Blu-ray Review: Zorro (1975)

STUDIO: Somerville House/Entertainment One | DIRECTOR: Duccio Tessari | CAST: Alain Delon, Ottavia Piccolo, Enzo Cerusico, Stanley Baker, Moustache, Marino Masé, Giampiero Albertini
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 11/20/2012 | PRICE: DVD $19.98, Blu-ray $24.98
BONUSES: trailers, restoration comparisons, radio spots
SPECS: PG | 121 min. | Action adventure | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital mono

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall


The 1975 action-adventure film Zorro is a curious flick: an Italian-French co-production directed by a filmmaker known for his spaghetti westerns (Duccio Tessari), starring a French superstar (Alain Delon, Purple Noon), and set in South America, as opposed to the usual Californian or Mexican locales which are usually associated with the famed (and fictional) swashbuckling, black-clad, masked freedom fighter known as Zorro.

Zorro movie scenee

Alain Delon swashbuckles across the screen in Zorro.

Zorro more or less follows the original “Zorro” tale as created by the pulp writer Johnston McCulley in 1919, with Delon portraying a nobleman who masquerades as the new governor of a territory in “Spanish California” in the late 1800s . Disturbed by the tyrannical rule of the local military’s cruel Colonel Huerta (Stanley Baker) and his soldiers, Diego secretly takes on the second persona of the legendary hero Zorro to fight against Huerta for the freedom and liberty of the oppressed people of the land.

As directed by Duccio Tessari (who’s best known for his uncredited writing work on Sergio Leone’s (Once Upon a Time in the West) classic A Fistful of Dollars and his own lively spaghetti western A Pistol for Ringo), Zorro is sprinkled with numerous flourishes reminiscent of the Italian westerns of the era, from its enigmatic heroes and nefarious villains to its dusty landscapes and sweaty close-ups. But with the violence kept in check during its action set pieces and a surprisingly light, almost goofy tone, the PG-rated film remains a family-friendly affair. Delon proves to be a lively and fun Zorro,  equally adept in both the numerous action sequences and, as the bumbling Diego, the film’s frequent comedic moments. All of Delon’s talents are put to the test during a climactic Youtube-worthy dueling sequence that runs for more than 10 minutes.

Considering the age and source of the film (it is, after all, a moderately budgeted European production from the Seventies!) Somerville House’s Blu-ray edition of Zorro is quite striking. The colors are rich and the details surprisingly crisp, even if the overall image is a bit soft. The English-dubbed track is also solid, though I wish I had the option to check out the original Italian audio track and accompanying subtitles, which are not included.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.