Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981)

“Remember, my people: there is no shame in being poor, only in dressing poorly!”

Synopsis:
When the greedy new alcalde of Los Angeles (Ron Leibman) demands exorbitant taxes from local peasants, Don Diego Vega (George Hamilton) decides to wear his late father’s Zorro outfit and save the day. When he hurts his ankle jumping from a ledge, his long-lost effeminate twin brother, Bunny Wigglesworth (also Hamilton), conveniently arrives from Britain and takes over the role of Zorro — adding his own unique, flamboyant touch.

Genres:

Review:
After the success of his vampire spoof, Love at First Bite (1979), George Hamilton produced and starred in this affectionate homage to the masked avenger of pulp fiction lore. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable, tongue-in-cheek romp, thanks in large part to Hamilton’s portrayal as both Don Diego and Bunny — he’s convincing enough in these dual roles to make you forget he’s really just one actor. The script is clever, with plenty of juvenile yet amusing one-liners, and the action moves at a quick pace. As with all broad comedies, Zorro may not be for all tastes, but I think it’s a delightfully innocuous diversion.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • George Hamilton, endearingly campy in his multiple roles
    Zorro
  • Ron Leibman’s over-the-top performance as the Alcalde (though his yelling eventually becomes tedious)
    Alcalde
  • Brenda Vaccaro as the Alcalde’s sexually rapacious wife, Florinda
    Vaccaro
  • Bunny’s flamboyant outfits
    Bunny
  • The Alcalde trying to get Don Diego to “act like a sissy”
    Sissy
  • Many giggle-inducing lines: “What do the people need roads for? They never go anywhere.”

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.

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2 Responses to “Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981)”

  1. Not a must – but, as noted, it is an “affectionate homage” and a pleasant-enough diversion.

    It’s much better than it might have been had someone less accomplished directed. But Peter Medak was hired – he had handled dual personality brilliantly when he masterfully directed ‘The Ruling Class’ – and here added a number of wonderful touches to punch-up a script that needed more real belly-laughs.
    [There aren’t enough exchanges like:
    “Is your blade as sharp as your tongue?”
    “Is yours as dull as your wit?”]

    Via Leibman (a good comic character who does push here too often), Medak achieves two comic highlights: when Leibman has Hamilton walk-jump-run in place to find out if he is Zorro with a hurt ankle; when Leibman shows Hamilton how to act like a “sissy boy”.

    Another problem: When Lauren Hutton remarks that Hamilton has a “pronounced accent”, she’s not kidding; both Hamilton and Leibman, at times, are simply hard to understand.

    Special mention, though, should go to the costumer – esp. for coming up with such winning outfits for Bunny.

  2. Send-up of the legendary Zorro character was George Hamilton’s follow-up to his delirious Count Dracula in ‘Love at First Bite’ (1979). A performance that revealed a hidden comic talent. Playing another fictional role, his Zorro is a treat to watch. When we first see Zorro he is the dashing, demeanor figure we’ve all come to know. But when ‘Ramon’ takes over, the fun starts.

    It’s fun to see him don a whip instead of the famous sword, mixing his heavy Spanish-accent with a gay lisp, and dress in an assortment of colorful get-ups (“he was dressed like a big banana”). Though Ron Liebman’s ‘Esteban’ is sometimes off-putting with his overacting, its still fun for the whole family.

    QUOTE: Zorro: “That’s right, Zorro is back! To defend the defenseless! Befriend the friendless! And to defeat. . .the ‘defeatless’.”

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