“How could I refuse a man anything with a naked sword in his hand?”
A 19th century Spanish don (Tyrone Power) is shocked to find that his father (Montagu Love) has been replaced as governor of Los Angeles by a corrupt alcalde (J. Edward Bromberg). Donning a mask, Power becomes “Zorro” the masked avenger, fighting the villainous Bromberg and his henchman (Basil Rathbone), and winning the heart of Bromberg’s beautiful niece (Linda Darnell).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Basil Rathbone Films
- Historical Drama
- Linda Darnell Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Rouben Mamoulian Films
- Tyrone Power Films
This remake of the 1920 silent-era film (starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.) brought the fictional masked vigilante Zorro to a new generation of movie-going viewers. 20th Century Fox matinee-idol Power is well-cast in the title role, bringing verve and elan to a character embodying a hybrid of Robin Hood and The Scarlet Pimpernel. The cinematography is appropriately atmospheric, and Rouben Mamoulian directs with a solid hand throughout; a particular highlight is Power’s thrilling duel with Rathbone. With that said, the humor, romance, and corruption-driven narrative aren’t all that memorable, and I suspect modern film fanatics won’t be quite as taken with this outing as 1940 audiences were. It’s primarily worth a look for its (and Power’s) historical popularity.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The truly exciting swashbuckling scene between Power and Rathbone
- Arthur C. Miller’s atmospheric cinematography
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing given its historical relevance. Listed as a film with Historical Relevance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book. Named to the National Film Registry in 2009 by the Library of Congress.