Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Bold Caballero

Go To

The Bold Caballero is a 1936 adventure film written and directed by Wells Root. The film is notable for being the first talking Zorro film, as the first two Zorro films were silent films, and the first Zorro film in color (Magnacolor).

Don Diego (Robert Livingston) is fighting for the peons against the Commandante Sebastian Golle (Sig Ruman). Shortly after Governor Palma (Robert Warwick) and his daughter Isabella (Heather Angel) arrive, the Governor is killed and marked with a Z. When Don Diego's identity as Zorro is revealed to Isabella, she has the Commandante arrest him as the killer. But he convinces her the Commandante was the killer as the Z was backwards.


  • Agony of de Feet: During their duel in the Governor's residence, Don Diego stabs the Commandante in the foot with a rapier.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: After Don Diego's secret is exposed, the Commandante has Diego and Isabella thrown into the dungeons: Diego so he can execute him later, and Isabella so she cannot report back to the King of Spain on his treasons. The Commandante makes it clear that the only way that Isabella will ever leave the dungeons is if she agrees to marry him, which would legitimise his claim on the province. Being a pre-Code era film, the implicit threat of rape in this demand is quite evident.
  • Arrows on Fire: During the climax, Zorro and his Indian allies storm the compound firing flaming arrows at the Commandante and his troops.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The Commandante holds a bullfight to celebrate Isabella's birthday. When he turns the bull loose on a group of prisoners—including a child—Don Diego is forced to play matador.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When nobody rescues the child from the bullring despite Isabella's order to do so, she climbs down and saves him herself.
  • The Cavalry: Summoned by the signal fires, the local tribes arrive and storm the Commandante's compound just as Zorro and his allies are in danger of being overwhelmed. Yes, this time The Cavalry are the Indians!
  • Chandelier Swing: After losing his sword during the fight in Isabella's residence, Don Diego manages to avoid the guards by climbing on to the fireplace, then leaping on to one small chandelier and swinging to the next.
  • Combat Haircomb: Isabella's duenna stabs the Commandante in the shoulder with the sharp comb used to hold up her mantilla.
  • Costume Copycat: The Commandante dresses as Zorro when he murders the Governor.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Following Zorro's theft of the reward money, the Spanish soldiers return thinking they have captured Zorro. However, when Isabella pulls his mask off, it is revealed to be a gagged Commandante.
  • Disguised in Drag: When Zorro, Isabella and her duenna are being held in the dungeons, Zorro and the duenna swap clothes, so that when Zorro is dragged out to be executed, it is only when they have 'him' on the scaffold do they discover that 'he' is actually an old woman, and Zorro, dressed as an old woman is on the roof firing flaming arrows at them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Commandante oppresses the local populace, steals the taxes destined for Spain, murders the Governor by stabbing him in the back, threatens to take a lash to his daughter, and tries to execute a child with a bull, but even he draws the line at murdering priests.
  • Filching Food for Fun: Zorro robs the wagon bringing supplies to the inn and steals the special supper ordered for the new governor. Then, as Don Diego, he meets the governor at the inn and, when the governor discovers there is no supper, Diego offers to share his own supper that he brought with him (which is actually the stolen supper). The governor declines, but his daughter Isabella accepts Diego's invitation.
  • Give Me a Sword: During the final battle, Don Diego finds himself facing down the evil Commandante and a band of his guards armed only with a whip and a burning stick. Things are looking black until Isabella tosses him a sabre from the general melee going on in the courtyard. Properly armed, Diego makes short work of the Commandante, whose men then fold like a cheap suit.
  • Hates My Secret Identity: For much of the film, Isabella is attracted to Don Diego; regarding him as amusing even if he is an Upper-Class Twit. However, she hates Zorro with a passion; believing that he murdered her father and having vowed to hunt him down and see him hanged.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: The Commandante plays Costume Copycat and attempts to frame Zorro for the murder of the Governor. However, being only semi-literate, he carves the Zorro Mark backwards: an 'S' rather than a 'Z'.
  • In the Back: The Commandante murders the Governor by throwing a knife into his back.
  • Instant Knots: Zorro wraps his whip around the waist of a mounted soldier, where it immediately grips him like a lasso: allowing Zorro to yank him off and steal his horse.
  • Pain to the Ass: While trying to escape over the fence during the bullfight, the Commandante gets gored in the ass by the bull.
  • Pantomime Animal: The Commandante holds a bullfight for Isabella's birthday. It at first appears to be burlesque bullfight with a 'bull' consisting of two men in a costume. However, he later releases a real bull into the ring. The first thing it does is attack the fake bull.
  • Playing Cyrano : Don Diego plays this role for the Commandante, helping him to woo Isabella as part of his plan to stay close to both of them till he can prove Zorro's innocence.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Don Diego serenades Isabella outside her inn window playing a guitar which magically acquires a full orchestral accompaniment.
  • Shoot the Rope: As the Commandante is about to hang Isabella's duenna, Zorro and his Indians shoot flaming arrows into the scaffold, where they burn the rope so that it snaps when the trapdoor is opened.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The Commandante and his sergeant are both very fond of using a whip upon the local natives.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Isabella's duenna stabs the Commandante in the shoulder with the sharp comb used to hold up her mantilla.
  • Whip of Dominance: Sebastian Golle is a sadistic and ruthless Commandante of the local army who tyrannically oppresses the local native population, including personally whipping them for tax evasion, something that horrifies Isabella. Many of his men also wield whips, implying whipping the natives is a common method to keep them in line. Zorro seems to make a point of stealing the whips and using them on the soldiers whenever he can.
  • Would Hurt a Child: On Isabella's birthday, the Commandante has a group of prisoners led into the bullring with their hands tied behind their backs and their feet hobbled: to die at the horns and hooves of the bull if Zorro does not reveal himself. One of the prisoners is a child. Isabelle is rightly disgusted and horrified at this, and demands that the Commandante at least release the child. he refuses, gloating that the child is necessary to the trap, as there is no way Zorro could refuse to appear to rescue a child. He then releases the bull into the ring.
  • Zorro Mark: As in all Zorro stories, Zorro carves a 'Z' on the flesh of his targets. The Commandante carves one on the Governor's body to frame Zorro for his murder.