Movie Review: The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Synopsis: While excelling at his military training in Spain, Don Diego Vega is unexpectedly summoned home to California by his aristocrat father. When he arrives, he learns his home has come under the control of a tyrant. With the landowners, including his father, refusing to stand up for the peasants, Diego disquises himself as a masked outlaw named El Zorro in an effort to terrorize the alcalde into resignation while, at the same time, wooing the alcalde's niece.
Review: I was happy to come across this film on one of my movie channels because it is one of my favorites and I hadn't seen it in a long time. I had a chance to watch it again yesterday and, as has been the case the previous times, it did not disappoint.
There have been various incarnations of Zorro, including some more recent ones, but I still think Tyrone Power pulls off the role the best. His fencing skills are as good as any other actor I've watched (and better than many), making his portrayal of the vigilante believable, especially in close-up scenes. At the same time, the way he portrays Diego as a lazy/spoiled brat (part of his disguise) is fantastic. There are times in this movie when he genuinely gets on my nerves too.
I also love the main antagonist in this film, Capt. Pasquale (Rathbone). Not only does he have a cold, calculating seriousness that nicely complements the buffoonish alcalde (Bromberg), Rathbone's own fencing skills made the final fight between the two characters much more enjoyable because he was every bit Diego's equal and, in some ways, superior.
If I have any complaints about this film it would be I wish Diego's main love interest, Lolita, would have been played by someone a bit older than Linda Darnell. She was still a teenager when the movie was made and the age difference between her and Power was fairly obvious. That might not have been a huge deal when the movie was made but, today, it was admittedly a little disturbing watching the 26-year-old Power kissing a woman who was, at the time, younger than my teenager. Ironically, it's probably the only thing about this movie that didn't age well.
Final Opinion: This is a great action movie with an underrated final fight/fencing scene. I recommend taking the time to watch it if you haven't had a chance.
My Grade: A