think this one is going to be boring. Wrong! Because it is silent, the visuals kept me captivated; much more seems to be conveyed through gestures and body language than in a film in which the characters speak. The accompanying organ music is masterfully matched to the action (when someone slams a hand down on to a table, there is an appropriate "thump" in the music.) Best of all, though, is watching the legendary Douglas Fairbanks in some of his trademark athletic leaps, which appear effortless. I have to say that this is one of the very best versions of Zorro.
  • Besides being entertaining in itself, "The Mark of Zorro" also provides Douglas Fairbanks with a nice showcase, in a dual role that gives him plenty of good material to work with. While other versions of the Zorro legends are now more familiar to present-day audiences, this one is probably still better than any of the others except for the 1940 version with Tyrone Power.

    The 1998 update had big names and a big budget, but it was of much lower quality, glossy and over-played at a number of points, and with too much material of comic-book quality at other times.

    Fairbanks works nicely both as Don Diego and as Zorro, and he gets opportunities to display many different talents. He gets to display his swash-buckling yet easy-going persona, and then at other times is able to show a more refined, sometimes vulnerable side. Not only does he make both personalities work, but he melds them together into a believable whole, not so much by means of artifice as by the vigor and sincerity of his screen presence.

    The story, likewise, presents an interesting situation that works Fairbanks in well with the other characters. Though they are less interesting in themselves, the secondary characters each play a useful role in the story and in the ideas that it suggests. This old version of the Zorro tale holds up well - at least for those who enjoy silent movies - and it presents a nicely paced and entertaining story.
  • This film is apparently Douglas Fairbanks' first swashbuckler and for a first, it is very good--though I still think his later film, THE BLACK PIRATE, is easily the better of the two films. And, because it is a first for Fairbanks AND one of the earliest swashbucklers period, I cut it a little more slack and don't score this film quite as stringently as later ones in the genre.

    Douglas plays the somewhat wimpy and effeminate son of a well-respected member of the California gentry during the final days of Spanish rule. I say "somewhat" because in later Zorro films, these aspects are much more apparent--making his persona seem gay and a coward--much like the Scarlet Pimpernel character (who poses as a fop yet fights for justice). As Don Diego Vega, Fairbanks did a decent job. As Zorro, he was wonderful and athletic--and very magnetic.

    The direction, writing and acting was just fine. The only problem I found with the film is that the final resolution seemed to happen a little too quickly and easily. I wish it had been drawn out longer and the sword fighting sequences had been a little longer and more complex. Regardless, it STILL is an amazing and watchable film--even in the sound and special effects saturated world of today.
  • Hooray for Doug!!! He is the epitome of the dashing swashbuckler and set the standard for all that followed.......and some of them were damn good but Fairbanks had it all. He flashed those teeth and swung from tree to building, across tables and onto the backs of horses......and without a stunt double. What a guy.

    The film tells the story that we all know due to remakes and a successful TV series (with a great theme song). The foppish Don Diego, is a terrible disappointment to his father and to his intended wife. He appears to be always "fatigued" and uses a silk handkerchief to indicate his ennui. It's a perfect cover for his alter ego, Zorro, the Robin Hood of old California.

