Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy | 24 July 1981

Full page view
HISTORY

Opening credits include the following statement: “This film is dedicated to Rouben Mamoulian and the other great filmmakers whose past gives us our future.” Mamoulian was the director of The Mark of Zorro (1940, see entry).
       End credits include the following statement: “We wish to acknowledge the splendid cooperation of Professor Carlos Hank Gonzales (Mayor of Mexico City), Professor Eduardo Martinez (Special Advisor to Mayor Gonzalez), the Government and the State of Morelos, and S.T.P.C Workers, Studios and Laboratories of Estudios Churubsco, S.A.”
       The 21 Jan 1981 DV reported the film’s title had been changed from Zorro, The Gay Blade to Zorro! However, the film was released as Zorro, The Gay Blade. Production notes in AMPAS library files also noted other working titles were Zorro and El Zorro.
       The 14 Nov 1979 Var reported that actor Fernando Lamas would play Zorro’s father and that actress Sylvia Kristel was being considered for the female lead. However, Lamas and Kristel did not participate in the project. The 25 Nov 1980 Us reported that actress Valerie Perrine was cast in the film, but a scheduling conflict arose when the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike affected the production of her previous film, The Border (1982, see entry). Brenda Vaccaro was hired to replace Perrine as the character “Florinda.” The 10 Dec 1980 DV noted that principal photography on Zorro, The Gay Blade was also delayed, forcing Vaccaro to drop out of her next scheduled film, Chanel Solitaire ... More Less

Opening credits include the following statement: “This film is dedicated to Rouben Mamoulian and the other great filmmakers whose past gives us our future.” Mamoulian was the director of The Mark of Zorro (1940, see entry).
       End credits include the following statement: “We wish to acknowledge the splendid cooperation of Professor Carlos Hank Gonzales (Mayor of Mexico City), Professor Eduardo Martinez (Special Advisor to Mayor Gonzalez), the Government and the State of Morelos, and S.T.P.C Workers, Studios and Laboratories of Estudios Churubsco, S.A.”
       The 21 Jan 1981 DV reported the film’s title had been changed from Zorro, The Gay Blade to Zorro! However, the film was released as Zorro, The Gay Blade. Production notes in AMPAS library files also noted other working titles were Zorro and El Zorro.
       The 14 Nov 1979 Var reported that actor Fernando Lamas would play Zorro’s father and that actress Sylvia Kristel was being considered for the female lead. However, Lamas and Kristel did not participate in the project. The 25 Nov 1980 Us reported that actress Valerie Perrine was cast in the film, but a scheduling conflict arose when the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike affected the production of her previous film, The Border (1982, see entry). Brenda Vaccaro was hired to replace Perrine as the character “Florinda.” The 10 Dec 1980 DV noted that principal photography on Zorro, The Gay Blade was also delayed, forcing Vaccaro to drop out of her next scheduled film, Chanel Solitaire (1981, see entry).
       According to the 21 Oct 1980 HR and the 19 Dec 1980 Var, actor John Carradine was cast in the film, but his name does not appear in credits. The 5 Nov 1980 Var stated Martin LaSalle had joined the cast, the 7 Nov 1980 DV noted that Vernon Dobtcheff was cast as a doctor, the 3 Dec 1980 HR reported Alfredo Vergara was signed to costar, and the 9 Jan 1981 DV stated character actor Fernando Palaviccini was also cast, but LaSalle, Dobtcheff, Vergara, and Palaviccini are not listed in credits. On 6 Jan 1981, DV and HR announced that Mexican film actor Pedro Armendariz, a friend of star George Hamilton, would have a cameo in the film. However, Armendariz’s name does not appear in end credits and his participation cannot be verified.
