BEST MOVIES YOU’VE NEVER SEEN: ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE

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I’ve always loved the character Zorro, including the recent comic-book series by Dynamite Comics, and this film is one of my favorite interpretations, even though it’s played more as a spoof. This comedy is from 1981 and stars George Harrison in the title role(s).

The film tells the story of Don Diego de la Vega returning to his childhood home in California from Madrid, where he finds out that his father was killed in a riding accident. Since then, Diego’s childhood friend Estaban (played by Ron Liebman) has become the new “Alacade” (basically the top law enforcement officer and politician of the region), and is blatantly corrupt. Diego finds a letter from his deceased father, which reveals that his father was the legendary Zorro, and charges whichever one of his son’s who first reads the letter to carry on the tradition. Initially, Diego just plans to wear the costume to attend one of Esteban’s lavish costume balls, but he inadvertently gets involved in stopping what he thinks is a crime, but turns out to be one of the corrupt tax collectors who was abusing a peasant, and now Diego has committed to being the new Zorro.

But then Diego breaks his foot, and is unable to continue his vigilante activities. Luckily, Diego’s twin brother Ramon (also played by Hamilton) arrives. Ramon has been away in England and has changed his name to Bunny Wiggleworth, and is clearly a flamboyant homosexual (although that’s never specifically stated in film, but he acts in a stereotypical manner). When Diego tells him about their father, Bunny agrees to take over as Zorro while Diego is recovering, except Bunny uses a whip instead of a sword, and dresses in several different brightly-colored costumes, instead of the traditional black Zorro costume. So Bunny operates as Zorro while Diego tries to deflect Esteban’s suspicions that Diego is Zorro. Diego also fends off the sexual advances of Esteban’s wife Florinda (Brenda Vaccaro), and attempts to star a romance with a noblewoman (played by Lauren Hutton) who has come to town to fight for peasant’s rights. Eventually Diego is able to resume the role of Zorro, and then has a final showdown with Esteban.

This film is silly, not meant to be taken seriously, no one won any Oscars for it, but it’s fun. I enjoyed it. It’s difficult to find on DVD, and can be expensive, but if it comes on cable I’d recommend watching it.

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