    The acting in this silent is overall quite good even though Noah Beery Sr. is a little over the top in a couple of scenes......well, most of his scenes are rather hammy. (It must have run in the family for I found his brother Wallace pretty hammy himself). But Fairbanks is the reason for seeing this film. He is a ball of fire and looks like he had a great time playing this part......and you'll have a great time watching him. He's "that bold renegade, carves a Z with his blade, a Z that stands for Zorro". What fun!!!!!!!!!
  • Fairbanks, a jack of all trades (having co-written the script as well as starring and doing his own stunts) is at his best here as Zorro, the Spanish defender of the weak, which spawned at least a dozen more movies based on this (and a TV series, too.) The plot deals with Don Diego Vega, a playful young man who, when not making finger puppets on the wall or doing tricks with handkerchiefs, is prone to fatigue. But his father disapproves of such madness, suggesting that he marry the daughter Lolita, (Marguerite Del La Motte) of a family out of favor with the Governor of California. Unimpressed with Don Diego, the girl is instead in love with Zorro (also Fairbanks, which obviously means Don Diego IS Zorro.) But she has another suitor - in the form of Zorro's mortal enemy, Captain Ramon. And he and his men (including Noah Beery, who's part was an inspiration for the rotund captain in the TV series) will stop at nothing to capture him. Will Zorro save California? Will Don Diego and Lolita fall in love? Can Zorro finish his breakfast without being interrupted? Just sit back and enjoy Fairbanks's amazing stunts (which remind one of Buster Keaton) and remember: "Never do anything on an empty stomach - except eat!"
  • Enjoyable silent film provided with a musical soundtrack by TCM.

    DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS is the famous masked bandit, balancing a nice sense of humor and heroics, demonstrating the athletic side of Don Diego which has to be hidden by the more effete man who tires so easily. He's a Spanish version of the Scarlet Pimpernel. MARGUERITE DE LA MOTTE is a lovely heroine and ROBERT McKIM does everything but twirl his mustache as the villain from whose clutches Fairbanks must rescue the damsel in distress.

    Obviously a high-budget production with rich settings, nicely photographed in Sepia or blue tints for the night scenes. What's really astonishing is Fairbanks doing all those climbing stunts in the last reel, with so much ease. Full of youthful vigor and high spirits, he found a role that suited him to perfection, able to show two sides of his personality with charm and/or vigor while not ignoring the stunts that made him famous.

    It's an enjoyable and swaggering adventure, remade many times in the future, most notably with the 1940 sound version starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone.

    Summing up: Familiar yarn, well done and standing the test of time better than many other silent films thanks to good production values.
  • THE MARK OF ZORRO (United Artists, 1920), directed by Fred Niblo, based on the novel "The Curse of Capristano," marked the debut of Douglas Fairbanks in what he does best, swashbuckling adventure. This also set the pattern for other masked heroes created in later years, ranging from The Lone Ranger to comic book heroes as Spider-Man or Batman, among others.

    The story, set in the 19th century, focuses on the corruption in politics in Old California in which a mysterious masked man dressed in a dark cloak, avenges the wrongs of the community, and leaving his "Z" mark with his sword wherever he goes, even, as with the very first shot in the opening of the story, on the cheek of one of the soldiers. The question to this mystery is "who is this masked man known as Zorro?", the man who wants to right the injustices done to the common people. At the same time, there is Don Diego Vega (Douglas Fairbanks), a young man who has just returned from his education in Spain to be with his father, appearing to all as a foppish weakling whose more interested in music and poetry than fighting for the common cause. He even gives the impression that no woman would ever marry him. Even the beautiful Lolita (Marguerite De La Motte) finds Don Diego not to her liking but Zorro fascinating. But of course, as with the mild-mannered reporter of Clark Kent turning into Superman, Don Diego Vega becomes Zorro when necessary, full of confidence and quick with the sword, plus sporting his flashing smile, especially after winning his defeat.

    Also seen in the supporting cast are Noah Beery as Sergeant Gonzalez; Robert McKim as Captain Ramon; Charles Hill Mailes as Don Carlos; Walt Whitman as Frey Felipe, among others. Beery as Gonzalez has one of his most memorable moments on screen in a well staged presentation in which he crosses swords with Zorro. Other noteworthy scenes include Zorro's rescuing a Padre from being flogged; and Zorro's climax which he swings into action avenging with enemies of the state.

    Marguerite De La Motte, whose name isn't that well known today, was a frequent Fairbanks co-star and notably his favorite leading lady. Aside from THE MARK OF ZORRO, she and Fairbanks appeared in ARIZONA (1918), the modern-day comedy titled THE NUT (1921); THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1921), and its sequel, THE IRON MASK (1929). She was in her day what Olivia De Havilland was to swashbuckler Errol Flynn in his adventure sagas of the 1930s and '40s, a decorative co-star.

