Friday, October 28, 2005

Zorro rules!

I haven’t even seen the new Legend of Zorro yet (we’re hitting the local 12-plex on Sunday afternoon), but I’m doing a Zorro-a-thon tonight at my house. Just me — Deb’s away — a single-malt scotch, and the DVD player.

First up, Rouben Mamoulian’s 1940 The Mark of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, and the luscious Linda Darnell. This movie’s a freedom classic, so much so that it was a nominee in this year’s Hardyville Freedom Film Festival (Classics category). You know the story. Don Diego returns to 19th century Los Angeles from Madrid and finds the corrupt new governor taxing the peons literally to death. So Diego dons the mask to become Zorro and see that justice is done. It is. In spades. And I think the close-quarters swordfight between Power and Rathbone is still the best and most exciting swordfight ever filmed.

Next up is the 12-part 1939 Republic serial Zorro’s Fighting Legion. I intend to watch all three-plus hours of it tonight, if the scotch doesn’t finish me off first. I love old serials, and this one has always been my favorite. Zorro, played excellently by Reed Hadley, is joined by a band of freedom fighters to battle a fiendish, gold-armored villain who’s plotting an uprising among the Yaqui Indians so he can become Emperor of Mexico. Whew. The sword fights are so-so, but each episode, as expected, ends with a terrific cliffhanger, several of which Steven Spielberg ripped off for his Indiana Jones trilogy.

Now, if only I still had my old Zorro lunchbox from first grade (or was it pre-school?), everything would be absolutely perfect.

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