Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

May 14, 2020

Stay-At-Home Film #7, ZORRO ALLA CORTE DI SPAGNA (Italy, 1962), starring Giorgio Ardisson

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 10:02 am
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ZORRO ALLA CORTE DI SPAGNA (Zorro In The Court Of Spain)

Italy 1962, directed by Luigi Capuano

starring George/Giorgio/Georges Adrisson, with Alberto Lupo, Livio Lorenzon, Nadia Marlowa, Franco Fantasia, Maria Letizia Gazzoni, Carlo Tamberlani

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About 5 years ago, I acquired a DVD-R of a beautiful widescreen version of this film recorded off Italian cable TV (undoubtedly at 3 a.m.), upgrading my old pan-and-scan VHS tape. I enjoyed re-visiting the film earlier today and thought I’d look it up online before making any comments about it….and once again, I see that I myself reviewed it online about 20 years ago! So let me share those comments from 2003:

FUN, COLORFUL ITALIAN SWASHBUCKLER WITH ARDISSON AS ZORRO

First, this is definitely NOT a western. This Zorro is NOT like the Republic serial. It’s set in the Spain (Lusitania in the English version!) of the mid 1800s and is in the costumed swashbuckler vein. The name of Zorro’s alter ego seems to have been changed in the English dubbing also, as he is called “Senor Martin” throughout, not Riccardo as in the original Italian. That said, the film is a lighthearted, colorful action romp with Ardisson turning on his boyish charm in both roles–the powerful, slick, romantic Zorro, and his prissy, spoiled, wiseass alter ego Martin. I’m reminded of the bored, spoiled way that Robert Lowery played Bruce Wayne in the 1949 Batman and Robin serial. Watching Zorro make buffoons out of the members of the Spanish royal court is very entertaining. Director Luigi Capuano’s films are usually very rich visually, with lots of vibrant color, and this one is no exception. The usual suspects appear in supporting roles here: Livio Lorenzon (NOT with shaved head!), fencing master Franco Fantasia, Alberto Lupo, Gianni Rizzo, Carlo Tamberlani. My copy is titled ZORRO AT THE COURT OF SPAIN, but there are also English language prints with the title THE MASKED CONQUEROR. Overall, a swashbuckling romp where you can tell the actors, especially Ardisson, are having fun themselves–it’s contagious.

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Not much to add to that today, except to say that I’ve now watched probably 16-18 other films Ardisson starred in (out of 64 total), from a long career running from 1959-1992, and whether working in the Peplum, Eurospy, Eurowestern, Giallo, Crime, or whatever genre, he’s always memorable and can play a wide variety of roles. He’s also distinctive-looking. You may be interested to know that he played Zorro again in 1968 (someone must have enjoyed his 1962 portrayal here!) in ZORRO THE FOX, where he’s teamed with the always-satisfying Giacomo Rossi-Stuart in a film that’s VERY different from this one and plays like a typical violent late 60’s Italian western, although some scenes echo the feel of the old Disney Zorro TV series–it’s a curious mixture, though very watchable, and you can watch ZORRO THE FOX below, though it’s not subtitled in English:

 

Getting back to ZORRA IN THE COURT OF SPAIN, it has the kind of “storybook” feel that I’ve discussed elsewhere in regards to the German children’s films imported to the USA by K. Gordon Murray and also peplum films such as VENGEANCE OF URSUS.

It’s quite different from the two 1962 Zorro films made in Spain and starring expatriate American actor FRANK LATIMORE in the role. I have a half-finished blog entry on those two films, which I need to kick myself over the summer to finish. Those Latimore films exist in a universe of their own.

Then there is BEHIND THE MASK OF ZORRO, from around the same time with another American, TONY RUSSEL (aka Tony Russo, aka Tony Russell) in the role, also highly recommended.

Then there is the late 60’s Franco and Ciccio tribute to Zorro with, of all people, DEAN REED in the role, which I also have a half-finished blog entry on and which I highly recommend.

Unlike the 1968 version with Ardisson, this 1962 production is family-friendly. It’s also fast-moving, full of swordplay and (low-budget) pageantry, and features a charismatic lead and colorful supporting cast. Check it out if you can, while stuck at home…and travel to Spain in the wintertime (you can see the steam/smoke coming out of the actors’ mouths when they speak).

European genre-film fans can watch pretty much anything starring Ardisson and enjoy it. Why not enter his name at You Tube and see what you come up with….alas, the film I’m discussing today is not available there.

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