Hard to believe “The Mask of Zorro” just turned twenty years old. It doesn’t seem like that much time has gone by.
The film starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones and directed by Martin Campbell was a big deal for me. I had been a Zorro fan most of my life, but this would the my first chance to see Zorro on the big screen.
I still remember going to see the movie the first Sunday it was out. My friend John and I wanted to see the first show of the day at the National Amusements theater in Randolph Ma, but it was sold out. We managed to get tickets to the 2:00 show, but even that was packed and we ended up sitting in the last row. We sat so far up, that we had to use a different door to get into the theater.
Luckily the sitting arrangement did not take away my enjoyment of “The Mask of Zorro.” This movie was everything I wanted to see and so much more. The film not only reintroduced the character to new generations, but it expanded on what had been done before. “The Mask of Zorro” had a lot of energy, fun, swordplay, and humor. I never felt like the movie talked down to long time fans, or tried to preach at you. The movie simply showed you how good can battle evil, with honor.
My favorite scenes in the movie were the ones between Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who had great chemistry and, an ideal to the right thing. Whether its the dance at Don Rafael’s hacienda, at which the daughter and the dashing visitor take over the dance floor in a passionate paso doble. Or a scene that starts as a duel to the death between man and woman, and ends in a surprised embrace. All of their scenes together were gold.
As John and I left the theater, I couldn’t stop raving about the movie. Then as we rode the escalator up, we saw going down were the rest of our friends. They were on their way to see “Armageddon,” which John and I had already seen. But they said we should come along anyways, so we did. Afterwards I told them about “Mask of Zorro,” and Nick suggested we go see it. I couldn’t say no, so off we went to see the movie once more.
When I was around five or six years old, I got sick at school, and had to stay home the next day. I spent most of the day sleeping, but woke up every few hours to take my medicine. It was during one of the medicine breaks when I turned the tv on and discovered Disney’s 1950’s “Zorro” series starring Guy Williams.
I changed the channel just in time to see Zorro jumping from a rooftop. I didn’t know who the masked man wearing black was, but I definitely wanted to know more. It only took one scene to make me a fan. And as I recovered over the next couple of days, I made sure to catch more episodes of Zorro.
That was a long time ago, but my love of Zorro has remained intact. Since that day in the early 1980’s, I’ve watched every Zorro tv show and movie I could find. I’ve read the original story by Johnston McCulley countless times. Aside from the Guy Williams show, I’m particularly fond of the 1940 film “Mark of Zorro” starring Tyrone Power. But my next favorite Zorro adaptation is none other than the “Mask of Zorro.” And the memories o seeing the movie probably have a lot to do with that.