Zorro (1974)

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Released 2-Jan-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Scene Selection Animation
Biographies-Cast
Filmographies-Cast
Trailer-3
Notes-Credits
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 83:58 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Duccio Tessari
Studio
Distributor

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Alain Delon
Ottavia Piccolo
Enzo Cerusico
Giampiero Albertini
Giacono Rossi Stuart
Marino Mase
Case Alpha
RPI $24.95 Music Guido Deangelis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    This confusing mess of a movie is all the more painful to endure after experiencing the likes of Martin Campbell's rousing The Mask Of Zorro. Avenue One's DVD release of Zorro was directed by Duccio Tessari, who helmed many Italian productions including Hercules and Colossus. He was also second unit director on the Hollywood feature The Last Days of Pompeii, and in 1992 he directed the thriller Beyond Justice. Tessari's partner in crime is executive producer Luciano Martino, who went on to produce two rather interesting Italian excursions into the horror genre: the notorious Eaten Alive and Slave of the Cannibal God, which starred Ursula Andress. Both films only exist on Australian video in censored versions. Zorro, on the other hand, demonstrates the Italian film-making philosophy that states: never let trivial matters such as a basic lack of talent stop you from making a motion picture.

    From what I could tell, Diego (the popular French actor Alain Delon) assumes the legendary role of Zorro in order to depose the rule of the vicious Colonel Huerta (Stanley Baker). He does this heroic turn to honour the dying wish of the freshly assassinated Governor Fernando, who wants tranquility restored to the land. With the help of Joaquin (Enzo Cerusico, in an Academy Award-losing performance), a young mute who communicates like a chimpanzee, the unassuming Diego manages to undermine the Colonel's offices by pretending to be the ineffectual, mincing replacement Governor. Further disguised as Zorro, Diego thwarts the Colonel's operations until they meet in the inevitable showdown. Along the way, 'Zorro' wins the heart of the resident village babe Hortensia (the sultry but wooden Ottavia Piccolo), and pits his fighting prowess against the Colonel's bully boys, chief amongst them being Sergeant Garcia (Moustache), the kind of ugly brute who appears to have been spawned from the shallow end of the gene pool. After much swordplay and frivolity, Zorro wins the day and peace reigns once more.

    Apart from a handful of amusing action sequences, the best being Zorro's Jackie Chanesque assault on the Colonel's soldiers in the village shopping district, the movie offers little to videophiles with access to a marketplace saturated by far better choices. What, for instance, is one meant to make of a scene in which a doberman opens a secret passage in a wall for Diego? Or the lame attempt at comic relief as a guard repeatedly attempts to blow a horn? If Avenue One had put more effort and dollars into this DVD, the end result could have been a marvellous addition to the pantheon of fully restored European curiosities emanating from the US. Instead, we are left with an embarrassment that winds the clock back to the bad old days of Force Video's early excuses for DVD product.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    In a word, the transfer quality is abysmal. Taken from a release print, presented full frame, and cropped on all four sides, Zorro exhibits nearly every possible video defect.

    Sharpness is wanting. The best that could be said about the poor level of detail is that it would look better here than on VHS. The fact that the image has been zoomed, possibly to hide frame damage, does not help matters. Shadow detail is virtually absent, with either smudges of black soot in its place, or soupy grey dishwater where there should be darkness.

    Colours have faded from this print, sometimes to the stage where the image is monochromatic. At times there appears to be a greenish tint, while at others the balance is all over the place. Skin tones are generally okay, mainly because the sepia-toned photography just happens to favour warm fleshy colours.

    The source for this transfer is a release print that looks like it was dragged behind a car on the way to the telecine facility. Scratches, grit, jumps, wobble, alignment circles, excessive grain, and print deterioration spoil every frame of this movie. The compression job did not help either, with motion artefacts running riot on almost every panning shot.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Monaural, hissy, with poor fidelity, and minimal dynamic range, the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound quality would have been acceptable for a low budget film of this age, except that the accompanying video transfer just cheapens the whole experience.

    Dialogue is difficult to discern at times due to a combination of a poor original recording job, lousy dubbing, frequently out of sync audio, and distortion.

    Sung by Oliver Onions, the main theme song, which goes "Here's to being free, la, la-la, la, oh Zorro's back...", is repeated about a dozen times to accompany what I called 'Zorro moments': fighting soldiers, scheming, making a triumphant get-away on horseback to the cheers of the oppressed villagers, and so forth. I fear to say that it has grown on me, like a wart. Other appropriately Latin guitar music by Guido Deangelis also punctuates various scenes. Like the sound effects and dialogue, it too is in a pretty sad state.

    The subwoofer and surrounds don't get a look in.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    Full frame and nicely designed, with Oliver Onions' main theme playing for a few bars, and scene selection animation.

Theatrical Trailers (x 3)

    Communion (0:55) is presented letterboxed to roughly 1.85:1, Howling III: The Marsupials (1:36) is full frame, and Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills (2:09) is letterboxed to approximately 1.85:1. Sourced from video tape, all trailers feature awful mono sound and bad video quality.

Alain Delon Biography

    The bright spot in this DVD package is a well-written biography and filmography of Alain Delon by Blake Currall. It's a pity that the sleeve notes were not as precise. It mentions that producer Luciano Martino directed the film and that the running time is 120 minutes, as opposed to the real duration of 84 minutes.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I know, Zorro has not been released on DVD anywhere else in the world.

Summary

    This Italian version of Zorro can only be recommended for spaghetti western enthusiasts, although I'm not quite sure if it even qualifies as a western. The poor writing, direction, and acting definitely pushes it into so-bad-it's-good territory. Try it at your own risk, or with copious amounts of Tequila.

    The video quality is dreadful and the mono audio is barely serviceable. The paucity of extras makes this release from Avenue One completely useless for anything beyond a rental for Zorro and Italian cinema completists. Alas, an opportunity to release a definitive transfer of the film for posterity, as Anchor Bay and Image have done for other Italian titles, has gone begging. The only commendable aspect to this DVD is the menu authoring by BPS Video Services.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Saturday, March 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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