Snitz Edwards in The Mark of Zorro 1920 00

   Snitz Edwards


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.

Silent screen icon Douglas Fairbanks mostly appeared in exuberant comedies before he took the lead in this adaptation of Johnston McCully’s legendary adventure novel. The star’s incredible athletic prowess and fast paced direction from Fred Niblo helped make it a blockbuster, cementing Fairbanks’ reputation as the premier swashbuckler of his day. Although Don Diego masquerades as a foppish noble by day, by night he transforms into the masked hero Zorro, who romances the beautiful Lolita as he does battle with the corrupt forces of a Mexican governor that oppress the natives of his village.

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.



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Snitz Edwards in The Mark of Zorro 1920 06 

   Snitz Edwards can't muster the courage to open the inn door