“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.
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