       The 11 Jul 1979 Var announced that George Hamilton was on a world promotional tour for his successful film, Love At First Bite (1979, see entry), produced by Melvin Simon Productions, and stated that his next project would be Zorro, The Gay Blade, also to be produced by Melvin Simons Productions on a $5 million budget. The 14 Nov 1979 Var reported the film’s title as Zorro and noted that Hamilton planned to write the screenplay. However, Hamilton does not receive writing credit on the film. Principal photography was anticipated to begin May 1980 in Mexico. The 29 Apr 1980 HR announced that Melvin Simon Productions’ slate of films, including Zorro, The Gay Blade, would be distributed domestically by Twentieth Century-Fox. Zorro, The Gay Blade was budgeted at $8-10 million, and principal photography was expected to begin summer 1980 for release in summer 1981. According to the 6 Aug 1980 DV, Twentieth Century-Fox announced that, due to the SAG strike, it would not participate in the financing of Zorro, The Gay Blade which had signed an interim agreement with SAG. The Guild would not sign with projects that were chiefly financed by struck studios or networks, and the interim agreement required the project to “be financed entirely or substantially by the independent producer.”
       The 19 Dec 1980 Var reported principal photography began 14 Oct 1980 in Mexico. The 14 Dec 1980 Var noted locations included Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The 19 Jan 1981 Var stated principal photography finished 18 Jan 1981 in Los Angeles, CA. According to the 29 Oct 1980 DV, filming went so well that there was discussion of producing “a sequel and/or a series” based on the film. However, as of Oct 2014 no sequel has been produced.
       On 24 Jul 1981, the NYT review announced the film’s New York City premiere. In the Dec 1981 Rolling Stone, Zorro, The Gay Blade was cited in the article “Big Bucks, Big Losers – Twenty-four Films that Bombed in 1981.” The article listed the film’s production budget at $12.6 million and its domestic rentals at $1.5 million.
       The 29 Oct 1980 DV reported the movie marked the feature film debut of actress Carolyn Seymour, and the 19 Dec 1980 HR noted it was actor Owen Lee’s feature film debut.
       An item in the 2 Sep 1981 DV reported that writer Marvin Braverman filed a $5 million plagiarism suit in Los Angeles, CA, Superior Court against the makers of Zorro, The Gay Blade, including Melvin Simon, his production company, Twentieth Century-Fox, Hamilton, director Peter Medak, and others associated with the film. Braverman claimed his original screenplay Good-bye Zorro was submitted to Melvin Simons Productions in late 1978, and a meeting with Hamilton occurred in Aug 1978. The outcome of the suit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1980.
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1980.
---
Daily Variety
10 Dec 1980.
---
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1981.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1981.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1981.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1981
p. 3.
New York Times
24 Jul 1981
p. 16.
Rolling Stone
Dec 1981.
---
Us
25 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
11 Jul 1979.
---
Variety
14 Nov 1979.
---
Variety
5 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
14 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
19 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
19 Jan 1981.
---
Variety
22 Jul 1981
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Melvin Simon Productions Presents
A Peter Medak Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Prod mgr, Mexican staff
Asst dir, Mexican staff
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr story
Scr story
Scr story
Scr story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Key grip
Cam op
Asst cam
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Women's costumer
Women's costumer
Asst to cost des
MUSIC
Mus cond and adpt
Mus ed
Orch
Orch mgr
Mus mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Dial supv
Dial ed
Prod sd mixer
Sd boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main and end titles
Title execution
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Whip tutor
Exec in charge of prod
Simon prod exec
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Asst to George Hamilton
Asst to Peter Medak
Prod asst
Casting
Casting
Unit pub
Loc auditor
Boss wrangler
Wrangler
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Driver
Driver
Prod secy, Mexican staff
Travel coord, Mexican staff
Prod asst, Mexican staff
STAND INS
Photo stunt double
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon a character created by Johnston M. McCulley.
MUSIC
Music adapted from: "The Adventures of Don Juan," by Max Steiner
"Danzes Fantastica," by Joaquin Turina.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
El Zorro
Zorro
Zorro!
