1937 “ZORRO RIDES AGAIN”

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1937 “ZORRO RIDES AGAIN”

1937 “Zorro Rides Again” is a 12-chapter Republic Pictures film serial. It was the eighth of the sixty-six Republic serials, the third with a western theme (a third of Republic’s serials were westerns) and the last produced in 1937. The serial was directed by William Witney & John English in their first collaboration, written by Franklin Adreon, and starring John Carroll (who also sang the title song as a modern descendant of the original Zorro with Carroll stunt doubled by Yakima Canutt), Noah Berry Sr., Richard Alexander, Reed Howes, Helen Christian, Nigel De Brulier, . The plot is a fairly standard western storyline about a villain attempting to illicitly take valuable land (in this case a new railroad). The setting is a hybrid of modern (1930s) and western elements that was used occasionally in B-Westerns (such as the western feature films also produced by Republic).

As reviewed by Wikipedia, in contemporary (for the 1937 production) California, villain J. A. Marsden (Berry) aims to take over the California-Yucatan Railroad with the aid of his henchman El Lobo (Alexander}. The rightful owners, Joyce and Phillip Andrews (Christian and Howes), naturally object. Their partner, Don Manuel Vega (De Brulier) summons his nephew, James Vega (Carroll), to help them as he is the great grandson of the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega. He is disappointed, however, to find that his nephew is a useless fop (presumably Don Manuel had not paid too much attention to his family history). Nevertheless, James Vega installs himself in the original Zorro’s hideout and adopts the Zorro identity to defeat Marsden and El Lobo. This Zorro uses twin pistols and (like the original Zorro) a whip as his main weapons of choice, rather than a more traditional sword.

“Zorro Rides Again” was influenced by the Singing Cowboy trend of the time. Carroll’s “best moments” in costume were singing (Lyrics include “Zorro rides again into the night…”). In the opinion of Cline, one of the most memorable stunt scenes in the history of film serials is shown in Zorro Rides Again. Stuntman Yakima Canutt plays Zorro as he gallops up to the cab of a moving truck and swings from the saddle to its running board. Even a small mistake during this sequence would have been lethal for Canutt. A 68-minute feature film version, created by editing the serial footage together, was released on 22 September 1938 and re-released on 16 January 1959. The feature film had a working title of “Mysterious Don Miguel” before returning to the original name “Zorro Rides Again”. This was one of fourteen feature films Republic made from their serials. In the early 1950s, Zorro Rides Again was one of fourteen Republic serials edited into a television series. It was broadcast in six 26½-minute episodes.

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