    Obviously a big success in 1920, and ranking one of the best known comedic adventures of the silent screen, THE MARK OF ZORRO did enjoy frequent TV revivals, especially on public television way back in 1971 during its popular 13-week series of THE SILENT YEARS as hosted by Orson Welles, which print, from the Killiam collection, features color tinting and an excellent piano score by William Perry. Over the years, THE MARK OF ZORRO has been available on video cassette, notably through Blackhawk Video, others with different underscoring, ranging from organ score to even slow playing violins, but none can beat the great Perry piano score, which helps the presentation this silent movie move along at a very fast pace. As the popularity of cable television began to increase by the 1980s, THE MARK OF ZORRO did play to a new audience on Arts and Entertainment (A&E) before going on American Movie Classics (with organ score) and Turner Classic Movies (first with the William Perry piano score on its "Silent Sunday Nights" presentations, then, years later, with restored print with corrected silent speed and new but unexceptional orchestral score).

    Hollywood has seen other Zorros in the future, the best known being the 1940 sound remake for 20th Century-Fox starring another screen team of Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell; Reed Hadley in the Republic chaptered serial, ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (1939); as well as the Disney TV series of the 1950s starring Guy Williams, for which baby boomers of that era remember so well. All these actors manage present Zorro in their own original style, none trying to copy or rip-off the Fairbanks carnation, but all owing to the Fairbanks character.

    THE MARK OF ZORRO included a sequel, fortunately not ZORRO 2, as it would be titled today, but as DON Q, SON OF ZORRO, in 1925, in which Fairbanks plays both father and son, with the son dominating the storyline. Fairbanks original screen hero comes to life in this fast-paced 90 minute adventure (there is also a video presentation that includes it in video acu-speed running nearly two hours) which seems to improve with each repeated viewing, especially with the great William Perry piano score. Long live the legend of Zorro.(***)
  • In Old California, despots who mistreat the people tremble at the thought of the mysterious, masked avenger who leaves upon the flesh of the guilty the sign of their shame & punishment - THE MARK OF ZORRO.

    In 1920 Douglas Fairbanks, one of the partners in the newly formed United Artists Studio, found what he instinctively knew would be the perfect film project. The Curse of Capistrano, a novel by Johnston McCulley, was full of adventure and romance, with an exciting hero in its main character, Zorro. Doug, Hollywood's greatest athlete, needed a showcase for his physical talents & charming personality.

    The search now at an end, THE MARK OF ZORRO would be the first in a series of swashbucklers with which Doug would dominate the 1920's. Giving the audience their money's worth, Fairbanks would insure that his films were full of elaborate historical ambiance, rapid-fire action & spectacular stunts.

    Fairbanks would always be the center of attention, of course, and this first foray would set the pattern. Sword fights, breathless escapes and constant leaping about gives Doug plenty to do, but he also enjoys the quieter, light-hearted moments - in this case playing little slight-of-hand tricks with his handkerchief. It is enormous fun to see Fairbanks set the mold on the persona which would ensure his screen legend.

    Although Fairbanks dominates the proceedings, there are other players to note: beefy Noah Beery as a bullying Spanish sergeant; innocent Marguerite De La Motte as Zorro's conflicted, confused sweetheart; Robert McKim as a villainous Spanish captain; and diminutive comic Snitz Edwards as a frightened innkeeper.

