Fairbanks, one of the silent screen’s most popular leading men, was the inspiration of the character George Valentin in “The Artist,” the recent Oscar-winning Best Picture.
Critics have praised “The Mark of Zorro” for its tight story, fast pace, and exciting action sequences, which include many stunts performed by Fairbanks himself. Steven D. Greydanus of the Decent Films Guide wrote that the silent Zorro “...contains some of the most jaw-dropping stunts I’ve ever seen this side of Jackie Chan.” Film writer Leonard Maltin described it as “nonstop fun.”
This genre-defining swashbuckler was the first movie version of the Zorro legend. The story has since been remade and adapted many times, most recently in 1998 as “The Mask of Zorro” starring Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas.
“The Mark of Zorro” was the first film released by the newly formed United Artists studio, formed in 1920 by Fairbanks with fellow silent film superstars Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and director D.W. Griffith. The silent version of “Zorro” also played a key role in the formation of the DC Comics Batman character; in the original 1939 story, a young Bruce Wayne sees “Zorro” on the same night that his parents are later murdered, which leads him to adopt Zorro’s mask and cape as a basis for his own transformation into Batman.
‘The Mark of Zorro’ will be screened on Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at the Rogers Center for the Arts, located on Walsh Way on the campus of Merrimack College. Admission is free. For more information, call the Rogers box office at 978-837-5355.