THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940) B/W 93m dir: Rouben Mamoulian
w/Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Pallette, J. Edward Bromberg, Montagu Love, Janet Beecher, Robert Lowery, Chris-Pin Martin
From The Movie Guide: "A smashing remake of the Douglas Fairbanks silent swashbuckler, this remarkable action film owes everything to inventive director Mamoulian. This was Fox's answer to Warner's THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, with some of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL thrown in for good measure.
"In a role that perfectly combines his feyness and machismo, Power is marvelous as the fop by day and brave avenger by night. Returning to 19th-century Los Angeles, Don Diego (Power) finds that his father Don Alejandro (Love) has been replaced as governor by the slimy Don Luis Quintero (Bromberg) and the cruel Capt. Pasquale (Rathbone). Shortly after the mincing Don Diego has convinced the powers that be that he's nothing to worry about, the dashing, heroic but mysterious Zorro begins righting wrongs left and right, leaving his mark (literally) on everything ... and everyone. Who says the pen is mightier than the sword?
"Power cuts a stylish and convincing Zorro, vigorously playing the brilliant swordsman, although his more strenuous routines are performed by stunt double Albert Cavens. Mamoulian cleverly cuts in and out of his terse scenes to suggest more action than really occurs. The final deadly confrontation between Rathbone and Power is a thrilling duel no less exciting than the final contretemps between Errol Flynn and Rathbone in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. Rathbone is terrific as the villain, always fondling his sword, prepared at any moment to draw blood for sport or sadistic amusement. 'Most men have objects they play with,' Rathbone remarks in one scene. 'Churchmen have their beads; I toy with a sword.' Love is as sturdy as ever, the paunchy Bromberg and the sleek Sondergaard are a delight as the sleazy rulers, and the unique Pallette gets to reprise his performance as Friar Tuck from ROBIN HOOD. Darnell doesn't get to do much more than glow in soft focus, but she does show lush promise beneath the prim dictates of her role.
"Skilled swordsman Rathbone paid Power a supreme compliment: 'Power was the most agile man with a sword I've ever faced before a camera. Tyrone could have fenced Errol Flynn into a cocked hat.' There have been other Zorros, of course. Yakima Canutt, the great stuntman, played the role in 1937 in ZORRO RIDES AGAIN; Frank Langella had a swipe at the part in a middling 1974 TV-movie; and George Hamilton overplayed the double-sided nature of the tale's hero to the point of cheap homophobic caricature in ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE. But none would ever equal Power. He looked and acted like a man who could, with bold acts and brave heart, change the course of history. And, of course, for the burgeoning coffers of Fox, he did."
The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Score (Alfred Newman).