Episode II: The Fox has Two Faces

Guy Hamilton as ZorroOut of the night
When the full moon is bright,
Comes a horseman known as Zorro.

This bold renegade
Carves a 'Z' with his blade
A 'Z' that stands for Zorro

Zorro --
The Fox so cunning and free
Zorro --
Who makes the sign of the 'Z'

Tyrone Power as Zorro Zorro, like his literary predecessor the Scarlet Pimpernel, and his contemporary inheritor the costumed superhero, is a hero with a secret identity. To protect his true identity, the hero must engage the enemies of justice in disguise...

"Two Bits,
Four Bits,
Six Bits,
A Peso --

All those for Zorro,
Stand up and Say So!

Ramon de la Vega
Zorro, the Gay Blade

The other dichotomy in the Zorro stories has always been between the comic and the deadly serious. El Zorro has always made fools of his enemies while defeating them and rescuing the innocent and downtrodden from their machinations, and as Don  Diego, has made great show of just how big an idiot a rich, spoiled young man can be. It began with Douglas Fairbanks mugging for the camera, and continued with Tyrone Powers and Antonio Banderas disguised as a priest hearing the romantic confessions of the lovely young heroine.

In Zorro, the Gay Blade, George Hamilton paints the Fox with an even broader comedic brush. He plays Diego, philandering son of the original Zorro, who is recalled to California to find his father dead (his horse was frightened by a tortoise) and that his schoolyard rival Esteban has usurped his father's position as alcalde.
This Diego really is a spoiled, rich, young fop, who decides that the Zorro costume his father willed to him would be perfect to wear to a party and inadvertently rescues a peon family from a cruel tax collector enroute. Chaos ensues -- "Zorro is Back!" -- but Diego, escaping,  sprains his ankle leaping from the balcony.

Salvation arrives in the guise of Diego's twin brother Ramon (also played by George Hamilton), back from a stint with the British Navy that hasn't made him any more masculine but has certainly expanded his horizons. Diego persuades his brother (now calling himself Bunny Wigglesworth) to put on the cape and mask to protect "the peoples" until his leg heals. Bunny agrees -- but decides that black just isn't his color. 

Bunny's version of Zorro then appears in a different version of the Zorro costume in every scene -- bright yellow ("What did he look like?"" A giant banana, alcalde"), green, orange, blue, scarlet, and at last, in the finale, resplendent in gold lame and gilded pompons.

Bunny carves his Z's with a bullwhip rather than a sword, his priestly disguise is as a member of the brotherhood  of "Peter the Dressmaker", and he sneaks into the alcalde's villa disguised as Diego's cousin Marguerite.

Subtle it isn't. But with an able supporting cast including Lauren Hutton, Brenda Vaccaro and Ron Leibman, Hamilton's Gay Caballero is just as much the clown as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s original El Zorro was.

Antonio Banderas as Zorro

His modern-day counterparts, however, might find his crime-fighting regalia somewhat staid, as depicted on both the large and small screens: black riding boots, black gloves, black breeches, black bloused shirt, a black sash or girdle, a caballero's black flat-crowned hat, and black cape. Instead of a fanciful cowl, a simple black mask or scarf with eyeholes. The only relief in this dark panoply? The gleam of his sword, the glint in his eye and a dazzling smile -- save perhaps a touch of silver chasing round his hat or across his belt. In the stark simplicity of his costume, Zorro hero of the people, presents a dashing contrast to the sartorial sumptuousness and decadence of the aristocratic and military elite he opposes.

(Well, with one notable exception -- see the sidebar...)

Antonio Banderas' Diego Tangoes In his other identity as Don Diego Vega, however, he plays an effete member of that elite -- and he plays that part to the hilt. In the recent Sony film The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas plays Alejandro, a highwayman who is rescued and trained by an aging Don Diego to be a new Zorro -- and who must put on the airs and manners of  the foppish newcomer from Spain to invade the Governor's mansion. In tailed coat, brocade waistcoat, and overbearing manner, Alejandro fools them all, as have all the Don Diegos who've preceded him on the screen.

