Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Mark of Zorro (1974)

Director: Don McDougall

Starring: Frank Langella, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Louise Sorel, Robert Middleton, Anne Archer, Yvonne De Carlo

More info: IMDb

Plot: The swishing fop Don Diego de la Vega becomes the swashbuckling masked hero Zorro when tyranny threatens his people in nineteenth-century California.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Once was fine.

The first three names in the cast are all I need to slap this one in. That it's a Zorro picture is a bonus. You can tell from the opening minutes that this feels like a TV movie which cheapens it juuuuust a little. Langella does an alright job as the masked one (he's great as his unmasked alter ego but you can tell he's struggling with disguising his voice when the mask is on) and it's really neat seeing Gilbert Roland as his father (I just saw him the night before in CAPTAIN KIDD (1945)). The coolest thing about this picture is RICARDO FUCKING MONTALBAN as the ruthless baddie, Captain Esteban. That man can make the phone book sound sexy.

I don't think he's wearing any underwear...or cares.

So, you've got Langella sounding lightly British, Roland & Montalban sounding Spanish but the two other main characters, Don Luis Quintero (the evil governor of the land played by Robert Middleton) and Padre Felipe (played by Tom Lacy) have such American accents, it's hard to take them seriously. It's jarring to say the least. Imagine watching a British Shakespeare production starring Kevin Costner. Exactly. It just doesn't fit.

Is it me or does Langella look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?

The very first notes of the theme seemed awfully familiar. I was sure I had heard it before but couldn't place it and all through the movie it all sounded so 1940s. It's a great score. It turns out that it's a re-orchestrated version of Alfred Newman's rousing score from the 1940 version of THE MARK OF ZORRO which starred Tyrone Power. Amazing as I just watched my first Tyrone Power movie right before this one AND that TMoZ was Power's first swashbuckler. Neat coincidences.

This Zorro is a very short 78 minutes which I guess is just as well but it was 78 minutes of reasonable fun with a very nice sword fight at the end and a great-as-always performance by RICARDO FUCKING MONTALBAN!

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