Zorro, the Gay Blade
Reviewed by Mike Brannon
Rating: 3 Beans
eter Medak is best known for British Crime Dramas, such as "The Krays," and "Let Him Have It." Both of those were excellent, cerebral movies on two polar ends of the crime drama spectrum. But an earlier work of his was "Zorro, The Gay Blade," which descrates the legend of the Old Southwest Robin Hood with a 93-minute gay joke.
Santa Maria! Poor Guy Williams must be spinning in his grave.
George Hamilton plays, of course, Don Diego Vega, descendant of the same-named Mexican Baron who was also a secret guardian of the oppressed. Coming to the California town of his youth, he finds that his boyhood friend Estaban (Ron Lieberman, overacting outrageously) has become the Alcalde, and is bleeding the people dry. I tell you, cinema has been SO fair to aristocracy, hasn't it? :D
Well, like all upper class twits in these movies, Estaban and his ditzy wife, Florinda (Brenda Vaccaro, who also chews more than her share of scenery) throw a mascarade ball, in which Deigo decides to dress as his famous ancestral hero, Zorro. On the way, he witnesses Velasquez (James Booth), a villainous tax collector, humiliating a peasant. So on a pure whim, he attacks and defeats Velasquez, and returns the gold to the peasant. Arriving at the party, he likes the role so much he takes the persona of Zorro and disses Estaban.
I know you are asking a question at this point, and somewhere in your question is the word "motive." I don't know, folks.
While at the party, he meets Charolette Wilson (the gravelly-voiced Lauren "Once Bitten" Hutton), who is a Yankee trying to convince the mexicans to overthrow their opressors and live in a Marxist paradise. Why? Who knows. I'm guessing the screenwriter knows, but he doesn't seem to want to share.
Well, disaster strikes and Deigo breaks his ankle while escaping. With a broken ankle, he can't be Zorro, and worse, Estaban, who is not as dumb as his royal predecessors, immediately suspects Deigo is Zorro.
The movie was fine up to this point, aside from Lieberman's performance: he is actually -trying- to ham it up and overact as much as possible. He shouts, he says stupid things, and he sneers out one of the most demeaning and unbelievable spanish accents ever heard. He's actually balanced out by Vaccaro, who plays her slutty, airheaded and clumsy role to the hilt. But Lauren Hutton's character just doesn't seem to belong in this story; how much goading do people under such rule and taxation really need from a foriegner to revolt?!
Well, then Ramone De Vega, Deigo's brother, shows up and the movie goes downhill fast. He has been in the British Navy for several years. He's ...er... changed. Let's put it this way: he wears rouge, a fluffy jabot, and carries a lace parasol, and laughs an annoying, effeminate laugh (imagine Tom Hulce's Mozart laugh raised about 5 octaves). He also changed his name to "Bunny Wigglesworth."
Deigo convinces Bunny to take the mantle of Zorro. But he does it with the predictable queer touches: he uses a whip, wears lowcut necklines, frills on his somberero, and hip boots. He also wears brilliant colors, which is the setup for one of the few truly funny segments of the movie ("Ah-HAAA, hee first wears PLUM, den he wears BA-NANNA, I theeenk he is trying to tell us somezing...!"). So it goes, with several drag jokes, the woman-throws-herself-at-our-hero-but-he-suddenly-doesn't-seem-interested joke. Basically, as most movies like this in the 80's, how humorously taboo you find homosexuality determines how funny this movie is. When I first saw the movie, being a naive child of 9, most of the jokes went over my head, naturally.
So after the predictable mayhem occurs, Bunny leaves just as Estaban decides to execute Hutton (hooray!) to flush the boytoy bandit out. Deigo resumes as Zorro and tries to save her, only to be captured. Then... surprise, Bunny didn't leave after all and leads the peasants in a big revolt at the last minute.
So refer to Standard Hollywood Action Ending #1-A: good triumphs, Estaban is deposed and jailed, and Diego and Charolette are married. Bunny leaves for England. "Z" End.
This certainly isn't the worst movie made, but it is, of course, a one-joke film that goes on too long. Its very strange that the most fun parts of the movie involve Lieberman and Vaccaro's monumental hamminess. It's obvious they had a ball in their roles. The dual casting of Hamilton as the De Vega brothers isn't nearly as smooth compared to most movies like this... even "Double Impact," for goodness' sake! Dealing with the subject matter, the movie isn't as sick or offensive as it could be, which is a plus. I do think the movie cheapens the Zorro legend, but that's just me. As far as the movie itself goes, it's not terrible but certainly not good.
+Mike draws his rapier and carves an "M" into the webpage+
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