Saturday, September 19, 2009


Director - Mario Caiano 1962
Cast: Sean Flynn (Don Ramon Martinez), Daniele de Metz (Manuela), Gaby Andreux (Senora Gutierrez), Walter Barnes (Mario), Mario Petri (Captain Martin), Armando Calvo (Gen. Gutierrez), Virgilio Dalgado Teixeira, Mino D'Oro (Don Luis), Gisella Monaldi, Guido Celano, Alfredo Rizzo, Piero Lulli (blacksmith), and Folco Lulli (Jose).Armand Galou, Vittorio Bonos, Gigi Bonos (wagon driver), Fernando Poggi, Aldo Cecconi, Pietro Ceccarelli, Manrico Melchiorre, Mimo Billi, Ugo Sasso, Tonio Selwart.
Screenplay by Casey Robinson, Guido Malatesta
Director of Photography Adalberto Albertini
2nd Unit Director of Photography Luigi Filippo Carta
Eastmancolor - Totalscope (Dyaliscope in Germany)
Music by Gregorio Garcia Segura
Music Publisher Campi
Film Editor Alberto Gallitti
Art Director Alberto Biccianti
Costumes Virgilio Ciarlo
Set Designer Bruno Cesari
Production Manager Luigi Nannerini
Assistant Director Alfonso Brescia
Sound Enzo Silvestri, Mario Morigi
Studios: Titanus - Farnesina
Exteriors Rome, Bari, Biarritz, Saint Jean De Luz
Produced by Fides (Paris). Compagnia Cinematographique Mondiale (Rome), Benito Perojo (Madrid)
Distri. Titanus
Prod. Reg. 2822
A pretty good tale of a son revenging the hanging of his father on a false charge of treason, was spoiled by someone's insistence that a Zorro connection needed to be made. Our hero was not Zorro, nor do we ever see him leave the "Z" found three times during the film. At one point he improvised a black mask to hide his identity, but he never donned a black cape, nor did he adopt the duo life of dandy-by-day, and masked avenger by night. If one could ignore the slapped-on aspect of this film, it could be enjoyed for some good action and high spirits. Ramon, a proud young Basque, was told by his mother that his real father was a Spaniard and that he now lived in Mexico. Don Martinez had written and asked Ramon to visit him.
With his faithful servant Jose, Ramon traveled to Mexico and quickly got into a cantina brawl with three thugs; Mario, Francesco and Romero. Having bested each of the three, Ramon found himself having to face all three at once with swords. Giving out a cry of "Ai-yei-yei-yei", Ramon and Jose raced off on their horses. Recognizing the cry, the three thugs realized that they have just picked a fight with a fellow Basque.
Having a Basque hero gave this swashbuckler a novelty at odds with the effort to turn it into a Zorro movie. Once again, though, if one could ignore the "Z"s, it worked. (Perhaps I could just dub down a copy of the video and edit out those annoying shots.)
Walter Barnes played Mario, one of the three Basque brawlers who sought out his countryman, and ended up joining the effort to topple the villainous General Gutierrez. While this role wasn't much different from the other brutish parts he'd played before, Barnes was able to infuse this effort with more humor and vitality than usual. His interaction with his two friends especially suggested more acting ability than most of his earlier performances had.
After his rather poor debut in IL FIGLIO DEL CAPITANO BLOOD (U.S.: THE SON OF CAPTAIN BLOOD), it was a pleasant surprise to see Sean Flynn looking lively in this lighthearted effort. From galloping about on horseback, or easily swinging up into a tree, or flying gracefully into a swordfight, Flynn easily bettered his previous performance. Did Mario Caiano, who had a minor job on CAPITANO BLOOD, see how to better use the American than director Tulio Demicheli did, or was it just personal growth by the actor?
Writer Casey Robinson was another holdover from CAPITANO BLOOD, but didn't show similar improvement. The plotting for IL SEGNO DI ZORRO was pretty standard. In order to get his hands on the silver mine, the villain killed our hero's father. And then, to swindle the government, he had his own men, disguised as bandits, steal the silver shipment. Naturally, our hero, in collaboration with an underground rebel group, foiled the plot and then joined the uprising of the populace which stormed the villain's villa.
Caiano directed the usual scenes with enough verve to make the standard stuff enjoyable and the performances agreeable. Assisting in making this film-going experience pleasant were some new and attractive faces, especially Daniele de Metz, and some fondly remembered veteran performers, including Barnes, Mario Petri, Folco Lulli of IL RATTO DELLA SABINE, Piero Lulli, and Gigi Bonos.
(Thank you to Wolfgang Meise and Ally Lamaj for helping me to see this in German, and George Badal for helping me to see this in French.)

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