Release Date:
24 July 1981
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 24 Jul 1981; Los Angeles opening: 31 Jul 1981
Production Date:
14 Oct 1980 -- 18 Jan 1981 in Mexico and Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
Simon Film Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 August 1981
Copyright Number:
PA112525
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the late eighteenth century, a masked swordsman called Zorro protects Californian peasants from tyrannical landowners. Fifty years later, in Madrid, Spain, Don Diego Vega is in bed with his mistress when her husband and his brothers challenge Diego to a swordfight. As Diego fights, his mute servant Paco enters with a letter from Diego’s father asking his son to return home to Los Angeles, California. Diego knocks his opponents aside and leaps into a waiting carriage. Diego arrives home after a twenty year absence and discovers his childhood friend, Esteban, is acting alcalde, and married to Florinda, whom both men pursued as boys. Diego wonders why his father is no longer alcalde, and learns he was killed in an accident. The local landowners elect Esteban as permanent alcalde and during his inaugural speech, Esteban announces higher taxes on the overburdened citizens. Charlotte Taylor Wilson, a Bostonian activist, arrives to incite the citizens to rebel. Charlotte drops some flyers and as Diego retrieves them, he introduces himself as one of the greedy landowners, and notes that she is also rich. Charlotte denies it, but then admits she has a small inheritance and is utilizing it to do something important. She makes fun of Diego’s accent and insists she does not want to be a preening peacock like him. Later, Diego receives an invitation to attend Esteban’s masked ball, and also receives a large box that was to be delivered to Diego upon his father’s death. Inside, Diego finds Zorro’s sword, mask, cape and hat, and a note stating it is the destiny of Vega men to become ... +


In the late eighteenth century, a masked swordsman called Zorro protects Californian peasants from tyrannical landowners. Fifty years later, in Madrid, Spain, Don Diego Vega is in bed with his mistress when her husband and his brothers challenge Diego to a swordfight. As Diego fights, his mute servant Paco enters with a letter from Diego’s father asking his son to return home to Los Angeles, California. Diego knocks his opponents aside and leaps into a waiting carriage. Diego arrives home after a twenty year absence and discovers his childhood friend, Esteban, is acting alcalde, and married to Florinda, whom both men pursued as boys. Diego wonders why his father is no longer alcalde, and learns he was killed in an accident. The local landowners elect Esteban as permanent alcalde and during his inaugural speech, Esteban announces higher taxes on the overburdened citizens. Charlotte Taylor Wilson, a Bostonian activist, arrives to incite the citizens to rebel. Charlotte drops some flyers and as Diego retrieves them, he introduces himself as one of the greedy landowners, and notes that she is also rich. Charlotte denies it, but then admits she has a small inheritance and is utilizing it to do something important. She makes fun of Diego’s accent and insists she does not want to be a preening peacock like him. Later, Diego receives an invitation to attend Esteban’s masked ball, and also receives a large box that was to be delivered to Diego upon his father’s death. Inside, Diego finds Zorro’s sword, mask, cape and hat, and a note stating it is the destiny of Vega men to become Zorro in times of need, although his father was not certain which of his two sons would assume the role. Diego decides to wear the costume to the ball. En route to the party, he encounters a peasant who has been robbed. Diego catches the bandit and prevails in their swordfight. The bandit asks for mercy, which Zorro grants as long as the man spreads word that Zorro has arrived to protect the oppressed. As Zorro returns the grateful peasant’s money, he learns the bandit was actually Esteban’s tax collector. At the ball, Charlotte protests outside. Two soldiers accost her, but Diego invites her inside. She introduces herself and asks his name, but he refuses to answer. Florinda does not recognize Diego beneath his costume and flirts with the handsome stranger. Meanwhile, the tax collector informs Esteban about Zorro’s escapades. Esteban sees Zorro with Florinda and challenges him to a swordfight. As the two men fight throughout the ballroom, the peasants chant Zorro’s name. When Zorro knocks Esteban’s sword aside, the alcalde calls for his soldiers, but Zorro