    The success of this film engendered a 1925 sequel, DON Q SON OF ZORRO, in which Doug would get to play father & son.
  • The amazingly athletic Douglas Fairbanks was the first man to play Zorro on the silver screen in this legitimate silent-era masterpiece. Fairbanks does his best to win the girl (Marguerite De La Motte) and keep the people of California safe from evil military officials Noah Beery and Robert McKim. Eventually Fairbanks learns that the only way he can stop the evil tyranny is to rally the rich landowners to join him and take back the land that is rightfully theirs. The exciting chase sequence near the film's finale is still a sight to behold over 80 years later as Fairbanks does death-defying stunts to elude the bad guys. Followed by a slightly better remake in 1940 and several other versions in more modern years. For some reason Zorro films just work so well on the silver screen. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When i was a kid, the BW Disney show was running on the 3rf french channel! When i was a teen, the BW Disney show was running on the 3rf french channel! When i'm an adult, the BW Disney show is still running on the 3rf french channel! So it looks that our 3rd french channel has only 1 show in stock and unfortunately the 1st time i watched it, i was bored and that's like this since 40 years! So i was a bit anxious before trying this one but as a cinema explorer, Fairbanks is an icon to discover and for sure as a Batman fan, this movie was a essential moment in the Bat mythology! Now that i watched it, i can say that i had great fun with it! Fairbanks is an excellent actor for comedy and an amazing stunt expert (a bit like the future Bruce Willis); The directing is inspired because it's like watching a play: the camera is cautious to the simmetry and to the depth of the sets (a bit like the future Wes Anderson): the mansions are beautiful, the pueblo breathes Spain and this movie reminds that California was first latin and not at Wasp! The story is like a modern Robin Hood (protect the feeble and justice for all) and it's like the 1st super hero character: double identity, costume, sidekick and even a Zorro-cave and unlike the dreadful Disney show, the story is totally encapsulated and stands in one single one production ! So try it: it's really good fun and a bit like Peter Pan, a proof that Disney has a habit to take others creations!
  • Fairbanks' portrayal of Zorro as a leering, pulsing menace (always crouched as if about to pounce) is unforgettable, providing a benchmark for all his followers. His stunt work is sometimes breathtaking, as he glides from rooftop to rooftop, through windows, and even as he jumps over donkeys and set tables! De La Motte is good with what she has to do -- I like the feel of her icy resistance to the Don whatshisname when he's acting like a fop and she doesn't know he is truly Zorro, who she loves. Lots of broad comedy, brisk pace. Nice Photography in the style of "Don Juan."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The part of Fray Felipe, the abused Franciscan monk, is played by Walt Whitman. He gets whipped so badly by the corrupt governor of early California that he almost become Flay Felipe. I'd thought Walt Whitman was long dead, but no. This guy actually LOOKS a lot like Walt Whitman in his age. The movie was directed by Fred Niblo who, along with Van Heflin and Vera Miles, was one of the few contributions made to the art of cinema by the state of Oklahoma.

    Douglas Fairbanks is Zorro as what may be the movies' first swashbuckler. I don't think he did such a hot job as Zorro. The choreography of the action scenes is fine, but Fairbanks smiles too much, no matter what the threat is. He grins and laughs in the face of danger. It would be no joking matter to me if I had ten swarthy ruffians rushing at me with upraised sabers. But then -- well, the "fencing" sucks, but Fairbanks does these fantastic leaps, almost inhuman in their character. If you're not aware of how primitive the technology was, you'd think he was suspended by wires as in some recent chop-socky movies.

    He does better as Don Diego, the effete son of one of the caballeros, recently come from Spain. He projects great boredom and fatigue without ever suggesting any femininity. As Don Diego he slouches from place to place, his shoulders slumped, patting his face with a hankie.

    The movie is a genuine original, copped from a short story in a nowhere magazine. It's full of zest. I much prefer the Tyrone Power version from 1940. Power was quite good, although he wasn't quite as acrobatic, and he did well in both disguises. Furthermore, the 1940 version had Basil Rathbone as the evil captain, who was an expert swordsman himself. He'd taken up fencing in real life. And nobody is better at snorting insults through his nasal passages than Basil Rathbone. The saber duel between Power and Rathbone towards the end of the movie is a classic of staging, choreography, and acting skill.

