Zorro - The Legend Through The Years

   Zorro's Fighting Legion - 1939

Reed Hadley is Don Diego Vega and Zorro Reed Hadley
Don Diego Vega and Zorro
William Corson
William Corson is Ramon
Leander De Cordova is Felipe Leander De Cordova
Edmund Cobb
Edmund Cobb is Gonzales
John Merton is Manuel John Merton
C. Montague Shaw
C. Montague Shaw is Pablo
Budd Buster is Juan Budd Buster
James Pierce
James Pierce is Moreno
Sheila Darcy is Volita Sheila Darcy
Helen Mitchel
Doña Maria
Helen Mitchel is Dona Maria
Carleton Young is Benito Juarez Carleton Young
Benito Juarez
Guy D'Ennery
Guy D'Ennery is Francisco
Chapter 1 Chapter 4 Chapter 7 Chapter 10
Chapter 2 Chapter 5 Chapter 8 Chapter 11
Chapter 3 Chapter 6 Chapter 9 Chapter 12
Theme Music - Short Version Theme Music - Long Version
Chapter 1:  The Golden God
In 1810 the Mexican people revolted against centuries of tyranny.  By 1824 the old Spanish provinces had formed themselves into the United States of Mexico.
This story takes place in the Mexican province of San Mendolito.

Benito Juarez tells the governor and San Mendolito council members that they must keep fighting because Mexico still has enemies.  He tells them that Mexico needs gold and that the San Mendolito mine is the richest in Mexico.  Juarez is unaware that four of the men on the council are enemies of Mexico:  Felipe, Manuel, Pablo, and Gonzales.  One of these four men masquerades as Don del Oro, a Yaqui Indian god.  Don del Oro is leading the Indians in an uprising and has ordered them to attack and steal the gold shipments.

Francisco, one of the other council members, escorts Benito Juarez to his coach.  Pablo overhears Francisco tell Juarez that he has organized a group of patriots to combat any more Yaqui Indian attacks on the gold shipments.  The men decide to take care of Francisco.
Ramon fights the bandit who attacked Francisco.

Zorro cuts a 'Z' on the bandit's forehead.

Meanwhile, Francisco goes to the cantina with Ramon.  Francisco is attacked by a bandit while he is sitting in the cantina.  Zorro arrives after Francisco has been mortally wounded.  Zorro cuts a "Z" on the forehead of one of the bandits, and the bandits escape.  Zorro runs to Francisco and calls him "Uncle."  Ramon overhears and realizes that Zorro is Don Diego Vega.  Just before Francisco dies, he tells Diego that he must take his place on the council and that Ramon will tell him everything. Zorro arrives to fight the bandit.

Francisco calls Zorro 'Diego.'

One of Don de Oro's men ignores the signal which calls Don de Oro's men to a meeting.  He says that he is tied of playing servant to Don del Oro.  A golden arrow is shot at him as a death sentence, and later, he is flung into the pit of fire at Don del Oro's headquarters.

Volita, Ramon's sister, and Doña Maria eagerly await Don Diego's arrival.  They are disappointed when he arrives and they find that he is a fop.  Diego complains that his journey was fatiguing and that "thinking bores me."

A meeting of the group of patriots is called.  Ramon tells them that Zorro is their new leader and that they are now "Zorro's Fighting Legion."  Zorro addresses the Legion:

One of Don del Oro's men receives his death sentence.

Do�a Maria and Volita are introduced to Don Diego.

Patriots.  You all know the purposes for which Francisco asked you to band together.  Traitors must perish.  Law must be enforced.  Our republic must prosper.  As your new leader, I hope to achieve these purposes in spite of all danger, all opposition.
Unfortunately, a traitor is present and carries a message to Don del Oro's men about the Legion's plans.  The Legion is able to thwart an attack on the gold shipment, but the gold shipment is endangered by a blocked pass which is dynamited just as the gold shipment approaches it.
Chapter 2:  The Flaming "Z"
Zorro warns the men just in time for them to escape the dynamite.  The treacherous council members inform the rest of the San Mendolito council that Zorro was the one who attacked the gold shipment.  Manuel and Felipe suggest a reward for the capture of Zorro and his Fighting Legion.  Don Diego protests, "Oh, but is that enough?  If this Zorro is as terrible as you say he is, I should think his capture would be worth much more than that!"  Don Diego plays with his handkerchief the entire time.
Don Diego and Ramon see the notice of the execution.

