Top positive review
14 of 14 people found this helpful
Douglas Fairbanks decides to try swashbuckling in a film
on December 29, 2001
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.