    Nobody gets to dance to "El Sombrero Blanco" here because it's a silent movie. Too bad. There is a nice romantic theme to accompany Zorro's courtship of Lolita though. It may be from Manuel de Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" but I'm not sure.

    Not a total loss by any means, but the later version is an improvement.
  • OK, I confess. Kids today believe any movie made before 1990 is old-fashioned and not worth their time. When I was a kid, I loved the old B&Ws from the 30s and 40 -- treasures abounded! -- but pretty much drew the line at the silent films. Lawdy, Lawdy, how can you possibly make a film without sound? A funny thing happened on the way to that belief system. I was telling a friend how Disney's Zorro with Guy Williams was the best Zorro of the era -- matched only by the sheer exuberant bravado of Tyronne Power in the 1940 MARK OF ZORRO -- and it was suggested to me, in return, that I should check out the Fairbanks Sr. version, the silent version, the fountainhead of Zorros, as it were. (No comments here on the Hopkins version - abomination!) OK, I said I would and I did. And now the confession -- it is the only silent film I have seen beginning to end, it was mesmerizing, and I loved it. I was told, but could not believe, that the athletic ability of Fairbanks exceeded that of any subsequent Zorro, sound or no sound. I did not believe it. I was wrong. Wrong happens. I watched in awe as this amazing actor, denied the ability to use his voice, conveyed by eye movement, facial expression, and gestures what was happening. And the stunts! I swear, in several scenes he moved like he was weightless. These were not special effects, please note, these were stunts. Fairbanks could almost float, it seemed. The version I saw had all the piano music in the overdub which presumably matched what audiences might have heard in theatres. It was fun. It was entertaining. It was as promised. Great film.
  • Cineanalyst31 December 2009
    Douglas Fairbanks played two roles in his movie career, but in many ways, it seems he only really played one. The first act was in modern comedies, where he often played some ineffectual urban dweller who leaps (often literally) at an opportunity for some adventure or other transformative experience that is in harmony with his exuberance and charm, while winning the affections of the leading lady. The second act of his career began here, with "The Mark of Zorro"--the historical action adventure, costume swashbuckler. This one doesn't have quite the lavish productions values as in some of his later pictures, such as "Robin Hood" (1922) and "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924), but the premise is the same. Moreover, Edward M. Langley's sets seem historically appropriate and well done for the time, and Fairbanks is supported by a well-rounded cast (including a very hammy Noah Beery) and director Fred Niblo, who would continue after this as an expert in producing such historical spectacles.

    Like the contemporary comedies, the swashbucklers similarly highlight Fairbanks's talents; both are suitable vehicles for his graceful athleticism, boyish masculinity and pep, his smile and light sense of humor. His acrobatics are on full display in this one's climax. Fairbanks does seem to relish the dual roles here, playing Don Diego as a goof, to contrast his noble, graceful Zorro. Fairbanks's role here can't be overstated. He controlled his persona and productions as much as any star back then, producing for his own production company and contributing to scenarios. Reportedly, the "Z" mark of Zorro was a visual motif invented here, and Fairbanks also improvised much of the foppish nature of the Don Diego secret identity, which, however, was quite similar to some of the characters he played in his earlier comedies (i.e. in the first part of "The Mollycoddle" (1920) and "The Lamb" (1915)). Moreover, Zorro was Doug's earlier comedy persona unleashed from the constraints of modern society, and his foppish Don Diego was him pretending to still be constrained—only inversions of his earlier roles. Additionally, Fairbanks spent considerable time being trained by experts for the swordplay and stunts, and the effort clearly paid off. "The Mark of Zorro" is a light, enjoyable vehicle for his talents, and it's also an important touchstone in film history—popularizing the pulp magazine creation of Zorro, establishing the American swashbuckler, action-adventure film and its archetypal hero, while doing so with Doug's characteristic grace, smile and contagious sense of fun.
  • In justifying his placement of Douglas Fairbanks among his "five greats" of cinema, the British director Michael Powell said, "His personality is in every foot of film he made. He was our first ballad-maker. Our first conjuror." A worthy assessment, but it was not until Mask of Zorro, five years and thirty-odd pictures into his career that he achieved that status and a reputation that persisted long after his death.