eludes them and swings to the second floor. However, he falls off the balcony, injures his foot and limps away. Later, Florinda sneaks into Diego’s bedroom and wonders why he did not come to her party. He claims he thought it was the next day. She wants to make love, but is forced to hide when her husband unexpectedly arrives. Esteban announces Zorro was at the ball and demands to know why Diego missed it. Diego insists he was ill, but Esteban is suspicious. Claiming Zorro looks similar to Diego, Esteban forces Diego to move around and prove his foot is not hurt. Diego hides his pain, and Esteban apologizes to his friend, then decides a reign of terror will prove no one can oppose him. Diego’s injury makes it impossible for him to stop Esteban’s cruelty, and he worries that his father would be disappointed. Three weeks later, his twin brother, Ramon, arrives, having also received a letter from their father. Twenty years ago, their father sent Ramon to the British Navy to make him more masculine, but his son grew into an effeminate Brit and changed his name to Bunny Wigglesworth. When Bunny learns of their father’s death and the Zorro legacy, Diego suggests that his brother play the part. Bunny agrees, but wants the world to recognize him as Zorro, the Gay Blade. He attempts a Spanish accent, but refuses to wear the black costume and prefers whips to swords. Later, the tax collector informs Esteban that he was robbed by Zorro, who wore a plum red outfit, used a whip and had a strange accent. Several landowners arrive with tales of being robbed by Zorro, and describe his colorful array of outfits. Esteban promises to capture Zorro, but the masked man eludes him. Bunny, acting as Zorro, brings a donation to Charlotte at the mission. She promises to do anything to help, and admits that she loves Zorro. Later, Diego is jealous to learn that Charlotte offered her love to his brother. Bunny hides when Esteban unexpectedly arrives with a sketch of Zorro, whom he calls a “swishbuckler.” Suspicious of the drawing’s resemblance to Diego, Esteban forces Diego to act like a “sissy,” then apologizes for suspecting his friend. Esteban spots a man outside wearing an orange cape and chases him. When they catch up with Bunny, now hidden beneath robes, Diego insists it is Brother Ramon, a priest. Esteban asks the padre to pray for him, and as Esteban’s eyes are closed, Bunny leaves on the alcalde’s horse. Furious, Esteban promises revenge. Florinda wants another masked ball to show off her extravagant new necklace and Esteban agrees, theorizing Zorro will not miss the opportunity to steal it. When Diego arrives at the ball dressed as Zorro, Esteban thinks he has caught his nemesis. However, Diego insists he received a letter from Esteban asking him to dress as Zorro. The other landowners arrive, also dressed as Zorro and claiming it was Esteban’s order. Bunny arrives in a dress and Diego introduces him as his cousin Margarita Wigglesworth. Esteban is enchanted and asks “Wiggy” to dance. Later, Margarita spills a drink on Florinda’s chest while admiring her necklace, then follows her into the powder room and steals the necklace while pretending to help the furious woman. Florinda frees herself from Margarita’s grasp and returns to the ballroom, where Esteban immediately notices the necklace is missing. Diego feigns surprise at his “cousin’s” deception. Later, Diego meets Bunny, who is in his naval uniform and setting sail again in two days. Diego’s foot has healed, so he can resume the role of Zorro, and Bunny insists his brother romance Charlotte. Diego dresses as Zorro and gives the necklace to Charlotte, then kisses her. She knows it is Diego behind the mask, although she admits she once thought there were two Zorros. As they declare their mutual love, soldiers approach. They part, not realizing they were seen by a peasant, who informs Esteban that Zorro gave the necklace to Charlotte. Esteban arrests Charlotte to lure Zorro to her execution. As she is tied to a stake, Esteban asks for a padre’s prayers and discovers it is Zorro, who offers to exchange his life for Charlotte’s. Zorro asks that his identity not be revealed in public, out of respect for his family, and Esteban agrees. As the soldiers tie Zorro to the post and prepare to shoot him, Zorro, the Gay Blade, in gold attire, appears on a turret. The crowd cheers as he swings down and frees the other Zorro. As the Zorros battle the soldiers, the peasants join in the fight. Soon, everyone unites and turns on Esteban. Afterward, Bunny rides toward his ship, and Diego and Charlotte decide to marry. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.