Don del Oro's men light the Flaming Z.

One of the Legionnaires is captured and is to be executed.  Zorro calls a meeting of the Legion by burning a flaming "Z" on a hillside.  The Legion makes plans to rescue the captured man.  The next morning, Zorro and Ramon prevent the execution by tossing a couple of beehives into the middle of the soldiers.  In the tumult, they rescue the captured man.

Don del Oro's men discover the legion's meeting place.  They light a candle which is adjacent to a fuse that leads to gunpowder.  Once the candle burns down, the fuse will be lit.  Don del Oro's men light the flaming "Z" to call a meeting of the Legion to lure all of the members to the spot.  Once the Legion members have gathered inside the building, Zorro realizes that something is wrong and urges the men to flee.  The men escape, but the gunpowder explodes with Zorro appearing to still be inside the building.

Chapter 3:  Descending Doom
Zorro is able to escape by using his whip to swing out of a window just as the building explodes.  Zorro has Juan trail Don del Oro's men.  Juan discovers that they are using a secret room in the San Mendolito mine to make the golden arrows that the Yaquis shoot.  Don Diego and Ramon go to the mine to see if Juan needs help.  Juan's presence is about to be discovered by Gonzales when Don Diego and Ramon help him to escape.  After Juan escapes, Don Diego and Ramon capture one of Don del Oro's men.  The man refuses to reveal anything until Don Diego offers him money.  The man is about to reveal what he knows when a golden arrow is shot through the window and kills him. Don Diego, Ramon, and Gonzales look for the escaped man.

Don Diego and Ramon capture one of Don del Oro's men.

Don Diego helps Do�a Maria with her knitting.

Don del Oro orders the mine destroyed.

Don del Oro orders his men to destroy the San Mendolito mine.  Don Diego suspects that something will happen at the mine and calls the Legion into action by lighting the flaming "Z."  Zorro sneaks into the mine and is seen by Moreno.  As they fight, Zorro is knocked down into the elevator shaft, and Moreno lights a fuse that will lead to some gunpowder which will blow up the elevator shaft.  Moreno and his men shut the elevator door and lock Zorro inside.  Zorro knocks the fuse away from the gunpowder.  Meanwhile, the men outside the mine have been hauling up the last load.  When the men outside the mine see the Legion approaching, they let go of the wheel which is holding up the elevator, and the elevator falls towards Zorro.  It appears that Zorro has no way of escaping.
Chapter 4:  The Bridge of Peril

Zorro stands against the side of the elevator shaft to avoid being hit by the elevator.  The Legion battles the Yaqui Indians; during the battle, Zorro picks up a pistol that one of the men dropped.  He asks Juan to see if he can find out who bought it.

The treacherous council members vow to intercept the gold shipment. The treacherous men on the council discuss that a shipment of ammunition which was purchased by Juarez with San Mendolito's gold will be coming through the next day.  They vow to intercept that shipment and give the ammunition to the Yaquis.  They trick everyone to believe that the shipment is delayed so that the military will not meet it.
Juan discovers that the pistol was purchased at Hernandez Armeria, but the owner will tell him who bought it.  Zorro breaks in and overhears that the shipment is not delayed.  The men discover his presence and fight Zorro.  Zorro is able to escape.  Zorro is chased by Don del Oro's men and tries to cross a suspension bridge when a Yaqui Indian cuts the ropes. Zorro discovers that the gold shipment has not been delayed.
Chapter 5:  The Decoy
Zorro manages to hold on to the bridge as it falls.  He slips off of it onto a ledge and escapes.  Don del Oro's men manage to intercept the ammunition shipment. The Legion catches up to Don del Oro's men and find the wagons empty.  The Legion has been tricked and now must find where the ammunition has been hidden.
Zorro promises to deliver the ammunition to the council.

