10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fairbanks in Fine Form,
This review is from: Mark of Zorro/Don Q-Son of Zorro (DVD)
Although Kino makes no boast about print quality on the box, its print of MARK OF ZORRO seems to be from an excellent 35 mm source. This film is the first, and many say the best, of Doug Fairbanks' swashbucklers that he personally financed and produced during the 1920s. His subsequent films were more elaborate - he seemed to rival DeMille in epic production quality - but ZORRO is the most consistently energetic. Fairbanks remains in a class by himself as a superstar and he became a multi-millionaire by acting out his daydreams in films. That's nice work if you can get it!
DON Q, SON OF ZORRO is almost as good but bogs down here and there in story complications. The print quality and contrast is not as good as ZORRO and I suspect that DON Q comes from a 16 mm. print. The five years between the two films show Fairbanks' reputation as a producer having grown: DON Q looks as though it costs four times what MARK OF ZORRO cost. Jon Mirsalis' piano score is very qood and he captures everything that silent film accompaniment should be: melodic and never intrusive.
The bonus material is interesting but I wonder why KINO didn't include the five minutes or so of outtakes from DON Q that has been in circulation for years. The unidentified sound film excerpt of Fairbanks included with Orson Welles' introduction is from the 1931 talkie, REACHING FOR THE MOON. Even in the excerpt, Fairbanks seems rather constrained by the dialogue chores. When he enters a room by vaulting through the window, he lands with a "thump," showing why sound films would rob Fairbanks of the illusion of effortless agility so wonderfully masked in his silent films. Three chapters from his 1918 motivational book, Making Life Worthwhile, are included. Some say the book and others published during that time were ghostwritten for Fairbanks. In any event, I've wondered why he had nothing to say to the public during the years of the Great Depression in the 1930s when people really needed a boost.
I highly recommend this dvd as a superb example of energetic silent filmmaking and for the joy of experiencing the inimitable Doug Fairbanks personality.