“At night a candle’s brighter than the sun.”
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Candle Slashing 102
My detective work to discover origins of Candle Slashing in Zorro
and other depictions of the stunt will likely fail.
There are simply far too many movies that may have reprised the stunt between 1920 and today.
I can’t look through them all.
But it’s fun – and interesting to me.
Maybe The Mark of Zorro (1940)? was indeed the first instance of the stunt?
I can’t say.
I didn’t detect any Candle Slashing in Douglas Fairbanks Sr’s,The Mark of Zorro (1920).
Though he does momentarily grab a candlestick in the fight scene with Noah Beery Sr. (below)
But no candle slashing occurs. Over the years most of the re-enactments of the stunt have become spoofs.
But I still recognize them as paying tribute and homage to Zorro and his origins.
Below: 15 years after The Mark of Zorro (1940), Basil Rathbone reprises the famous stunt
in the wonderful The Court Jester (1955) Starring the amazing Danny Kaye!
(You can watch the whole fight on YouTube)
Later (1974) I found this instance of Candle Slashing in the TV movie The Mark Of Zorro, Starring Frank Langella fighting villain Ricardo Montalban,
(Pardon my Spanish)
In(1975)Alain Delon Starred in Zorro and slashed several candles against Villain Stanley Baker.
Nicely done – anyway you slice it.
… there’s more than one way to snuff a Candle!
If a sword is not at hand, simply grab your bullwhip.
Candle Lashing 101
Candle Lashing appears to have started with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in Don Q Son of Zorro (1925)
I found this scene:
So says Don Q (Fairbanks):
*CRACK* he whips the candle flame out!
Fairbanks seemed to be talented in many ways.
Handling a bullwhip would have been one.
Fairbanks didn’t invent Zorro, but he sure put him in gear.
Duncan Regehr of Zorro TV Series (1990) tries his hand at Candle Whipping:
Candle Lashing/Whipping carried over to modern The Mask of Zorro (1998).
Anthony Hopkins handles the chores.
“Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection;
nothing is lost that is born of the heart.”
– Basil Rathbone
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
We finally come to the wonderful climatic sword fight scene between Zorro(Tyrone Power)
and Capt. Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone).
After 78 years this is still regarded among the great sword fight/Swashbuckling scenes in filmdom.
Rathbone is often said to be the greatest of all the swashbuckling fencers/swordsmen Actors in Film.
He displayed his skills in several movies: Captain Blood(1935); Romeo and Juliet(1936; The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938); and The Court Jester (1955)
And as is evident in the video below, he how proud he was of his prowess.
Rathbone studied stage fencing as part of his training at the famous Old Vic Theatre. The study of Fencing and Swordsmanship is part of a Shakespearean Actors training.
He was also tutored under Swordmaster and famed Fight Choreographer Fred Cavens.
Rathbone did his most of his own stunts and required no stand-in or double for his swordwork.
What is NOT well known, however, is that Tyrone Power was also very good.
Said Rathbone of Power’s swordsmanship skills: “Power was the most agile man with a sword I’ve ever faced before a camera. Tyrone could have fenced Errol Flynn into a cocked hat.”
Fred Caven’s son Albert Cavens did double-in for Power some shots. He was likely better for sure,
but I figure Tyrone coulda handled it himself.
It’s interesting that that Errol Flynn is so highly regarded as a fencer/sword fighter in Swashbuckling films because Rathbone
who dueled with in Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood says otherwise:
“I enjoyed swordsmanship more than anything because it was beautiful. I thought it was a wonderful exercise, a great sport. But I would not put it under the category of sport; I would put it under the category of the arts. I think it’s tremendously skillful and very beautiful… The only actor I actually fought with on the screen was Flynn, and that’s the only time I was really scared. I wasn’t scared because he was careless,
but because he didn’t know how to protect himself.” “I could have killed Errol Flynn any time I wanted to.”
Tyrone Power Westerns continued …
The Mark of Zorro (1940) The Fight / Part 2 …
On most any Saturday, in 1954, myself and my 3 older brothers, would each be given a Quarter (25 cents!) and off we’d go to the Saturday Matinee at the local Movie Theatre (in Mission, British Columbia). A Quarter would get us in plus buy a bag of popcorn and a pop! Amazing!
