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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Swords > Mark of Zorro – Special Edition (1940/Fox DVD)

Mark of Zorro – Special Edition (1940)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B+     Film: B



There are perhaps two interesting pieces of trivia that coincide with this particular film.  One is the fact that it’s directed by Rouben Mamoulian, which is not anything special, but it’s interesting to note that he is the director of Laura (although uncredited for his role) and would also be replaced on two other films of note, those being Porgy and Bess and 1963’s Cleopatra.  The other interesting piece of trivia for this film is that it happens to be the same film that, according to DC Comics and not the film versions of Batman, is the film that a young Bruce Wayne and his parents walk out of before they are murdered.  However, Mark of Zorro is now re-released to DVD as a Special Edition for more obvious reasons, that being the release of a modern version of the film, a follow-up if you will, entitled The Legend of Zorro.


There are two things that are quite interesting about this particular DVD from Fox.  The first is that the front cover is almost made to look more like a modern film, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few people picked up this DVD thinking it was a modern film, maybe they thought it WAS the film with Antonio Banderas.  On one hand I give Fox props for freshening up the packaging for a cooler look because sometimes-older films get lame covers.  On the other hand I wonder if Fox did this partially on purpose and that eludes to the second interesting thing about this DVD release, which is that the film is presented in both color and the original black & white.


This is a flipper disc from Fox and the black & white version is on one side and the identically film is available on the other side, only colorized.  Both images are full frame 1.33 X 1 transfers and I am only endorsing the monochromatic version since that was clearly the way the film was shot and intended to be seen and experienced.  However, I took a skim through the color version, which does display some interesting color, but unfortunately does not show off some of the great contrast and dimension of the black & white version.  In color it appears more flat and also a bit fluffier instead of serious and adventurous.  I do understand that there are people that will find the film more accessible in color, so it wasn’t altogether a bad idea to make the film available in both ways so that the viewer has the choice.


Sound is available here in both Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 1.0 mono, which is adequate enough for the films age.  Richard Schickel’s commentary makes for a great addition to this film along with the A&E Biography on Tyrone Power, which is a great watch especially for those that are more familiar with his Noir films.  Our copy came with an envelop of artsy pictures inside the DVD case.  Overall this is a terrific set that appeals on various levels to various types of viewers making it widely accessible.



-   Nate Goss


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