McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Civil War 25th Commemorative Edition DVD & Blu-ray Oct 13Aquarius: The Complete First Season DVD & Blu-ray Sep 15Justified: The Complete Series on Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13The Surface on DVD, VOD, and DIGITAL HD Sep 1

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

American Music Awards 2015: Proximity to action matters...
Brad Pitt Says He's 'Angry' at the Finance Industry Aft...
Adele Speaks Exclusively on New Music:'The Most Poignan...
'The Walking Dead' reveals Glenn's fate ...
Adele Performs on Saturday Night Live: Video ...
Blacklisted: The Inside Story of Dalton Trumbo and the ...
Ryan Seacrest Confirms All American Idol Judges Will Re...
Fargo' Preview: 5 Reasons You Should Be Watching This S...
Bruce Willis makes Broadway debut...
Entertainment industry modifies plans after Paris trage...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

 Buy from Amazon

 Buy from Amazon.com

Mont Alto Private Reserve presents
The Mark of Zorro (Mont Alto) (1920)

"I ask you--how can I fight him when he will not stand still?"
- Sgt. Gonzales (Noah Beery)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: October 13, 2008

Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte
Other Stars: Noah Beery, Robert McKin, George Periolat, Snitz Edwards
Director: Fred Niblo

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild action violence)
Run Time: 01h:47m:02s
Release Date: September 16, 2008
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-A-A+ A-

DVD Review

Since Douglas Fairbanks Sr. is today associated almost entirely with the string of costume dramas he filmed in the 1920s, it's hard to believe that he was already well-established as a comic actor. Indeed, his popularity in 1918 from his light comedy shorts rivaled even that of Charlie Chaplin. It was highly fortuitous that he turned his athletic talents to the adventure story. The first of these was the enormously influential The Mark of Zorro (1920). It not only served as the first of a series of films running 80 years and a television series, but its influence upon the comic book characters of Batman and Superman, not to mention nearly every other costumed hero, is obvious.

In old California, the governor (George Periolat) brings oppression upon the populace, seizing property at will and allowing his soldiers, led by Captain Juan Ramon (Robert McKim), to terrorize the countryside. Only one man, the mysterious masked man known as Zorro (Fairbanks), dares stand up to them. By day, Zorro is Don Diego Vega (also Fairbanks), a simpering fop given to parlor tricks and doing finger shadows. While Don Diego is unsuccessful in courting Lolita Pulido (Marguerite De La Motte), whose father is a target of Captain Ramon, she promptly falls for the dashing Zorro. Unfortunately, Captain Ramon also has his eyes on her.

This first of the Fairbanks costume dramas is a highly enjoyable romp with plenty of action and romance to please nearly any crowd. Fairbanks' comic skills serve him well in his role as the ineffective Don Diego, while his athleticism and brashness make Zorro highly appealing. Not only does he carve his trademark Z into the villains' faces with his sword, but more to the point he dares to laugh in their faces, inspiring the other caballeros to resist oppression. The swordfighting is excellent and copious, with the standouts being the duel with the hulking Sgt. Gonzales (Noah Beery) in the beginning and the final climactic fight with Capt. Ramon. Fairbanks astonishes with his physicality, fighting while seated on a table, lying on a floor, walking across furniture, and leaping from high walls. There's never a dull moment to be had, with even the minor cast members, such as Snitz Edwards as a terrified innkeeper, being highly entertaining.

Revisiting this costume drama, one is struck by how thoroughly enjoyable it is from start to finish. Fairbanks and director Fred Niblo expertly combine action, adventure, suspense, and comic relief, with none of the elements overwhelming the others. The first fight with Sgt. Gonzales is an excellent example. Gonzales is at first a serious threat, then increasingly it becomes clear he's only a blowhard. When a knock is heard at the door, he immediately falls into terror himself, only to learn it is someone with a reward poster for Zorro. Jumping back into his bravado, he is a more than deserving target when Fairbanks slips into the scene in costume, giving a broad grin, as if he knows we're all in on the joke. The combat combines amazing stunts and stunning dexterity, with a dollop of humor throughout. Fairbanks' Zorro is a laughing hero, understanding that mocking those with power is just as important as defeating them in combat.

