I don't have all the words right now but this film is a work of art.
This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.
Let me be very fair here, this is not the best movie in my opinion. But, this movie is fun, it has purpose and is very enjoyable to watch.
Now out as Seasons One and Two DVD Collector's Tin releases by Disney; both a limited series of 30,000. Each contains an individually numbered certificate of authenticity, a 7" x 4.5" black and white publicity still of the title character, a collectible pin, a booklet about the serial, and six disks. The first season release covers the first 39 black and white episodes (there were 78 total) of the series, originally broadcast by ABC during the 1957-58 television season. Also included are two (of four) 60 minute color episodes which were broadcast as part of "Walt Disney Presents" in the fall of 1960. Season Two contains all the remaining episodes. Made in the style of old Saturday-matinée action-adventure serials; Disney began each episode with a rousing theme song about the adventures of Spanish California's most famous swordsman. Walt's success with Fess Parker's Davy Crockett miniseries paved the way for this relatively ambitious project.Out of the night, When the full moon is bright, Comes the horseman known as Zorro. This bold renegade Carves a "Z" with his blade, A "Z" that stands for Zorro.Zorro, Zorro, the fox so cunning and free, Zorro, Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z.He is polite, But the wicked take flight When they catch the sight of Zorro. He's friend of the weak, And the poor and the meek, This very unique senor Zorro.Zorro was a 1820's Mission California version of Robin Hood. Although fictional (first appearing in a 1919 five-part pulp magazine serial by Johnston McCulley) he bears a resemblance to Joaquin Murrieta, a semi-legendary outlaw who was either an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, depending on one's point of view.Guy Williams plays young Don Diego, returned to California from several years of university study in Spain with his mute manservant Bernardo (Gene Sheldon) to live with his father Don Alejandro (George J. Lewis). His newly acquired foppish ways are a disappointment to his father. But playing the wimp is simply an act as he quickly becomes the new champion of the oppressed, donning the black outfit and mask of Zorro and carving a "Z" in places that embarrass the corrupt territorial officers and political appointees.Bernardo and Sergeant Garcia (Henry Calvin) provide comic relief and would be paired a couple years later in Disney's "Toby Tyler". Disney sweetheart Annette Funicello joins the cast for some of the second season episodes.The film Zorro dates back to Douglas Fairbanks (Sr.) in the silent "Mark of Zorro" (1920). After its initial episodes the Disney entry's format becomes more like the 12-episode Republic Pictures cliffhanger serial "Zorro's Fighting Legion" (1939). "Zorro" in total is a little choppy. While many of the episodes are pieces of multi-part tales with a new set of characters; others have no link to the established time-line and are largely independent of what has gone before and what will follow. So there is not the sense of progress that held other serials together. This is more apparent when viewing this collection in broadcast order; something that was not an issue when they were showed in syndication.Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
One of the most successful of Walt Disney's television shows was the famous Zorro series. Stepping successfully into the role that Douglas Fairbanks and Tyrone Power did on the big screen as did many others was Guy Williams, an actor who perfectly fitted the concept of the dandy by day and the demon fighter for right by night.It's a pity that Guy Williams was born as late as he did. Had he been born 20 years earlier this man could easily have established himself as every inch the swashbuckling star that Errol Flynn did. Or his predecessor in the Zorro role Tyrone Power with whom Williams appeared with in Mississippi Gambler. He had looks and presence and definitely the fencing skill for the job. Williams would have been some studio's leading swashbuckling star back in the day.Zorro only lasted two seasons on the air, hard to believe. I think that Walt Disney made a mistake in marketing the show. The first season was like a long serial. It concerned a secret plot to detach California from Spain and the conspiracy was led by a man known as 'The Eagle'. Before the first season ended Zorro was constantly gumming up the mysterious Eagle's plans. Then eventually we were introduced to the Eagle and he was played by Charles Korvin. The last show of the first season was an exciting battle, maybe the best Zorro show ever produced.Then the second season happened and Disney could really do nothing to top it. The show ran out of gas and Williams himself thought himself headed for big screen stardom. It got canceled.Still I remember it fondly from childhood. Williams only confidante was his mute servant Bernardo played by Gene Sheldon whom he had pretend to be deaf as well, the better to hear things he ought. Later on Williams's father George J. Lewis playing Don Alejandro Dela Vega learned of his son Diego's masquerade. Lewis was one of many actors who also played Zorro on the big screen.Williams had some real enemies to be sure, but he also had Henry Calvin as Sergeant Garcia. Calvin was a jolly klutz of a sergeant of the local Spanish troops in the small town of Los Angeles. Calvin had a running comedy act with his corporal Don Diamond as Corporal Reyes. The two were a riot together, Diamond performed the same function here as he did in F Troop as Crazy Cat to Frank DeKova's Chief Wild Eagle. Williams also used Sheldon to learn things and occasionally give disinformation to Calvin. Calvin and Sheldon were also a funny pair.Thursday night on WABC New York was time for Zorro and in that first year to see how he would foil the dastardly Eagle's plans for an independent California. Those were the days.
This show was a real treat, both on ABC from 1957 to 1959, and on the Disney Channel, with its blend of adventure and comedy. Excellent cast!I am sorry that the series did not film further episodes, because it was superb. I saw it as a kid in syndication in 1965-66, and then again in 2002 on the Disney Channel."Zorro" had to have been the "Batman" of the late 1950s. Indeed, in the comic version of "Batman" it is Zorro whom Bruce Wayne considers his role model. After living in Texas and the Southwest, I can appreciate the series even more. I just wish Disney would bring it back, and that someone would revive the series. It was so interesting!
Mercy Bell (mercybell)
Zorro created for itself a place in history not purely on the mass hysteria of a generation of 8 year old baby boomers, but it's a quality show. It was ahead of itself in many ways, for the 50s family show at least: casting an Armand Catalino in the title role (yeah, Guy Williams, though you probably didn't know it); having a tendency to be a squirmingly gory (the list is long); using oft time complicated plots (like the 20+ episode Eagle plot); and something that is still fascinating to watch till today, a unique glimpse of a different side of California- it's history. As a native San Diegan, I appreciate that, and having grown up watching the show on Disney channel (you're looking at a generation X-er) it's amazing to find that it still captivates you from episode to episode. There's depth and content in it and the swashbuckling swordfighting, debonair flash will keep anyone captivated for long enough. That's what made it what it is... plus that Z. Swish, swish, swish!