Guy Hamilton resplendent as Don DiegoThe villas and haciendas of the mythical Spanish California depicted in the Zorro films and serials offered uncounted opportunities to the wardrobe designers to bedeck Diego, the other aristos, and the military in rich textures and patterns. Borrowing from ornamentation still seen in Mexican folk design, fitted breeches, broad shouldered, tapered and high-waisted jackets or tailcoats chased with embroidery, applique, and beaded  ornamentation are a peacock's delight.

Even Diego's fortune-hunting uncle, ostensibly an older, respectable gentleman of limited means (played by Cesar Romero in the Walt Disney television series), sports ruffled cuffs and jacket lapels liberally covered with crisscrossed loops of soutache braid. 

The Capitan and his brother meet

The villains, of course, come in two main varieties -- the aristocrats and the military (plus the military aristocrats, of course). Here again, the male of the species can sport brilliant plumage. Besides the continental-style military finery seen in the Governor's troops, the gentleman looking for wardrobe inspiration might consider the US Cavalry, as in Captain Love from The Mask of Zorro. A case can even be made for the British military...

The Zorro Banquet at The Masque of Zorro is a chance for men to be dashing and suave... and to be as gaudy as the ladies, if you dare!
...Come as Zorro, champion of the people. Come as the evil Alcalde, or the scheming Capitan, the good-hearted but bumbling Sargeant Garcia -- or the deadly Captain Love. But don't be shy!

To discourage any proper air of sumptuousness, refinement, and restraint at the Banquet, we have prepared some zesty party games for gentlemen and ladies alike, which will take place in the Hacienda Garden Saturday evening.
You may display your skill at carving Z's with your zword, at extinguishing candles with a bullwhip, or, for the less animatedly athletic among you, we'll set the Rosebud relay to a tango and let you pass a rose to your partner with your teeth. We may have some other surprises for you, as well. Be warned, though -- the organizers are judging, and style counts more than speed!

The Masque of Zorro Website:  

The Masque of Zorro will be held at the Hacienda Lodge on Hunter-Ligget Military Reservation near Jolon, California, the weekend of April 28-30, 2000.  Guests staying at the hotel, which is run for the Army by Roger MacLendon, will have access to a variety of amenities

In addition, we will be having our own assortment of entertainments:

Friday night, in honor of the creation of Zorro, and in reflection of the history of the Hacienda, we invite you to join us in the Hacienda Lounge for a no-host Hollywood cocktail party.

Saturday during the day, Hacienda guests may, of course, avail themselves of the hotel's amenities. In addition, we have collected 4 (widely assorted) different film versions of Zorro, which we invite you to enjoy in our own private screening.

Saturday night we will have our grand Zorro Banquet. Californio or Zorro-inspired attire is the mode of the evening -- and remember there are many different versions of The Fox from which to draw inspiration. Hotel manager Roger McClendon is an accomplished chef, and has promised us a memorable meal. In the garden we will be playing an assortment of amusing party games inspired by Zorro and our location; there will be opportunities for guests both athletic and indolent to join in the mischief. Do not be surprised if the strains of a mariachi band provide an aural backdrop to the evening...

Sunday, Roger has promised us a scrumptious box lunch for our walk to nearby Mission San Antonio de Padua for our picnic meal. Again, historic Californio or Zorro-inspired attire is the mode. While we visit, please remember that the mission is still home to an active parish and be respectful guests.

The meals-only package for this event (the Zorro Banquet plus the picnic lunch) will cost $65. Those staying at the Hacienda will pay that plus the standard rate for their room. While all rooms at the lodge are currently sold, the reservation does have a primitive campground which is available, and there are motels in King City, about 25 miles away. For guests staying at the Hacienda, continental breakfast is also part of the meal package. The hotel management has agreed that our guests who choose to camp at the HLMR campground may use the toilet and shower facilities at the Hacienda.

Kevin Roche

The name Zorro is a registered trademark of Zorro Productions, Inc. Used with permission