The History Of Zorro

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The character of Zorro has captured the fancy of every generation since his humble beginnings on the pages of a pulp novel in 1919. For over five decades, young and old alike around the world have been infatuated with the brave and gallant swordsman who rights wrongs and defends the weak and oppressed. The Mask of Zorro is based on the character created by Johnston McCulley, a police reporter who wrote pulp fiction stories on the side. McCulleys Zorro (Spanish for fox) was a compilation of Englands fictitious Scarlet Pimpernel and notorious real-life figures such as the California outlaw Joaquin Murieta, who fought gold-rushers who overran Mexican settlements; Salomon Maria Simeon Pico, a highwayman who was part villain, part Robin Hood; and Jose Maria Avila, a bandit and passionate Mexican revolutionary. Zorro first appeared in McCulleys serialized novel The Curse of the Capistrano. Soon thereafter, the black-masked avenger became a screen legend when Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., portrayed him in the 1920 silent film The Mark of Zorro.

Two decades later, Tyrone Power starred in a successful remake of The Mark of Zorro with Basil Rathbone and Linda Darnell. Republic Pictures also featured the character in five 12-chapter film serials beginning with Zorro Rides Again in 1937. In 1957, Walt Disney introduced the Zorro television series, starring Guy Williams, which became one of the most popular shows of the Golden Age of Television. In 1975, French actor Alain Delon appeared as the famous masked swordsman in another big screen adaptation. In a charming return to the Old World romanticism and Old West themes embodied by Zorros of the past, The Mask of Zorro marks the first major Hollywood theatrical production of Zorro in over 40 years. To bring the new film to the screen, Steven Spielbergs Amblin Entertainment, in association with TriStar Pictures, acquired the rights from the Gertz family, which had purchased them from McCulley in 1950. Although based on McCulleys well-known character, The Mask of Zorro is very different from previous interpretations of the story. Ours is not the traditional story of Zorro being a noblemans son, says Director Martin Campbell. Our story has much more to do with a Merlin/King Arthur type of relationship, where an older Zorro trains a younger man to become his successor. The actor whom all agreed was capable of bringing these qualities to the production was Antonio Banderas. Antonio has all the attributes I wanted for Zorro, says Campbell. He is a very fine actor-dashing and physical as well-who easily conveys compassion and has a great sense of humor. If ever there was a perfect Zorro, it is Antonio. The filmmakers were ecstatic when Anthony Hopkins agreed to join the cast as de la Vega. Tony Hopkins was the icing on the cake, says Producer Doug Claybourne. Adds Campbell, Hes the nobility in the film. He brings tremendous weight and depth to the character. Banderas was equally ...

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