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Before the 1920 silent classic "The Mark of Zorro," Douglas Fairbanks had made a series of comedy-dramas like "Flirting With Fate" and "A Modern Musketeer" where he could show off his athletic abilities as a cheerful All-American hero. But in "The Mark of Zorro" he tried his hand at swashbuckling for the first time and quickly became the premier action hero of his day in films such as "The Three Musketeers," "Robin Hood" and "The Thief of Bagdad." The character of Zorro had only appeared the year before in "All-Story Weekly" with Johnston McCulley's five-part serial "The Curse of Capistrano." Fairbanks adapted the story himself for the screen (under the name Elton Thomas), telling the story of the foppish Don Diego Vega and his dashing masked alter-ego, Senor Zorro. The story is set in the California of the 1820's, where Don Diego has no success in courting the beautiful Lolita (Marguerite de la Motte), who only has eyes for that vigorous Zorro fellow. When Lolita and her family are imprisoned by the corrupt Governor Alvarado (George Periolat) and his evil henchman, Captain Ramon (Robert McKim), Zorro rallies the caballeros to join him in saving the day, the girl and the rest of California in the bargain. This is one of the finest adventure films of the silent era, with plenty of "swording" for those of us who like such things. Zorro owes something to the Scarlet Pimpernel in creating the superhero stereotype of the ineffectual secret identity who turns into a crusader for justice such as Clark Kent/Superman, Bruce Wayne/Batman, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, etc. If you are a fan of either the silent era or swashbuckling, then sooner or later you have to ride the path of justice with Fairbank's Zorro.
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on May 1, 2002
I am afraid that silent movies are not for every taste. But complaining about a silent movie being bad because it is, well, silent is like complaining that a talking movie is bad because it, well, talks.
As with any entertainment from a different era, silent films require patience and an open mind to get the proper feel of. Some people can do this, some people can't, that does not make either side an inferior species.
After having just rewatched this film, I must say that I still find it quite enjoyable. (I have seen every readily available version of Zorro) This is still the best of the lot in my opinion for several reasons. First, no pretentions. Second, very good action. Third, wildly imaginative stunts for the time.
I do hope you will give this movie a fair chance, silent films are a fascinating intellectual challenge to a modern filmgoer and will widen your film appreciation. Set your mind back to 1920 and savour the taste of the era.
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on November 11, 2001
This is the definitive Fairbanks vehicle and quite possibly the finest silent action movie ever made. Of course, Fairbanks is known for his imaginative stunts but the duels and chases in this movie are incredible even by Fairbanks standards.
The plot is a familiar one, Don Diego is a seemingly foppish landowner who dons a black mask and fights evil as Zorro. Fairbanks's talent for comedy is well exploited here. His juevenile antics as Don Diego drive everyone, including his leading lady, nuts. (A running gag is for Don Diego to take out a hanky, ask his audience if they have seen this one, and will proceed to do a very silly trick with it.)
Of course, once he's Zorro the fighting is furious. The duels easily rival the action sequences of modern movies. And the grand finale, a chase across the rooftops, in and out of windows, up walls, over fences, etc. etc. was so amazing that I had to see it again to believe it.
Just one last note, if you have never seen a silent movie before keep in mind that the acting style is totally different from talkies. Movements are exagerated for affect. The soundtrack can be overwhelming at first. But once you get used to them, they are a very refreshing breather from modern movies. Let this movie be your introduction to the unrivalled swashbuckler, Douglas Fairbanks sr.
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on March 9, 2001
Don't get me wrong, "The Mark of Zorro" is a classic of the silent era. My rating is for this particular video version which I got when I thought I was ordering a restored version of same. Despite the skillful design of package, the video it contains is a different story. First off THERE IS NO MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT...This is a truly silent film, so unless you would like to experiment with adding your own soundtrack I'd pass. But even if you chose that option, it brings us to the other big problem which is the horrble quality of the video transfer.It looks as though it were video camera filming a projection. This is NOT the tape with the restored tints, and the print is inferior at best. Still, the box IS nice...
