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Zorro's Fighting Legion
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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Zorro against Don del Oro

Author: esteban1747 from Spain
10 December 2002

There have been several films about Zorro, some even made in Europe, e.g. Alain Delon. This role has also been played by outstanding actors, such as Tyrone Power and Anthony Hopkins, but to me the best of all times has always been Reed Hadley. This serial gives you the opportunity to see an interesting western, where you will only discover the real villain, Don del Oro, at its end. The serial also has good performance of various actors of movies B like Ed Cobb, ex- Tarzan Jim Pierce, C. Montague Shaw, eternal villains like John Merton and Charles King, and a very good performance of Hadley as Zorro. He was quick, smart, used well his whip and sword, and his voice was the best for any Zorro.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Wall to Wall Action!

Author: ( from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
3 April 2005

As serials go "Zorro's Fighting Legion" is one of the best action serials of the 1930s. Made in a period when the studios could still field a large cast, this one has wall to wall action throughout its 12 chapters.

In 1824 the President of the newly formed Republic of Mexico Benito Juarez (Carleton Young) is trying to put his new country on a solid financial footing. To that end, he has arranged to have rich gold shipments forwarded to the capitol from the local San Mendolita mine.

Members of the local council plot to steal the shipments on behalf of Don-del-Oro a gold armored god, who with the aid of the local Yaqui tribe, hopes to install himself as the ruler of Mexico. Opposing him is Don Francisco (Guy D'Ennery) who forms a legion of locals to aid Juarez. When Don Franciso is murdered by Don-del-Oro's men, a stranger, the fopish Don Diego (Reed Hadley) arrives in town. Diego aka Zorro takes over the legion with the help of his friends Ramon (William Corson) and Juan (Budd Buster). The token heroine of the piece is Ramon's sister Volita (Sheila D'Arcy).

Both Diego and Ramon hold seats on the local ruling Counsil. It soon becomes apparent that some of the other members of the Council are in league with Don-del-Oro. First there is the Chairman of the Council (Leander de Cordova), the head of the militia Manuel (John Merton), Chief Justice Pablo (C. Montague Shaw) and Gonzolez (Edmund Cobb). Zorro suspects that one of these men is Don-del-Oro, but which one?

What follows are several hair raising escapes by Zorro and his confederates from the followers of Don-del-Oro. We have the ever present collapsing rope bridge, the deep chasm between two cliffs over which only Zorro can jump to safety, and the usual assortment of explosions, fires and coaches and wagons crashing or going over the cliff. Hats off here to Republic's fine team of stunt men lead by the legendary Yakima Canutt and the Yrigoyens, Bill and Joe. Canutt performs his signature stunt jumping on a team of runaway horses and then falling beneath the coach which he repeated in other films including John Ford's "Stagecoach" the same year.

Anyway, Zorro finally unmasks the false god Don-del-Oro and restores peace to the valley before riding off into the sunset in Chapter 12.

Others in the cast include Jim Pierce, Curley Dresden and Charlie King as Don-del-Oro's hence men and if you look closely you may spot bits by future serial star and Lone Ranger Clayton Moore and stuntman Canutt in bits. "Big" Jim Pierce by the way, may be best remembered for playing Tarzan in 1927's "Tarzan and the Golden Liom" (1927) and for his marriage to Joan Burroughs the daughter of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

review of Zorros Fighting Legion.

Author: tomwal from United States
7 February 2002

I rank this the best of the Zorro chapterplays.The exciting musical score adds punch to an exciting screen play.There is an excellent supporting cast and mystery villain that will keep you guessing until the final chapter.Reed Hadley does a fine job as Don Diego and his alter ego Zorro.Last,but certainly not least,is the great directing team of Whitney and English.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Zorro's Fighting Legion

Author: halvorh from Norway
21 May 2006

I loved this exiting republic serial! The story was one of the best I have ever seen! Even tough, the picture quality was not of the best, but OK. The fencing in this serial is also a bit bad, but not terrible. They only should have practised some more. As I said the story is GREAT! You're just sitting there and waiting to find out who Don Del Oro is! The theme music is excellent! It's the same guy who maid the music for Walt Disney's version of Zorro, who maid the Fightin Legion music. Costumes and buildings are very good. Zorro is really cool and so are the legioners! I highly recommend this serial. Buy it!

