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Zorro Rides Again (1937) 
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:53 am
Posts: 228
Location: Woodstock, IL
Back during the Golden Age of Hollywood, there was an unique form of the cinematic experience that came to an end during the 1950's. This was the movie serial. Serials differed from regular movies in that they were shown at the rate of a chapter every week as opposed to all at once which is what most folks expect from movies. These chapters were generally in the 10-20 minute range with most serials being in the form of 15 minute chapters. There were ususally 12 chapters to a serial with every chapter except for the final one ending in a cliffhanger. The serial chapters were usually shown as part of a matinee bill that included film shorts and cartoons as well as a feature that ususally about an hour long, give or take 5-10 minutes.

One good example of a movie serial is the 1937 Republic Pictures effort, Zorro Rides Again starring John Carroll as the masked man in black. However, this Zorro is not the Zorro that many of you grew up with. This Zorro is a direct descendant of the Zorro who defended the peasantry of Southern California against the evil overlords (the Capitan and Sergeant Garcia) in the 1820's. As such, this was a Zorro who lived in the Great Depression where there was Six-Guns, airplanes, machine guns, railroads, automobiles, radios and other forms of weaponry and gadgetry that the original Zorro could only dream about. Another difference is that James Vega aka Zorro is the main investor in the California-Yucatan Railroad that the evil "financial pirate" Marsden is attempting to take over by hook or by crook. Yet another difference is that the mask worn by this Zorro covers his entire face.

Zorro Rides Again takes you back to the days of fun-filled shoot them ups and buckaroo cowboys. This movie also features the stunt work for which Republic productions were famous for including the incredible work of veteran stunt man Yakima Canutt. This movie was an unusually well written serial with the first 11 eleven chapters all ending in thrilling cliffhangers, many of which were pretty innovative. John Carroll makes a great modern day Zorro. There is also great location photography and a good cast of supporting actors. One of these, Duncan Renaldo, is a great co-star in this movie in a role that is highly similar to the Cisco Kid character that he played on TV in the 1950's. This movie is a rousing actioner on par with many of the best action flicks of today.

The only real drawback to Zorro Rides Again is the fact that Marsden (Noah Beery, Sr.) is not a particularly effective villain. Marsden is basically a mild mannered sort who keeps to his office and only appears in the scenes where he transmits instructions to his chief lieutenant in the field, El Lobo (Richard Alexander). It is unclear why Marsden goes to the lengths that he does to sabotage the California-Yucatan Railroad when it would be much cheaper to buy it fron its investors. Considering the fact that he has some two dozen or so men in the field, it must have been quite a financial burden on Marsden to try to sabotage a railroad being built in the middle of the Depression.

Still, despite this drawback, Zorro Rides Again is a good movie well worth your time.

Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:30 pm
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