Zorro attempts to stop the wagon.

The council receives a note from Zorro claiming to know where the ammunition is being stored.  Zorro promises to bring the ammunition to the council within 24 hours.  The treacherous men on the council decide that they must move the stolen arms just in case Zorro does know where they are hidden.  Zorro's men split up to watch the entire area and use carrier pigeons to communicate.  The Legion is summoned to the proper spot as soon as Don del Oro's men begin moving the ammunition.  Zorro's men intercept the ammunition, and the Legionnaires and Don del Oro's men have a shootout.  Don del Oro's men roll a wagon filled with gunpowder towards the Legionnaires.  Zorro rides up to the wagon and jumps on it in an attempt to intercept it before it hits his men.  The wagon crashes and explodes.
Chapter 6:  Zorro to the Rescue
Zorro diverts the wagon and jumps off of it right before it explodes.  Zorro and his men attack Don del Oro's men from two directions and manage to run them off, thereby saving the ammunition.  The Legion returns the ammunition to the plaza, accompanied by a note from Zorro. Zorro informs the council that he always keeps his promises.
Manuel and Felipe try to find out why Ramon and Diego missed the council meeting.

Zorro is trapped in the torture chamber.

Felipe arrives at the Vega ranch and questions Volita, asking her why Diego and Ramon were not present at the council meeting.  Later, Manuel and Felipe see Ramon speaking to Zorro and decide to capture Ramon and make him tell who Zorro is.  Don del Oro arranges to have Ramon captured when he leaves the chapel.  Don Diego realizes that something is wrong when he finds Juan tied up outside the chapel.  Ramon and Volita's carriage is being driven by one of Don del Oro's men.  Ramon and Volita are taken to the dungeon, where Zorro travels to rescue them.  Zorro is discovered and must fight Don del Oro's men.  Zorro ducks into a torture chamber and is locked inside.  Don del Oro's men operate the gears that force one wall to move towards the opposite wall.  If Zorro does not find a way to escape, then he will be smashed to death.
Chapter 7:  The Fugitive
Zorro pries up one of the rocks from the floor and wedges it between the two walls of the torture chamber.  The men stop trying to kill Zorro and flee when an alarm is sounded that the Legion is approaching.  As the Legionnaires break into the dungeon, Zorro is able to rescue Ramon and Volita.
Don Diego is relieved that Volita and Ramon are safe.

Diego tells Ramon that he is suspicious of Manuel.

Ramon and Volita are returned home by the Legionnaires.  Don Diego expresses great relief that they are safe and is shocked that the bandit Zorro saved them.  Volita is disgusted with Diego.  After Volita enters the hacienda, Diego and Ramon speak; Diego suspects that Manuel is either Don del Oro or one of Don del Oro's men.  Diego decides to try to trap Manuel.

Don Diego rides to the plaza and tells Manuel that one of Don del Oro's men came to him, wishing to reveal Don del Oro's identity in return for money.  Don Diego states that he paid the man 1000 pesos, and that later that afternoon, Don Diego is to go to a certain place to pick up a note that will contain the desired information.  Don Diego requests that Manuel go with him.

When Diego and Manuel find the slip of paper, Moreno holds them up and takes the paper.  After Moreno leaves, Manuel comments that they are no better off than they were before.  Diego pulls a gun and says that they now know Manuel is in league with Don del Oro because only Diego and Manuel knew that they were going to find out Don del Oro's identity.  Diego's hands shake uncontrollably as he points the gun, and Manuel is afraid Diego will shoot him. Diego brings Manuel before the San Mendolito council.  Manuel refuses to answer their questions, grabs a gun, and flees in a stagecoach.  Zorro rides after the stagecoach, leaps onto the horses, and tries to stop them.  Manuel fires a gun at Zorro, and Zorro falls down between the running horses. Don Diego asks Manuel to accompany him when he retrieves the note.

Don Diego shakes uncontrollably as he points the gun at Manuel.

Chapter 8:  Flowing Death
Zorro falls between the galloping horses.

Zorro disguises Ramon as Manuel.

