|Tyrone Power in full Zorro guise.|
There may be some of you that argue The Mark of Zorro isn't really a swashbuckler film at all. You would be wrong, of course. The setting may be Los Angeles in the early 19th century, but the plot and sword fights are straight out of Sherwood Forest with perhaps a dash of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Power plays Diego de Vega, a Spanish officer-in-training known for his prowess with a sword and his cocky attitude (due to his American upbringing, his nickname is the California Cockerel). When Diego's father suddenly calls him back to California, the dispirited young man tells his friends: "Think of me in the land of gentle missions, happy peons, sleepy caballeros, and everlasting boredom."
|Diego playing the aristocratic dandy.|
|No, Eugene Pallette is not playing Friar Tuck!|
|Power and Rathbone cross swords.|
|Linda Darnell dressed in black and white.|
Michael Curtiz might have directed a more lively film, but Rouben Mamoulian adds his own distinctive touches. His use of deep black contrasted against white is highly effective, especially when Zorro makes his first appearance--dressed head to foot in black aboard his black stallion as he rides swiftly through a sleepy village filled with drab off-white colors. (I have no idea why Fox bothered to colorize the film for one of its DVD releases, thereby ruining Mamoulian's photography.)
The success of The Mark of Zorro led to other action hero roles for Power (e.g., Captain from Castille, Prince of Foxes, The Black Rose). Zorro continued to be a popular character and has been played by: Guy Williams (in a Walt Disney TV series); Frank Langella (in a made-for-TV movie); George Hamilton (in a spoof); Antonio Banderas; and others.