I love that Reed Hadley plays Zorro! He is funny, smart and brave! Mark: 6.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great music, great stunt work

Author: catherine yronwode from United States
24 November 2008

Reed Hadley makes a better foppish Don Diego than he does a dashing and daring Zorro, but that's almost beside the point because this serial features the bar-none best theme song of any serial, ever -- and the best version of Yakima Canutt's famous stagecoach stunt. There are other good stunts, and lots of action, and plenty of hair-raising cliff-hanger chapter endings, but if for no other reason, you must see this film to watch the stagecoach stunt, then re-watch it in slow motion. It is incredible, and, despite the lower budget for this chapter play, Yak turns in a better take on the stunt here than he did in the far more celebrated film "Stagecoach." Indiana Jones, eat your heart out: This is the real deal!

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Ain't that "Captain Braddock" as Zorro? And Hey! These Legionairres Sing !

Author: John T. Ryan ( from United States
18 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

God! Zorro has been the the subject of about as many movies as Tarzan, and probably had about as many actors in the title role.

This Serial is one of my own personal favourites, and as previously stated,it is one of the Top 5 Sound Serials. Oddly enough, this is one production that came out in that water shed year of 1939.* By the time of this production in '39, Zorro was really well known as a (Pulp) literary and movie character. The film opens up with a little foot note about the History of the Mexico's struggle for freedom from rule by a European Monarchy, namely Spain. The story invites comparison with the American Revolutionary War.

The story concentrates its attention to the mythical Province of San Mendelito and its 'Council'. It is being addressed by Benito Juarez**on their gold mine's relation to the new Republic of Mexico. Gold shipments must get thru to Mexico City.

Don Francisco Uncle to Diego Vega, states that he has organized a group of patriots to act as a protective force for the gold convoys.A thug from the Don del Oro mob, stages an 'insult' to himself and challenges Don Francisco to a duel with swords, Don Frasncisco getting run through.

Suddenly the dark clad masked swordsman appears to sword fight and after carving the trademark 'Z' on the face of the bad guy, he dispatches him to the hereafter. Don Francisco declares with his dying breath to his ward Ramon (William Corson) that Zorro is his nephew from the city of Los Angeles. He also attempts to tell of the true identity of Don del Oro, but expires before completing statement.

There is a big reception for Diego at Don Francisco's Hacienda, where Diego disappoints Ramon'sister (also ward of Don Francisco) with his timid act. "A FOP!!", she declares.

Later,Diego and Ramon slip away to join up with a meeting of the volunteers. When they ask, "who will lead us with Don Francisco now dead?", Ramon declares "Zorro, we are Zorro's Fighting Legion!" Well there is a big battle with the Legion, now all clad on gray, with masks and capes, protecting the Gold Train. Then Zorro seems trapped at a man-made avalanche intended for the convoy, when, well, you know cliffhanger end of Chapter One.

Wow! That was a lot of writing for one Chapter, but like most other Serials, the opening one is longer and has a lot of ground to be laid to set up the story line. Let's just let it suffice to say that there are 11 more good, well made, action filled Chapters following.

ZORRO's FIGHTING LEGION has all of the elements that made for top cliffhanger action. We have an unknown evil leader who is fomenting trouble between different groups. There is a number of suspects as to who was really behind of the mask of 'Don del Oro'. We had soldiers, renegade Whites, hostile Indians and the Legion.

In short, it's safe to say that there is everything one could want, and then some, in this Serial. And, incidentally, they wisely choose to not have the actors affect any Mexican accents.

As to just what is there here that makes ZFL stand out from the rest? What makes it different or unique? Well........

First of all, it has a much more elaborate and exciting musical score playing and underlining the drama and action on the screen. The opening theme even appears in a flamenco guitar rendition at the Cantina in Chapter One. This is probably the only time that such a highly specialized innovation appears in serial sound track.

And yet there is one more feature that really sets the Fighting Legion saga out in front from all others. That is, the film not only has a heroic musical theme, but it also sports Lyrics, yes, the Legionairres sing! We hear them singing in the opening credits and in several Chapters! It really works well and adds to the feelings we get from the viewing.

When the Serial was first shown on our local television (circa 1955), all of the gang immediately recognized the voice of Reed Hadley as belonging to 'Captain Braddock from RACKET SQUAD, the TV Series. Mr. Hadley had a very distinctive, deep voice.*** He also handled the role very well. His costume and especially the elongated mask looked very good and was probably very functional.

