The Mark of Zorro
is a 1920 film starring Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks is Don Diego Vega, a lazy, effete nobleman in the days of Spanish California. Lolita Pulido, his fiancee in an arranged marriage, finds him dull and uninspiring. What she doesn't know is that he is actually Zorro
, the masked avenger who is fighting the oppressive Governor Alvarado and his villainous henchmen Capt. Ramon and Sgt. Gonzales. Zorro crusades for justice and rallies the people of California against their oppressive overlords.
This film was basically the Trope Maker
for the whole Zorro
franchise. It was based on the first Zorro story, "The Curse of Capistrano", published just the year before, but the story featured a Zorro that wore a sombrero and threatened people with a gun. This film invented the masked swordsman that became popular. It also marked a change in direction for Fairbanks, who had spent his career to date making light comedies but would spend the rest of The Twenties
making elaborate action films.
It was remade in 1940 with Tyrone Power and in 1974 with Frank Langella.