The Mark of Zorro

Director: Fred Niblo
Year Released: 1920
Rating: 2.5

When the government of Spanish California goes too far in mistreating its citizens - they even whip Franciscans! - in steps swashbucklin' Zorro (Douglas Fairbanks) who carves his initial in their faces ... except by day Zorro is just nerdy Don Diego Vega, who can't seem to find a wife (which is all his rich father asks of him).  It can't be overstated how important this movie is to the history of cinema - the audience at the time had to have seen Fairbanks slicing and dicing and swinging around on a rope and been stunned (we all know the impact it had on Bruce Wayne) - although over time its ideas have been picked clean and improved upon so this can't help but feel like a rough draft: the humor's dreadful and it's too stagey.  It's still an entertaining romp, however, and Fairbanks switches personas effortlessly.