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on July 13, 1999
Douglas Fairbanks brings a verve and joy to this movie. He does many if not all his own stunts and makes the dashing swashbuckler a believable guy. I have always enjoyed this rendition, and as the years go by the actors playing Zorro only got worse. Although Ty Power and Guy Williams did well, the rest don't come close. You see what a good silent film actor can do with body language and facial expressons.
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on December 4, 2004
Fairbanks made this movie around 1920 when he was just starting out. He did all his own stunts, and knowing this made it that much cooler watching him go go go. Fairbanks plays painfully awkward nobleman Don Diego and his alter-ego Zorro - the champion of the downtrodden. In both disguises he courts the lovely Lolita.

This movie has the blend of action and humor that will be familiar from more modern Zorro movies. The very very geeky Don Diego provides some comic relief, especially when courting Lolita. And of course Zorro plays plenty of tricks on the Spanish Governor and his guards. But the real draw here are the stunts. There is lots of swinging on ropes and chandaliers and lots of sword fighting.

This is very watchable now and the stunts were frequent and impressive. It is an excellent and enjoyable movie. It is also silent, so be aware cause if you aren't expecting it that could be weird.
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VINE VOICEon July 28, 2006
Though lacking the handsome production values of its 1940 counterpart, the original "Mark of Zorro" is great fun. This 1920 adaptation of Johnston McCulley's "The Curse of Capistrano" propelled Douglas Fairbanks from light comedian to adventure star. Inventive action sequences and a vigorous pace make this Doug's most enjoyable feature-length vehicle. For comic-book artist Bob Kane, the film was a major influence in the creation of Batman.
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on October 3, 1998
Last Thursday, I got "The Mark of Zorro", starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and I have already seen it. I loved it!
I especially loved the way Fairbanks played the dual role of Don Diego Vega/Zorro. Don Diego's lifelessness was oftentimes amusing, and so were those magic tricks of his. And I loved seeing the practical jokes Zorro played on Sergeant Gonzales. Oh, and could Zorro ever woo Senorita Lolita Pulido!
The acting was probably very good for a 1920s movie (though quite frankly, this is the first time I really saw a silent film, so I don't have much to compare it to), though the performance of Marguerite de la Motte as Lolita, in particular, is slightly melodramatic at times. Still, it's a minor complaint, and it didn't keep me from loving the movie and from wanting to watch it often. END
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on January 3, 2013
I think there are about seven versions of this same movie on dvd. I have three of them. The first one I'll talk about is from Image Entertainment. The cover portrays Zorro on the floor holding a woman in one arm while wielding a sword in his opposite hand and a military person standing upright. This one has a run time of 1:28:18. It is presented in various tints of sepia, blue, and green, and seems to be the only one that has the original title cards. The music is provided by an organ/synthesiser. Next we have the version from Rialto Media. The run time is 1:29:26. It also is presented in the same tints as the Image Entertainment disc. The music is provided by a 13 piece orchestra known as the Paragon Orchestra, which they claim is the actual soundtrack intended for this movie. And finally we have the Alpha Video version. It's run time is 1:37:12. Its is presented in Black and White. The music provided seems to come from a variety of sources close to that time period. Some of it sounds like the style of music heard in Laurel and Hardy/ The Little Rascals. Some of it is traditional classical music. And some of it is the type of music heard during action sequences of the old cliffhanger serials. A word about the covers. Both the Rialto Media and Alpha Video have similar covers of Zorro standing next to a wine barrel. The Alpha Video is the more colorful of the two.
Now that I've given some basic facts I am going to give you my opinion. Personally of the three I like the Alpha Video best. It has a surprisingly beautifully restored picture (not common with Alpha Video) presented in glorious Black and White. I even like the music provided. It does abruptly break from time to time, but it does add a dimension of excitement lacking in the other two. While the Image version and the Rialto version have an 18 chapter scene select and the Alpha only has 6, I enjoy the Alpha version best. I hope this little review provided a little help for you in making a selection. Thank You.
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on January 1, 2004
The only silent film I have enjoyed as much as I enjoy the best of modern film is Buster Keaton's The General, but Douglas Fiarbanks' The Mark of Zorro holds up better than most silents. The original music by Jon C. Mirsalis adds a lot. The sequal, Don Q., Son of Zorro, is even better than "Mark", so be sure to buy the two films on one DVD from King Video.
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