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Around 1820 the son of a California nobleman comes home from Spain to find his native land under a villainous dictatorship. On the one hand he plays the useless fop, while on the other he is the masked avenger Zorro. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The famous duel was staged by Hollywood fencing master Fred Cavens. Cavens specialized in staging duels that relied more on actual swordplay rather than the jumping on furniture and leaping from balconies that many film "duels" consisted of up until that point. Cavens' son, Albert Cavens, doubled for Tyrone Power in the fancier parts of the duel (mostly with his back to camera), such as the extended exchange with Esteban ending with Don Diego's sword smashing into the bookcase. Basil Rathbone, a champion fencer in real life, did not care for the saber (the weapon of choice in this film), but nevertheless did all of his own fencing. Fast fencing shots were undercranked to 18 or 20 frames per second (as opposed to the standard 24fps) and all the sound effects were post-synchronized. See more »
When the padre leaves the cell he has a pistol in his right hand. When he starts hitting the soldiers, he has a tree limb in his right hand. When the Alcade resigns, the padre escorts him the pistol is back in his right hand. See more »
Young Don Diego De La Vega has been sent to Spain from the family estancia in Spanish California to learn fencing and get a little polish, bring some culture and couth to the frontier.
When he returns Diego finds all is not right. His father is out as alcalde of the village of Los Angeles and a new post captain and his willing accomplice, the new alcalde, are conducting wholesale robbery of the people quite legally. What to do?
When Diego De La Vega is played by Tyrone Power quickly give the impression you're a fatuous fop and don't let them see you're the best swordsman around. And by night take the guise of an 18th century bandit hero and call yourself Zorro.
I love this film very much because great romantic heroes like Tyrone Power just aren't found these days. Eventually Power proved he could do more than just look good in a period costume, but the movie going public loved him best in these kind of roles, me included.
He gets great support from lovely Linda Darnell whom he has to simultaneously repel as Don Diego and woo as Zorro to keep the fiction going. Basil Rathbone is a wonderful commandant who keeps the people in line and taxes to himself.
But I particularly liked J. Edward Bromberg and Gale Sondergaard as Senor and Senora Quintero the crooked alcalde and his scheming wife. Oddly enough as fate would have it, both of these people later on had blacklist problems with Bromberg meeting a tragic early death.
Dueling and romance from Tyrone Power, the California Cockerel so dubbed by his fellow students at the fencing academy who saves the day and wins the girl. And when the girl is Linda Darnell, does anyone have to ask what he's fighting for?
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