In those days kids could walk around freely, with no fear. We never locked our doors. Never had to. Churches were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
That was a different time. Not so long ago.
I was 6 years old
Then we’d breathlessly watch our Heroes of the day!
14 years earlier, in 1940 – Tyrone Power had Starred in The Mark of Zorro.
I don’t recall seeing this movie until TCM showed it recently.
I loved it.
Obviously there is a Colorized version of The Mark of Zorro (1940).
Haven’t seen that one yet.
Ratings were pretty high – for both Critics and the Public.
Since it seems The Mark of Zorro (1940) didn’t have any Trailers/Previews (??)
I searched the net like Sherlock – scouring fansites and archives. Finding none.
It looks like they exclusively used Posters instead? *shrug*
And I found over 30 different posters for the Movie!
Yet some were in such bad shape that they escaped any expertise I might possess to recover them.
I spent 3 days trying to restore all these old posters to their original pristine wonderfulness.
Color was the main issue. Over the years the Posters fade and the former vibrancy of the colors is lost.
Would you make a Zorro poster in dirty, washed-out, dull Reds, for instance?
Nor I! The former Zing and Zest of Zorro had been lost in time …
and befell to me for restore the lost Lustre and Vitality of The Fox!
En Garde !!!
Tyrone Power Westerns continued … The Mark of Zorro (1940) Part 3
Theme from the Mark of Zorro (1940) by Alfred Newman
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Ride With Zorro . . . The Dashing Don Of California’s Most Adventurous Era !
The Jagged Mark of His Sword Struck Terror to Every Heart – But One!
Tyrone Power made 6 Westerns:
And 5 Swashbucklers:
Zorroisunique – categorized as both a WesternHero and a Swashbuckler.
I can think of no other Herowith this distinction.
During the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s Swashbucklerssparred with Westernsfor popularity.
In Zorrothey found a perfect partnership.
I was unable to locate any Trailer/Preview for The Mark of Zorro (1940).
There must be one somewhere? Maybe not.
I substituted this vignette with the Chordettessinging
the Theme for Disney’sTV version of Zorro.
But I’ll keep looking.
Tyrone Power Westerns continued … The Mark of Zorro (1940) Part 2
the night they drove old Dixie down / Joan Baez / written by RobbieRobertson
“Those who love are never parted.”
Jesse James (1939)
If there’s a theme that runs through the Jesse James saga,
it’s Family and Brotherhood. Blood.
The James – Younger Gang:
Brothers that rode together:
– Jesse and Frank James
– Cole, Jim, John, and Bob Younger
– Charley Ford and Robert Ford
– Ed Miller and and Clell Miller
Blood Deep / Blood Strong
Back then people stuck together: ‘Right or Wrong’? ‘Law and Order’? Be damned. Family is Right. Family is Law. Clan. Kin deep. No bullet could penetrate that. (Unless it came from within)
No wonder Jesse James seemed so invincible and impossible to catch.And had such a Robin Hood image (that is still intact today)
And why Robert Ford’s betrayal is so unforgivable.
Which brings us to John Carrindine– who played Robert Ford in Jesse James (1939).
Between the 1930’s and he 1990’s John Carradine
appeared in about 230 movies!!!
– not counting TV appearances and TV movies.
That makes him one of the most prolific Actors in Film History.
Not sure how many Westerns he made, but there would have been a lot.
Several were Western Classics including Stagecoach(1939), Johnny Guitar (1954) The Kentuckian (1955), The Shootist (1970) …
Between scenes he had time for 4 wives and 5 children,
most of whom also became Actors.
3 of his sons Starred in another Jesse JamesWestern called:
The Long Riders (1980)
A Remarkable Cast
of 4 sets of Brothers:
Jesse James (James Keach) and Frank James (Stacy Keach) Cole Younger (David Carradine), Jim Younger (Keith Carradine) and Bob Younger (Robert Carradine)
Ed Miller (Dennis Quaid) and Clell Miller (Randy Quaid)
Charley Ford (Christopher Guest) and Robert Ford (Nicholas Guest)
Most of these depicted outlaws did ride for theJames – Younger gang at one time or another, but the movie takes liberty in putting them all together at the same time. But, like mostJesse Jamesmovies, this is not a documentary. Wikipedia says: “TheJames-Younger gang… had over 50 different members over the years.” The actual gang that attempted the ill fated Northfield Bank robbery consisted of of brothersJesseandFrankJames; brothersBob, Jim, andColeYounger; Clell Miller; Charlie Pitts; andBill Stiles.
