Written in ink, etched in stone, or carved in a man’s flesh, the letter “Z” can mean only one thing: Zorro has struck again. Wonderfully portrayed by Tyrone Power in 1940’s black and white classic The Mark of Zorro, the Mexican vigilante is a hero for the ages. Playing the role of the fop, the fool, the coward, Diego Vega is never suspected of being the masked swordsman fighting for justice. Son of Alejandro Vega, former alcalde of the district of Los Angeles, Diego returns home after an extended stay in Spain to find his hometown greatly changed.
Forced out of office by the avaricious yet bumbling Luis Quintero and his dastardly henchman Capitan Esteban Pasquale, the elder Vega still refuses to lead a revolt against them. His son holds no such scruples. Dressed all in black, complete with black mask, he aids the weak and oppressed and opposes those who abuse their power. The weak and cowardly Quintero soon fears for his life and decides to flee the country. Pasquale, being made of firmer stuff, is determined to destroy Zorro.
Diego’s act fools his own parents and even Friar Felipe, his boyhood mentor. In between terrorizing Quintero and robbing the rich to aid the poor, he still finds time to romance the current alcalde’s wife Inez – with 2 ulterior motives. First, it allows him to dazzle her with stories of the Spanish court’s grandeur and she in turn begs her husband to take her away from this provincial life and back to civilization. Secondly, it brings him closer to the true object of his affections: Quintero’s niece Lolita. Lolita, being smitten with Zorro’s courage and heroism, has no time for the foppish Diego Vega. How he wins her heart, defeats the villainous tyrants, and proves himself to his father is classic Hollywood at its best. Filled with adventure, humor, and romance, and capped off with a rousing ending, The Mark of Zorro is a classic the whole family will enjoy.
(P. S. If you can find it, watch the colorized version. The color brings out details that are easy to miss in the black and white original.)