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The Bold Caballero

USA 1936
produced by
Nat Levine for Republic
directed by Wells Root
starring Robert Livingston, Heather Angel, Sig Ruman, Ian Wolfe, Robert Warwick, Emily Fitzroy, Charles Stevens, Walter Long, Ferdinand Munier, Chris-Pin Martin, Carlos De Valdez, Soledad Jiménez
screenplay by Wells Root, based on characters created by Johnston McCulley, music by Karl Hajos

Zorro, Republic's Zorro

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Zorro

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Commandante Golle (Sig Ruman) rules Spanish California under his iron fist, especially exploiting the natives, imposing huge taxes on them and threatening to force them to work in his goldmines otherwise. But the natives have an avenger of their own, masked highwayman Zorro (Robert Livingston), who thwarts the Commandante's plans to be even meaner time and again - but when Zorro's captured (but weirdly enough not unmasked, the hopes of the natives start to vane ... until the Commandante gets a letter that a Governor from Spain (Robert Warwick) will arrive the next day to take over from him - which would destroy everything ...

Zorro is indeed Don Diego Vega (also Robert Livingston of course), an effeminate good-for-nothing who soon enough tries to get a job with the Governor while at the same time wooing his daughter Isabella (Heather Angel) - which the Governor doesn't like one bit, thus he decides to use Don Diego as a bait for Zorro ... and weirdly enough, the Governor is killed a short time after that, by someone who left the mark of Zorro, even if Zorro will later insist it wasn't him.

When Isabella, the heiress of her father when it comes to the role of governor, arrives at the Commandante's place, she finds it in a desolate state, and Don Diego now teams up with the Commandante and persuades him to woo Isabella - with his help - to eventually retain control over California. At the same time though he also tries to show Isabella in which horrible way the Commandante handles the natives, and Isabella has sympathy ... until she hears the name of their avenger, Zorro, whom she still thinks the murderer of her father.

The Commandante arranges a bullfight, with a handful of natives as cannonfodder, just to smoke Zorro out, but when Isabella sees there's a kid among the natives, she begs Don Diego to intervene, which he does ... which leads to him and Isabella confessing their love to one another, which in turn drives the Commandante so angry he challenges Don Diego to a duel, which Don Diego wins, but for some reason he leaves the mark of Zorro on his adversary. Then he makes a getaway, but not without telling Isabella where to meet him. Isabella though, now knowing he's Zorro, sides with the Commandante to capture Don Diego ... and is captured by the Commandante herself as well, who figures if he can put the blame of her eventual murder on Zorro, he could get rid of all his problems in one go ... but of course, Don Diego manages to escape thanks to Isabella's chaperone (Emily Fitzroy) - and eventually leads the natives to an uprising (in drag - he's still in the chaperone's outfit) to see to it that all the baddies get their just dessert and he his deserved girl.

 

The very first Zorro movie with both sound and colour (Magnacolor) is a rather mixed bag of goodies: On one hand, the script's at times really witty, some of the performances are pretty good (especially Heather Angel and Sig Ruman), the Zorro costume looks suitably eerie, and while taking many liberties it remains true to the spirit of the source material. On the other hand though, the direction's rather static, the story's quite predictable, Robert Livingston is rather wooden in the lead, and there's simply too little Zorro and too much Don Diego in the movie. And the very limited sets and production values just fail to put it in league with the Douglas Fairbanks or Tyrone Powers versions of the story, or even Republic's Zorro Rides Again from one year later - but at least fans of the character as such should get a mild kick out of this one.

 

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD