sunday-matineeOne of my all time favourite action adventure films has recently made the leap into high def and onto Blu-ray thanks to the good folks at Kino Lorber who keep putting movies out onto Blu-ray that the bigger studios, like Fox for example, couldn’t bother with. So today’s Sunday Matinee is the 1940 The Mark of Zorro.

Zorro first appeared in the serialized story The Curse of Capistrano written by Johnston McCulley. His first on screen appearance happened a year later in 1920 with the silent classic The Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbanks (senior) in the the starring role. Fairbanks also made a sequel in 1925 called Don Q Son of Zorro. The first sound movie with Zorro happened in 1936 with the film The Bold Caballero. Zorro then appeared in two adventure movie serials before the 1940 The Mark of Zorro.

Mark of ZorroTyrone Power stars as Don Diego Vega, a young man in the early 19th century who has come home to California at his father’s instance from Spain where he was studying. Diego discovers that his father has been removed as Alcade (kind of like a governor) and a corrupt man, Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), has taken over. Diego starts to pretend that he’s a wealthy fob who cares more about clothing and manners than fighting corruption. Then at night he becomes Zorro, defender of the poor and downtrodden and scourge to the wealthy corrupt officials. Diego then falls in love with Quintero’s daughter Lolita (Linda Darnell) who finds Diego annoying but is in love with Zorro.

Zorro’s plan is force Quintero to leave California and return to Spain by terrorizing him but there’s just one problem. Quintero employs a ruthless henchman, Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone), who is a master of the sword (so was Rathbone in real life). This leads to one of the greatest sword fights scenes ever put on screen in my opinion as Power and Rathbone masterfully duel to the death. The Mark of Zorro is fantastic. There have many other Zorro movies but this is my favorite. Tyrone Power plays Diego and Zorro to perfection and Basil Rathbone is equally as menacing. It’s a cliche to say it but they really don’t make them like this anymore.

There doesn’t seem to be a trailer for this classic film available, I did manage to find a fuzzy looking one in I believe Spanish.

So here’s the classic climatic sword fight scene.