Have you seen this stunt below? It’s in Jesse James (1939).
It’s one of the most famous movie stunts in Film History.
But not because it’s spectacular. (Though it is)But because of what it stirred up. You see, the horse died. Panicked and drowned.The public outrage and outcry was so great
that it led to the creation of:
The American Humane Association
In 1940, American Humane (AH) became the sole monitoring body for the humane treatment of animals on the sets of Hollywood films and other broadcast productions. American Humane is best known for its trademarked certification “No Animals Were Harmed®”, which appears at the end of film or television credits.
“We are first to serve, wherever animals are in need of rescue, shelter, protection or security. Through our innovative leadership initiatives – from our “No Animals Were Harmed®” program in Hollywood to broad-based farm and conservation animal welfare certifications, to rapid response rescue and care across the country – American Humane sets the gold standard as the most visionary and effective animal welfare organization in the nation.”
Prior to this there were no safety standards for beast – or man – in film stunting.
This changed it all.
Coming to the fore was legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. He, along with other rodeo performers, brought a battery of rodeo techniques that Canutt would expand and improve upon, including horse falls and safer methods for many kinds of stunts, including gear and techniques for performing and planning stunts, harnesses, cable rigs and protective equipment to make many stunts almost foolproof. Both horses and stuntmen were now trained in stunt schools. Medical support and First Aide became readily available.
Does that mean stunting is now 100% safe?
Of course not. Stunting is a dangerous by it’s nature. And although such dangers have been greatly minimized and monitored there will always be occasional incidents/accidents.
Yet it is still vastly improved over what went on before. Prior to 1939 nobody really seemed to care.
The Jump across Devil’s Gulch
But just where did the idea for the infamous stunt come from?
I believe it was likely inspired by another piece of Jesse James lore: Jesse’s famous jump across Devil’s Gulch. (Good Grief!! I know that sounds like something from a dime novel or a matinee serial … or something?!) But it isn’t.
The back story:
The James/Younger Gang’s bank robbery at Northfield, Minnesota was a disaster. When the smoke cleared the Younger brothers were badly wounded and captured. Jesse and Frank James raced out of town with a rabid posse hot on their tail.
The ensuing chase resulted in the legend of Jesse James: the leap across Devil’s Gulch, South Dakota.
Many believe the 18 to 20 foot jump is impossible
– or at least pretty unlikely .
Ask these questions:
Did Jesse have the chops? the will? the courage? the bravado? the desperation? the horsemanship to pull off such a stunt?
Damn right. On all counts.
The only question that remains is: did he have the horse to pull it off? My guess is that Jesse wouldn’t be riding a nag. He was an expert horseman who had performed many robberies and holdups
and would likely have a pretty good steed for getaways. And with a bloodthirsty posse hot on his trail
desperate times call for desperate measures.
The smell of death is a strong motivator.
I definitely think he would chance such a thing. And could pull it off.
But I’m not saying it really happened.
Just that he could have done it.
1972 / Glendale Train / New Riders of the Purple Sage
Jesse James (1939)
Jesse James was a smash hit and the fourth largest-grossing film of 1939, behind Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and in front of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
That’s a hell of a year for Movies – those are 4Classics.
A sequel, The Return of Frank James, directed by Fritz Lang and with Henry Fonda reprising his role as Frank James along with a variety of other actors playing the same characters as they had in Jesse James,
was released in 1940.
It seems almost daily that somebody finds another photo
of Jesse James or Billy the Kid. A lot are fakes or false of course, but even some that
are authentic are so bizarre that you have shake your head.
Like this one with Robert Ford (Jesse assassin)
and Jesse himself seated together.
It’s rather amazing.
And is that a top knot on Jesse’s head?
I wanted to post an authentic Jesse James “Wanted Poster” here,
but I couldn’t identify even one that I can confidence in.
Between 1921 and 2007 we count 28 movies about Jesse James
or where Jesse James was a prominent character.