There is a small slip up. A sort of minor anachronism occurs by having Benito Juarez(Carleton Young)addressing the San Mendelito Council, as Juarez was about 18 years old at this time (1824) and, though he was later perhaps the greatest single figure in Mexico's History, he surely hadn't achieved such prominence yet. His inclusion in story probably was to cash in on the release of Warner Brothers' JUAREZ that year, which starred Paul Muni in the title role.

This is not only my pick as a top 5 sound serial, but also my favourite Zorro film.

* We are reminded of the great crop of top flight movies that year, what with GONE WITH THE WIND, MR.SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, THE CITADEL, JUAREZ, THE WIZARD OF OZ, OF MICE AND MEN, ONE MILLION B.C.,ZENOBIA, WE WANT OUR MUMMY all counted among the output that year.

** Once again, Juarez did not ascend to any national importance until around 1850, about 25 years later. Also, the political sub-divisions are referred to as 'Provinces' in the story. In actuality, they are called 'States'. Just as we are called the United States of America, so too,South of the Border they call their Repubhlic the United States of Mexico.

*** Reed Hadley was prominent in some very 'A' pictures in which his richly toned voice is exploited to good effect. Watch & listen for his narration in THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET (1945) and GUADALCANAL DIARY (1945).

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

one of the greatest action serials

Author: orsino44 from United States
11 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you are a fan of Zorro, Indiana Jones, or action in general this is a must-see. Directed by Republic's ace team of William Witney and John English, and starring Reed Hadley as Don Diego/Zorro, this serial delivers! I won't bore you with the plot (who cares? less talking, more fighting); what really matters here is Hadley's superb interpretation of the character/s and the stunt work of Dale van Sickel and Yakima Canutt.


You can see the influence this film had on Lucas and Spielberg -- Zorro gets caught in the original version of the Star Wars trash compactor in one chapter, trapped on a rope bridge a'la Temple of Doom in another, does a Raiders horse-to-coach transfer and even flees through a tunnel while the baddies knock over a huge water tank and flood the tunnel behind him, exactly as Mola Ram does to Indy in Temple of Doom. In addition to all this, the whip action is great as Zorro disarms villains, swings to safety, etc. with his trusty lash. Most of the sword work is fair to lame, except for chapter one, which features a terrific sword brawl in a cantina choreographed by sword/stunt legend Ralph Faulkner, who makes a rare screen appearance as the evil Rodriguez. This was the first serial I ever saw, on Matinée at the Bijou when I was a kid and I have been hooked on them ever since.

Zorro's Fighting Legion delivers "Z" goods!

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:


Author: Babe Hardy ( from Baltimore, Maryland, USA
26 June 2001

There was a very good reason for the full mask. To cover the stunt man's face in the action sequences for close ups. This way, no one would know if it was Reed Hadley or Dale Van Sikel, who did the stunts for the film.. This concept of the full mask, was used in later serials, "Daughter Of Don Q," "The Black Whip," etc. What I liked about the chapter play, was that they really kept you guessing, as to who on the Committee Board was the villain.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One of the best serials ever made

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
3 July 2008

Best of the Zorro serials and one of my favorite serials, period. This is a period serial set right after the birth of Mexico. The new nation is counting on the gold produced by this one town to keep the republic solvent. However a gold god, Don del Oro is stirring up the Indians and stealing the gold for himself. Its Zorro and his band of men to the rescue. Reed Hadley is a winning Zorro and he cuts a dashing figure as he gets into a nice selection of scraps (most all of which were reused by the later Zorro serials as well as other serials as well).The story moves and its nicely not clear who the real bad guy is. There is a reason that I've seen this the most of any serial I've seen, its simply a great action adventure film. The only thing I can compare it to is the Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power or one of the other swashbucklers of the period. Its super and highly recommended.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the best....

Author: Bond2a from Huddersfield, England
22 August 1999

My very favorite character in films, but in nearly all of them the character of Zorro has a small bit of cloth as a mask and if the villain`s can`t tell who is under that cloth then they are daft.

But in Reed Hadley`s "Zorro`s Fighting Legion" (serial 1939) the mask fills his whole face making it a real mystery as to who Zorro really is.

But anyway Zorro is one of the best character`s in films and to bring it up to date l think Anthony Hopkins in "The Mask of Zorro" (1998) is a delight.

My interest in films is vast, but l have a real liking for the serial`s of the 30s/40s....


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