Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

For a little bit of good, old-fashioned fun with a classic hero, we now have the 1940 film The Mark Of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Basil Rathbone!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Snow Place Like Home (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 14 seconds)

Popeye and Olive are caught in a tornado that takes them WAY up north from Miami, where they run into the now lovestruck Pierre. Another formulaic cartoon of Popeye vs. Bluto (well, Pierre in this instance) as they fight over Olive. Some recycled gags here and there, but I enjoyed a few good laughs here just the same! The formula may be getting old, but the chemistry still manages to make up for it just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) has been in Spain, training at a military academy and becoming a famous swordsman, when he is summoned home by his father, the alcalde. Upon arriving home, he sees the people suffering, and they look upon him with horror when he claims to be the son of the alcalde. He is relieved to find that it is not his father causing trouble, but instead Don Luis Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg) is in charge as the new alcalde, with the aid of Captain Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone) and his guards, who are overtaxing the people. Diego is clever, and quick to put on an act to convince them he is no threat to them at all (and keeps the act going even amongst family and friends, much to their dismay). Since his father and the other caballeros can’t do anything against the alcalde and his garrison of troops, Diego goes out as the bandit Zorro, stealing the gold back from the troops and handing it off to Friar Felipe (Eugene Pallette) to disperse to the peasants. Zorro tries to convince the alcalde to resign, leave and appoint Diego’s father, Don Alejandro Vega (Montagu Love), as the new alcalde. Of course, Capt. Esteban won’t let Don Luis resign, and instead suggests an arranged marriage between Don Luis’ niece, Lolita Quintero (Linda Darnell), and Diego, in an attempt at peace. Diego’s parents are less than thrilled, but he had already developed feelings for her when he met her under the guise of Zorro, and wants to go along with it. In front of everyone else, he keeps his act going (which annoys Lolita), but in private, he reveals himself as Zorro, much to her happiness. However, Capt. Esteban discovers the loot Zorro had hidden with Friar Felipe and arrests him, forcing Diego to make one final push with Don Luis.

The Mark Of Zorro was based on the story The Curse Of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, which had been turned into a movie, also called The Mark Of Zorro, nearly twenty years earlier featuring Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro. While the 1940 version supposedly isn’t as faithful (honestly, I can’t say how much, as I’ve never read the story or seen the earlier film yet and am going off what I have heard elsewhere), it still helped maintain the legend of Zorro as a hero onscreen. Of course, the story would again be re-made as a made-for-TV movie in 1974 with Frank Langella taking over as Diego/Zorro.

Frankly, I had fun with this movie. I had first seen it nearly a decade ago, mainly renting the DVD from Netflix. I enjoyed it then, and while it has taken me a long time to be able to see it again, it was still just as fun! I can see so much more clearly now some of the various Robin Hood connections, since we have villains overtaxing the peasants and a hero who takes from rich government to give back to the poor. Of course, the connections are strongest with the 1938 movie The Adventures Of Robin Hood, since it brings in some of that film’s cast, like Eugene Pallette and Basil Rathbone in similar roles, as well as Montagu Love (although he changed from being an oppressor to being one of the oppressed). A very enjoyable movie, and the duel between Tyrone Power and champion fencer Basil Rathbone is a lot of fun! Admittedly, we don’t see a lot of real action for Zorro, as he is usually on the run, taking the money from the guards or threatening the alcalde, and the climactic duel is actually between Diego and Captain Esteban, but that works just fine for me! I know I have seen this film, the made-for-TV remake and the two Antonio Banderas films at this point, but this one so far ranks as my favorite Zorro film, and for that reason alone, it comes highly recommended from me!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jesse James (1939) – Tyrone Power

The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1939) – Basil Rathbone – International Lady (1941)

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) – Eugene Pallette – The Lady Eve (1941)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… Jesse James (1939)

Now that it’s 2019, let’s start off the 80th anniversary of many movies from 1939 with the movie Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power in the title role and Henry Fonda as his brother Frank James.

The railroad is going around buying up people’s land (and not exactly honestly, either). When they come to the home of the James family, they find they are not able to make them sell the land. They try to get the James brothers arrested, but when they run, the house gets destroyed while their mother is in it. This sets Jesse and his brother off on a crusade to rob the railroad. Jesse’s girlfriend, Zerelda “Zee” Cobb convinces him to marry her and turn himself in in exchange for a light sentence. However, once he is in jail, the railroad president tries to change things around so that he would be hanged. Frank helps him escape from jail, and Zee joins them as they go on the run. However, when she gives birth to Jesse’s son, she decides to come home. Jesse lets her, but then starts taking more chances, and makes enemies even of friends that had supported him previously.

I enjoyed this movie very much. To me, it seems like it starts out as a “Robin Hood”-type story, with the railroad people taking the land from the farmers, and Jesse James and his brother start to fight back, with the support of the people. Then the movie diverges, warning about Jesse getting so used to robbing that that might be all he can do. Zee realizes this, and tries to get him to turn himself in. After some thought, he is willing to do so. However, when he does turn himself in, the president of the railroad decides to break his own promise and try to hang him. In the process, he just makes the situation worse, not just for himself, but everybody (of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise, considering what the men he sent to buy the land from the farmers were doing under his leadership). One can only imagine how much better the situation would have been (in the movie) if the bank president had only been a better leader overall, not just in his dealings with the James brothers, but with all the other landowners as well.

Now, I don’t know enough about Jesse James to know how historically accurate this movie is. I know one of Jesse’s real-life granddaughters was hired as a technical advisor for the movie, but I have otherwise heard that the movie is still inaccurate. Personally, I don’t really care, as I enjoy this movie very much. I mainly watched it for Tyrone Power in the title role, as I have seen a few of his other movies, and enjoyed them (and this movie being from 1939, long considered to be one of the best years in Hollywood, certainly helps). I do know that this movie had a sequel, The Return Of Frank James, with Henry Fonda reprising his role as Frank James, but I have yet to see this movie. But I do recommend Jesse James to anybody curious enough to try it!

The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Tyrone Power – The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

Spawn Of The North (1938) – Henry Fonda – Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Brian Donlevy – The Great McGinty (1940)

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Gene Lockhart – The Sea Wolf (1941)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!