The Original Dark Knight
It is said that in the world of Batman, Bruce Wayne and his parents had gone to watch "The Mark of Zorro" starring Tyrone Power on the night his parents were murdered and it makes sense because both Zorro and Batman are caped and masked crusaders. Anyway that leads me in to "The Mark of Zorro" by no means the first Zorro movie but one of the best with Tyrone Power delivering the sword fighting action hero with energy, charm and bucket loads of charisma. In fact you can say that "The Mark of Zorro" is everything you expect from a Zorro movie with a variety of characters including beautiful women, a tone which has some playfulness about it and some brilliant action scenes none more so than the big swordfight featuring Tyrone Powers and Basil Rathbone.
Having been training in Madrid Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power - Jesse James) is summoned home to Los Angeles, California by his father and on his return discovers that his father is no longer the governor having been ousted by the snivelling Don Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg) who is little more than a puppet of Capt. Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone - The Adventures of Robin Hood). Realising that the people are suffering under Quintero's rule Don Diego Vega dons a mask and cape and as Zorro begins terrorising Quintero and trying to force him out whilst as Don Diego he romances Quintero's beautiful niece Lolita (Linda Darnell - Dakota Incident).
So over the years there have been a variety of Zorro movies and whilst all are different they often work to a similar storyline that of Don Diega Vega becoming Zorro to battle an evil Governor and his sinister right hand man. There is always a beautiful woman for Diego to romance and of course his escapades are always playful as he out smarts the Governor. Now "The Mark of Zorro" is no different, for all the little details such as Diego having trained in Spain to him having learnt some slight of hand magic tricks the basic storyline is a familiar one.
That is by no means a complaint because whilst familiar "The Mark of Zorro" is still entertaining thanks to variations in tone, action and some great characters. It is part of what makes a Zorro movie so good that it has an element of comedy and here we have it coming at us in two forms from Quintero being a snivelling puppet who is bossed about by Capt. Pasquale to the way Diego plays a bit of dandy whilst as Zorro toys with him. It means you constantly have a smile on your face as for all the action you know you are never far from something amusing.
But of course the heart of a Zorro movie is the action, the swordfights and "The Mark of Zorro" is a real treat for those like me who enjoy watching actors fight. Whilst there are scenes in "The Mark of Zorro" which feature a stuntman the big scene which sees Diego and Pasquale cross swords is magnificent with both Powers and Rathbone showing immense skill with a sword. It makes it exciting watching actors really going for it with speed and agility whilst also keeping up the fun side of things to make it playfully exciting as well.
And it is not just the swordfights where Tyrone Powers impresses because he delivers such a great performance throughout be it whilst as Diego acting a dandy or whilst as Zorro acting all sexy. Powers is not the only good performance and Rathbone is equally good as Captain Pasquale whilst J. Edward Bromberg is just the right amount of amusing as Quintero. Plus of course there is the beauty of Linda Darnell as Lolita who in fairness other than being beautiful doesn't have a lot to do but in the few scenes where her character has a role to play Darnell is believable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Mark of Zorro" is a great old fashioned action movie for those who enjoy the great sword fighting movies. And it is a pure treat to watch Tyrone Powers as Zorro be it when he is doing battle or when he is oozing charisma as the dashing Don Diego.