    Up until this picture, Fairbanks was known purely as a comedy actor, popular and successful in his own right, but far from being a legendary genius like his pal Charlie Chaplin. His speciality, the one thing that really set him apart from his contemporaries, was blending physical comedy with his extreme athleticism. With The Mark of Zorro he revitalised his screen persona simply by reversing the pattern. Now the acrobatics were the main attraction and the comedy was the embellishment. But this is not simply an action flick with a bit of comic relief to spice up the "quiet moments"; the action sequences are simultaneously exciting and funny, and in fact there is very little comedy outside of the fights and the chases.

    The Zorro fable is now very much in the public consciousness, but it was this version, adapted from an obscure short story, which made the character famous. It's been remarked that he can be seen as the first superhero – a weak and unassuming man who dresses up to become a dashing, confident and indomitable warrior, as do Batman, Spiderman and the like. Almost all Fairbanks' swashbucklers (and even some of his comedies, especially The Mollycoddle) feature some kind of transformation from wimp to wonder, but Zorro is different in that he is a disguise that Fairbanks's character puts on and takes off. There's a key difference here between this and the 1941 Tyrone Power version. Power is given a more developed backstory, and is actually shown inventing the foppish Diego out of necessity, while his Zorro is a disguised version of the real Diego as he was back in Spain. In 1941, the fop Diego is the creation whereas Zorro is the real man. In the Fairbanks version however, it's implied that the fop is Diego's real personality, and Zorro is an act he has to put on to become everything he wishes he was. And I think it may have been this aspect which attracted Fairbanks to the story. He was himself not an exceptionally attractive man, but he achieved charisma through the roles he adopted.

    The director here is Fred Niblo, one of the exceptional craftsmen of the silent era, although his style does show the extent of Cecil B. DeMille's influence over film form at this point. Like DeMille, Niblo makes use of "Rembrandt" lighting, close-ups of hands, feet and faces to define characters and set scenes, and tight control over pacing and rhythm from scene to scene and shot to shot. The latter comes in very handy in giving the action sequences the right punch, a good example being the first entrances of Diego and Zorro which are played for their element of surprise. Crucially, Niblo is able to direct mass action, making the grand finale effective, striking that all-important balance between comedy and excitement.

    After the resounding success of Mask of Zorro, Fairbanks would abandon his contemporary comedies to concentrate on a series of period swashbucklers, eventually donning the costume of all the great romantic heroes. The pictures that followed this one would be grander and more polished, and would contain far more depth in terms of story and characterisation. However, the Mark of Zorro, while weaker on many levels, does have a pace and directness that makes it one the most watchable of all Fairbanks features.
  • A classic!!Fairbanks'stunt work is superb with excellent action scenes,Marguerite De La Motte is very good as the lovelly Lolita. The plot follows the book and I think that is an important thing in an adaptation. "The Mark of Zorro" was the first movie that Douglas Fairbanks did in his own studios after he married Mary Pickford. For me,Douglas Fairbanks is one of the greatest heros in the history of the cinema,he was brilliant in all his works. 10/10
  • From those early days...

    It is very interesting to see what cinematic effects had been learned by this time. Sometimes the music seems a bit off, making this into something closer to a comedy.
  • This is the first film I watch starring Douglas Fairbnaks, after reading about this so great movie star for a long time and now I understand why he was so great. His impersonation of both Don Diego and Zorro is really good for the acting of the time: he has amazing body control - as he did all of his stunts! - and enormous charisma. It's impossible to not like him as Zorro and to feel a little bit sorry for him as Don Diego, The actors are all nice as well. And, although the Mexican characters are really stereotyped, what would make people nowadays think it's prejudice - and probably is - everyone is stereotyped since it was common in those times to not get really deep into characters. The goal was only to enterntain and what a fun this film is!

