So Becca and Shoroko and I went along to the Film Forum on Monday to see Mark of Zorro (1920) as part of their Douglas Fairbanks season. This was relevant to my interests for the twinned reasons of secret identity heroics and swashbuckling swordplay. Just the kind of movie, in fact, that warms my happy place.
I said before that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes was my nomination for best Batman screen adaptation of all time. With that in mind, I think Mark of Zorro is my favorite Green Arrow screen adaptation so far. (Sorry, Arrow, but our show-fan relationship was always going to be an open one, don’t claim otherwise.)
For Zorro (aka Don Diego Vega) does in fact epitomize all the things that make Green Arrow great. He makes speeches about poverty! He has ridiculous facial hair! He isn’t very good at keeping his secret identity secret! He gets distracted by ladies a little too easily.
It’s kind of funny. After being introduced to the lady his father wants him to marry, and failing to impress him with his Blakeney esque lazy stupid persona, Diego immediately gate crashes her garden as Zorro in order to woo her properly.
Because what’s the point of being a dashing swashbuckler if you can’t use it to pick up chicks, amirite? Becca was of the opinion he had something to prove. I was of the opinion that he’s just trying to prove how RIDICULOUS he is. Which I approve of.
Of course, you know the plot. Poor people are being oppressed in California, Don Diego decides to help them out by putting on a mask, wielding a sword (and a gun – the only gun in town as far as we could tell) and giving speeches about JUSTICE. The fight scenes are proper swashbuckling – great acrobatics and foot work, lousy sword work but who cares?
I certainly don’t. I shall be running along happily to as many of the Fairbanks Festival screenings as I can, because there’s nothing like a good old fashioned swashbuckler for my money.
A warning if you decide to download this (public domain) movie – the score to the version I found is dreadful. This wasn’t a problem in the theater, where we were treated to superb live accompaniment by Steve Sterner, but you might prefer to turn the sound down.