Notes on the Movie
This was the movie that started Tyrone Power on his way to becoming one of the greatest swashbucklers in Hollywood history. He would make several others, and this was the type of role for which he is best remembered. The movie is the most famous of Ty's costume dramas.
The story was originally done by Douglas Fairbanks in the silent film, The Mark of Zorro.
The great Hollywood swordsman, Basil Rathbone, stated, "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." (Basil Rathbone appeared with Errol Flynn in such films as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood.)
The movie was originally titled The Californian, with ad campaign using this name.
About The Mark of Zorro, Darryl Zanuck wrote on June 1, 1939, that "Each gag and each trick, even though contrived, must be contrived to appear logical and honest. We are still overemphasizing heroics. We must soft-pedal the obvious heroics and melodrama and we must never force or reach for anything."
It was Darryl Zanuck's idea to add another female lead to Mark of Zorro. In addition to Lolita (played by Linda Darnell), there would also be the "governor's daughter" (which was later changed to Governor's wife).
In July 1939, Zanuck wrote a firm letter to Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, outlining a few complaints that he had with respect to films that Warner was planning which would be similar to those planned by Fox. Among the "problem films" was one which similar to Mark of Zorro. Zanuck wrote that he'd read about Warner's preparation for a story on the history of early Los Angeles during the time of Mexican rule. He told Warner that they had been working on the story for the past year and that, as soon as Ty Power returned from his European honeymoon, The Mark of Zorro would go into production. He continued to say, "The only reason I am bringing this to your attention is so that you will not be put to any unnecessary expense if you feel that our story by coming first is apt to take the edge off your proposed production."