    Another amazing thing is the cinematography. I'm really not sure if it was common to change light colors for films in 1920, but I thought it really ceative to put a blue light for night scenes, an orange light for interior scenes, and an yellow/green light for exterior scenes. The art direction and the costume design are perfect! It's possible to see it was a big production for the time and for sure it was worth it.
  • Ah, good old Zorro, doling out vigilante justice in the form of disfiguring Z-shaped scars on the faces of those who deserve it, at least as he sees it. Well, it's a good thing he's never wrong, and stands up for the victims of oppression, including some Native Americans and priests. With this film Douglas Fairbanks really launched the character, who just a year before appeared for the first time in a serialized story in a pulp magazine. It also helped establish the action genre in Hollywood, and was the first of his films that made him a superstar, so it should get some credit for its place in film history.

    It's certainly watchable today, but for me suffers a little for its age. It's a little too comical at times, e.g. getting a guy to fall for the old "hey what's that on your boot" line during a sword fight, and then later cutting a Z into the backside of his pants. At other times, it's a lot of Fairbanks running away from a bunch of caballeros chasing him, and while some of his stunts scaling walls and jumping precariously about are entertaining, they wear a little thin.

    I liked how well Fairbanks switched his body language and demeanor between the characters of the dashing Zorro and Don Diego Vega, a lethargic fop who appears to be interested in shadow puppets and parlor tricks more than anything else, including the young lady in the story (Marguerite De La Motte). As I watched it, the connection to Batman (created a couple of decades later) couldn't have been clearer - like the caped crusader, Zorro has an affluent alter-ego, wears a mask, stands up for victims, and even has the equivalent of a Batcave, which was the coolest part of the movie. The ease with which he ultimately prevails is also reminiscent of a comic book.
  • Leofwine_draca11 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    THE MARK OF ZORRO is one of the most famous swashbucklers of all, and the film that helped cement the reputation of Douglas Fairbanks as one of the screen action men heroes of the silent era. It's a story we all know given how many times it's been told over the ensuing decades, but it's still and bright and breezy piece of filmmaking, with fun action sequences and dastardly villains.
  • The considerable athletic prowess of Douglas Fairbanks is on full display here in The Mark Of Zorro. This film became the standard for all future Zorros including Tyrone Power and TV's Guy Williams.

    Don Diego Vega is back from Spain learning the latest in court fashion and etiquette, but also learning duelling from the best teachers. Seeing there is despotism developing in the person of Captain Robert McKim in charge of the garrison of His Majesty's troops. California is a very long way off from Spain and the chance of appeals is limited.

    Leading the opposition is the Pulido family headed by Charles Hilles Mailes who has a beautiful daughter in Margaret DeLa Motte. She has everyone's eye including Fairbanks.

    Fairbanks courts her both as the court fop Don Diego and as the masked mysterious man in black Zorro who is doing his Robin Hood thing. DeLa Motte is bored by Don Diego, but the masked mysterious stranger is one romantic devil outlaw or not.

    Those duelling and chase scenes are the highlight of the film and the hallmark of any Douglas Fairbanks film. Fairbanks was 37 when he made The Mark Of Zorro, but he prided himself on his conditioning and fitness. That is Douglas Fairbanks doing all those stunts, he rarely used a stunt double. It's what makes The Mark Of Zorro hold up so well today.

    I'm sure that the story of the fop Don Diego like Clark Kent and his Superman like persona Zorro will be filmed once again for the big and small screens. But folks, the standard is set here by Douglas Fairbanks.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SYNOPSIS: A masked champion of the people masquerades as a Spanish fop in Old California.