This new edition is based on the elements held by David Shepard's Film Preservation Associates; it appears to be a new transfer. The frame rate seems right—it's neither comically fast nor drearily slow. Those who are interested will only be able to find this disc at the Mont Alto website. The limited distribution is a little unfortunate as this is probably the best presentation of this classic to date.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame presentation is a revelation. According to Mont Alto, the new transfer has no digital noise reduction applied, and it looks like it. While there's mild speckling and dust as one would expect, the fine grain of the positive print is beautifully rendered, with fine detail that's frequently exquisite. The toning is rather subtler than found on most prior discs, and it doesn't interfere with the clarity of the film proper.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0(music only)yes

Audio Transfer Review: Most discs that feature Mont Alto scores have excellent recording quality, and this compilation score is no exception. The music is firmly placed in the soundstage, with vivid immediacy. The trumpet in particular comes across beautifully here, though the violin is also frequently striking. No noise or hiss interferes. Although there are a few moments that get a shade repetitive, on the whole the compilation is very effective indeed and supports the action very well; more than once I forgot that I was listening to a score and had become totally absorbed in the film. A wonderful sonic experience that should serve as a model.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Music cues with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The General
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Rodney Sauer, Denise Morrisson and John Tibbetts
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Gallery of John Tibbetts' Fairbanks Artwork
Extras Review: I've previously complained that prior releases of Fairbanks' movies, especially this one, have been released without commentaries or suitable supporting materials. I need complain no more. This disc offers an excellent commentary from author John Tibbets, film festival organizer Denise Morrisson, and Rodney Sauer, who is pianist for the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and also compiled the score for this version. They have a lively chat that offers plenty of histor, detals, and thematic and musical analysis without ever becoming dry or pedantic. The threesome obviously love the movie, and it shows.

For those interested in such compilation scores, there's a handy subtitle feature that tells what all of the various pieces being played are. Sauer also hosts a featurette, A Practical Guide to Film Scoring (3m:58s), which gives a look at the process. It's only regrettable in its brevity.

A gallery offers a look at various pieces of striking period-style Fairbanks artwork by Tibbetts, and there's a trailer for Mont Alto's release of The General (which I don't believe is an original trailer, but a selection of scenes in support of the DVD), a similarly excellent release.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

An attractive look at the origins of the modern superhero, with Fairbanks' trademark acrobatics and swordplay already fully developed. The transfer is excellent, and the disc supplies some first-rate extras.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


american music awards, talor swift, one direction, jennifer lopez, selena gomez, nicki minaj, justin bieber, movie, the big short, steve carell, ryan gosling, christian bale, michael lewis, brad pitt, music, adele, hello, 19, 21, 25, television, the walking dead, amc, davod alpert, glen, heads up, saturday night live, 25 album, skyfall, nrj awards, graham norton, herbert biberman, john howard lawson, lester cole, ring lardner jr., samuel ornitz, adrian scott, albert maltz, alvah bessie, edward dmytryk, dalton trumbo, reality, american idol, ryan seacrest, mariah carey, ellen degeneres, harry connick jr., keith urban, simon cowell, paula abdul, randy jackson, steven tyler, kara dioguardi, televison, fargo, fx, kirsten dunst, jesse plemons, jean smart, jeffrey donovan, bokeem woodbine, brad garrett, patrick wilson, celebrity, bruce willis, laurie metcalf, misery, broadway debut, paris tragedy, u2, foo fighters, steven spielberg, natalie portman, book, the diary of anne frank, otto frank, swiss foundation, daytime talk, 2000 shows, justin timberlake, jennifer aniston, sequel, animated, finding nemo, finding dory, disney-pixar, diane keaton, eugene levy, inventor, hedy lamarr, google doodle, ecstasy, samson and delilah, bbc music, angelina jolie pitt, by the sea, troubled marriage, mr. & mrs. smith, gwen stefani blake shelton, country music awards, the voice, miranda lambert, jon stewart, john oliver, hbo, wonder woman, nicole kidman, amazonian warrior, gal gadot, chris pine, nick lachey, 98 degrees, pot grower, ohio, nanette lepore, oscar robertson, frostee rucker, the red bulletin, james bond, daniel craig, naomi harris, bond girl, a. o. scott, 1977, star wars, elvis, beatles, sesame street, j.k. rowling, israel, palestine, culture for coexistence, harry potter and the deathly hallows, ricky gergais, 2016 golden globes, hollywood foreign press association, jessica biel, 2015 fashion group international night of stars gala, flip phone, the power of love, huey lewis, michael j. fox, back to the future, carrie, bipolar disorder, quinn, saul, jonas, comedy, lupus, chemotherapy, estrogen, lupus foundation of america

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store