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Directed by Fred Niblo
Produced by Douglas Fairbanks
Scenario by Eugene Miller, based on the short story “The Curse of Capistrano” by Johnston McCulley
Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte, Robert McKim, Noah Beery, Snitz Edwards
Cinematography William McGann and Harry Thorpe
Distributed by United Artists
Release date December 5, 1920
Running time 107 min.
Country United States
Language Silent film, English intertitles
"The Mark of Zorro" (1920) is a historical romantic drama and a swashbuckler starring Douglas Fairbanks and featuring Snitz Edwards, a star of Silent Hall of Fame.
Here is a review of the film, written by our esteemed member Zach Snow.
Using the bare bones of McCully’s story, veteran filmmaker Niblo developed a rowdy adventure which was also the first feature length endeavor released through United Artists. The enormous success of his film ensured the company’s prime status in early Hollywood and established Niblo as the leading action director of his day due to his ability to combine exciting stunt sequences with a minimal story that never intrudes on the spectacle. His film would set the standard for all other adventures about masked marauders, from later interpretations of the Zorro character to DC comics character Batman, though few others have played that type with quite the charm, charisma, or boundless energy of the great Douglas Fairbanks.
Establishing the sort of cheerful action hero he would continue to play in similar productions like Robin Hood, Fairbanks darts up mansion walls, sword fights while eating fruit from a table, and charms viewers every bit as much as he does the oppressed villagers he saves from tyranny. The rest of the cast can’t really compete with the star, although the pretty Marguerite De La Motte is charming enough as the noblewoman in distress he romances as both Zorro and Don Diego. Charles Hill Mailes plays the put-upon father of the girl and Claire McDowell her mother, while Noah Beery is appropriately bombastic as the insidious soldier Zorro must do battle with during the exciting climax.
The incredible success of this blockbuster set Fairbanks on the path to becoming the most successful action star of the 1920s, while the influence of Niblo’s relatively low-budgeted excursion can be felt on all other adventures to follow in its wake.
You can find more of Zach Snow's work here.
The film is ranked number 47 in the list of The Top 100 Silent Era Films of the influential website Silent Era.
Click to enlarge:
The Mark of Zorro
A soldier shows the mark on his face in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards, the Short Innkeeper, cringes at the sight of the maimed soldier in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards prepares to serve wine to the guests in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards hears noises outside the inn in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards gets a little fearful when he is called to open the door for an unknown visitor in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards gets a little more fearful when he is called to open the door for an unknown visitor in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards gets mighty fearful when he is called to open the door for an unknown visitor in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards opens the door as Noah Beery is ready to charge in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Douglas Fairbanks faces off with Noah Beery in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Marguerite De La Motte meets Douglas Fairbanks in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Marguerite De La Motte meets the other Douglas Fairbanks in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Marguerite De La Motte gets some unwanted advances from Robert McKim in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Douglas Fairbanks squares off with Robert McKim in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards serves drinks to guests at the inn in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Douglas Fairbanks earns Noah Beery's support as Robert McKim lies vanquished in "The Mark of Zorro" (1920).
Snitz Edwards can't muster the courage to open the inn door
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