    COMMENT: When I first saw this film several years ago, I was not only disappointed but wrote up a negative review. I didn't realize two super-important factors about the DVD I was viewing. (1) It seemed to be running at the correct speed, but in fact it was not. It ran only 90 minutes instead of 107. The print was complete, but because it was running a little too fast, the story failed to build up satisfactorily. Individual scenes lost their carefully timed impact. And an even worse result was that the facial expressions of the actors often seemed both unnatural and exaggerated. (2) The print was presented from start to finish in black-and-white. This completely destroyed not only the story's mood and atmosphere but its ability to enhance the emotions and the response of the viewer. It too also had the effect of making the acting seem unnecessarily theatrical and overdone.

    I'm now convinced that many negative reviews of silent movies are instigated not by any lack of story cohesion or emotive power or sympathetic characterization in the films themselves, but simply because the viewer-in most cases, unwittingly-has exposed himself to a print presented at the wrong speed and/or the wrong format. Many people assume that tinting was added to a movie as an afterthought. And in a few cases, it was! But in 99% of movies, the tinting was actually written into the shooting script itself as a guide to both the director and the photographer. In short, tinting required that scenes be overlit and facial expressions exaggerated. If this was not done, the scenes would print too dark and the actors fail to register. And of course the actual colors used would also play a vital role in enhancing the emotions of the audience.

    Viewing Kino's accurately toned and tinted Zorro proved a total revelation. Beautifully timed and directed with bursts of splendid acrobatic action interspersed with comedy and romance, this is now a Zorro that rivals the 1940 version. Admittedly the roles played by the villains here fall short (despite Noah Beery's enthusiasm), but the lovely Marguerite De La Motte is certainly the equal of Linda Darnell, while Fairbanks is far superior to Power as both fop and champion. In fact, I'd rate this as Doug's best performance ever!

    AVAILABLE on DVD through Kino. Quality rating: 10 out of ten.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . can only be defeated by really fast young skinny guys with great comic timing and super-human gymnastic skills. Of course, future film legend Douglas Fairbanks turns in his best performance in THE MARK OF ZORRO, since he WAS still relatively young, unknown, and poor in 1920. But as in ANIMAL FARM (or as with today's "upcoming" political "leaders," or as with many of today's Powerball and Mega-Millions big winners, or as in the plot of THE MARK OF ZORRO itself) both those born into wealth and those who have riches thrust upon them (or serve as Big Money's Henchpeople) soon grow into the very sort of piggish Enemies of the People whom they themselves had despised when poor. Only the threat of losing their wealth can sometimes temporarily bring these folks back on the side of angels, as happens here with Zorro (and, in an ancillary sense, with his main squeeze, Lolita Pulido). By the end of the 1920s, Hollywood's Fat Cats--including the aging Fairbanks himself--had banded together to form the elitist guilds, free-thought censorship codes, and pattern of persecuting the young & poor & creative classes (in other words, everything Zorro fought AGAINST!).
  • A must see for Douglas Fairbanks fans, one of his classics and certainly does make its mark(pun intended). The film looks absolutely beautiful with crisp photography that has aged really well and evocatively rendered costumes and sets. The music in rhythm very Spanish-sounding, the sort that you'd hear dancing to a tango, and also has a tender romance sound without ever feeling syrupy. The Mark of Zorro is written in a witty and infectious way, sometimes like the above quote seductive. The story has action-adventure written all over it, and it is rollicking excitement from start to finish. There is never a dull moment and it is always easy to understand what's going on. If you want action and stunts, as you'd expect from an action-adventure or anything with Fairbanks, you'll not be disappointed whatsoever here, there's a good amount of it and it is choreographed beautifully. Fairbanks is a joy, he is still charismatic, heroic and is clearly enjoying every minute he is on screen. The stunts play to his strengths and he performs them with dazzling precision and athleticism, not just technically but you are put at ease watching him because he doesn't forget to act at the same time. All the cast are fine, Margarite De La Motte being fiery and affecting and sharing great chemistry with Fairbanks. Overall, a classic, from the 20s and of any decade and actually one of the greats of the action-adventure film genre, and one of Fairbanks'(while he is the star because everything else is done so well the film doesn't rely on star power alone, which is a further reason for Mark of Zorro's greatness) best. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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