Between 1911 and 2011 we count 23 movies about Billy the Kid
or where Billy the Kid was a prominent character.
If this was a football game, The Kid needs a touchdown.
But it’s not a football game.
It’s the stories of two killers. Two men driven to violence and killing …
who have become Western folk heroes.
Until they were assassinated by their friends.
Jesse James / 1939
The movie was criticized for Historical inaccuracies.
Not that I care. It is not a documentary.
Jesse James (1939) was the 4th movie about Jesse James.
The Epic Story of the most Colourful Outlaw who ever lived
Motion Pictures’ Supreme Epic !
The world branded him . . . an OUTLAW . . . a KILLER . . . a WOLF . . . but to the simple folk who knew him he was a victim of injustice – and to the girl who loved him he was brave and a gentle lover ! !
The Tremendous Dramatic Thrills Of the Midwest’s Lawless Era will burst from our screen…
Tyrone was the third Tyrone Power in the Acting profession.
– going all the way back to William Grattan Tyrone Power: Irish stage Actor, Comedian, Author and theatrical manager.
Sometimes called Tyrone Power I.
Through his paternal great-grandmother, Anne Gilbert, Power was related to the actor Laurence Olivier; through his paternal grandmother, stage actress Ethel Lavenu, he was related by marriage to author Evelyn Waugh; and through his father’s first cousin, Norah Emily Gorman Power, he was related to the theatrical director Sir (William) Tyrone Guthrie, founder of the Stratford Festival (now the Stratford Shakespeare Festival) in Canada and the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re talking about an amazing heritage, linage and kinship in the Entertainment and and Acting fraternity/profession.
That’s a hell of a legacy.
Tyrone PowerI was lost at sea in March 1841,
when the SS President disappeared without trace in the North Atlantic.
He was 46.
Tyrone Power II
Between 1886 and 1931 appeared worked in 47 Stage productions
– several Shakespearean.
Between 1914 to 1931 me appeared in 40 silent films
and one “Talkie“.
But that Talkie was interesting and notable. It was one of John Wayne’s
first Westerns, The Big Trail.
Tyrone Sr. seemed to play a lot of badguys.
About as bad as you can get.
At home one night after shooting on the film ‘The Miracle Man‘ in 1931, he suffered a massive heart attack and died literally in the arms of his
17-year-old son, Tyrone Power.
He was 64 years old.
The Death of Tyrone Power
Madrid, Spain / November 1958. While filming the climactic swordfight scene with George Sanders for Solomon and Sheba, Power is suddenly strickenby a heart attack. He dies within an hour. Tyrone Power was 45 years old.
The son he had always wanted, Tyrone Power IV, was born 2 months after his death.
Young Tyrone active Actor with 21 acting credits.
UPCOMING: Henry Hathaway Director of Westerns / RAWHIDE (1951) /
Tyrone Power / Part 2
and possibly a bit of Swashbuckling!
Henry Hathaway Directed about 27 Westerns. Four during the 50’s.
In 1951, Hathaway entered the Golden Age of Westerns riding high,
Directing top projects Starring the top players of the day.
Such was Rawhide, Starring Susan Hayward and Tyrone Power.
Rawhide / 1951
A story told with a blazing .44 !
Power and Hayward, share Top Bill.
Famous Lone Pine (location) never looked so good.
Whew !… it’s steamy out here in the desert.
These steamy posters (and some Preview Trailers) were typical of a lot of Movie advertising in the 40’s and 50’s which often advertised Movies in completely misleading, sensationalized, exaggerated – or even non-existent – ways. It seemed that the Marketing people had free reign to sell the product any way they wanted or could. Inferred sexual shenanigans was a popular ploy. In other words, your likelihood of actually seeing Tyrone Power groping Susan Hayward was highly unlikely (if that’s what you were going to the movie for?) And didn’t happen.
The only real groper in the Movie is the backshooting, kid shooting, lecherous, leering JACK ELAM! (Did I mention that he plays a badguy?)
Although Jack had appeared in 13 previous movies, he says Rawhidewas his breakthrough role – and he has a sizable part with plenty of dialogue.He had made his mark and in Rawhide, he really chews the scenery and steals almost every scene he’s in.
It’s interesting that some Support/Character Actors appeared
in more Classic Movies that Top Billed Stars.