Zorro and Ramon fight Don del Oro's men.

After the stagecoach passes above Zorro, he grabs onto the back and pulls himself up onto the stagecoach.  Zorro subdues the driver, but the stagecoach separates from the horses and crashes.  Manuel is badly hurt.  Zorro takes Manuel to Juan's cabin, hoping that he will talk when he recovers.  Zorro and Juan wrap Ramon in bandages and take him to the jail.  Ramon will masquerade as Manuel in hope that Don del Oro's men will rescue him and take him to Don del Oro's hideout.

Don del Oro decides that Manuel is no longer of use to him, so his men set the jail on fire.  Don Diego and Juan rescue Ramon; Don Diego tells Ramon to ride off on a horse, making it look like Manuel is escaping.  As Ramon gallops away, some of Don del Oro's men chase and capture him.  Ramon is taken to Don del Oro's hideout.  The real Manuel escapes from Juan's cabin and arrives at Don del Oro's hideout just after Zorro does.  Don del Oro realizes that they have been tricked when he sees Manuel and plans to execute both Manuel and his imposter.  Zorro reveals his presence, and Zorro and Ramon fight Don del Oro's men as Manuel escapes.  Don del Oro orders his men to break open the dyke.  Zorro and Ramon appear trapped ahead of the flood of water.

Chapter 9:  The Golden Arrow
Zorro and Ramon find themselves in an air pocket so they have time to breathe in enough air so that they can swim to safety.  Zorro and Ramon meet up with the Legion.  Manuel is caught by the Legion and agrees to tell them Don del Oro's identity.  Just as Manuel says, "Don del Oro is . . . ," a Yaqui Indian shoots him with a golden arrow. Zorro and the Legion plan their next move.
Don Diego says he would be flattered if someone were to think he was Zorro.

An Indian shoots a golden arrow at Don Diego.

At the next council meeting, Felipe recalls recent events and explains how those events indicate that Manuel is Don del Oro.  Several council members agree, but Ramon disagrees, giving an example of how Gonzales could just as easily be in league with Don del Oro.  Gonzales counters that him being Don del Oro is as ridiculous as someone saying that Don Diego is Zorro.  Don Diego replies, "Why . . . why I believe I'd be flattered!"  Pablo comments that Diego and Zorro have never been seen at the same time, and that Zorro's activities began just after Diego arrived in San Mendolito.  Pablo asks Diego to explain himself.  Don Diego hesitates, then confesses that he has met Zorro on several occasions.  Don Diego mentions that he was with Zorro when Manuel was shot with the golden arrow.  Pablo asks Diego whether Manuel revealed anything about Don del Oro before he died.  Diego answers that he did.  As Diego continues, a Yaqui Indian aims a golden arrow through the window at Diego and shoots.
Chapter 10:  Wagon Train
The golden arrow misses Diego.  Diego and Ramon run after the Indian but cannot find him.  They suspect that the Indian climbed inside a water tank on a wagon, but Gonzales vouches for the driver's honesty, and the driver leaves with the wagon.  Don Diego is still suspicious; he and Ramon go to the mine to inquire about the wagon.  Diego and Ramon are attacked by Don del Oro's men while they are on the road but are able to get away.

Diego and Ramon discover that Hernandez Armeria is smuggling arms to the Yaquis.  Zorro sneaks into the Armeria and tries to trap the men in the basement.  The men in the basement are able to alert the men outside, who come to fight Zorro.  Zorro fights the men, but is knocked unconscious.  An Indian who was helping the men is also knocked unconscious.  The men throw Zorro in the water tank on the wagon as the patrol approaches.  To explain the Indian's presence, the men tell the patrol that the Indian was trying to steal arms.  The Indian is taken to jail.  The wagon and men leave town with Zorro still in the tank.  The Legion rides in pursuit of the wagon.  During the chase, the driver is knocked off of the wagon, the horse team is separated from the wagon, and the wagon crashes into the water with Zorro still trapped inside the water tank.

Don Diego and Ramon think the Indian is hiding in the water tank.

Zorro sneaks into Hernandez Armeria.

The water wagon rolls towards the cliff.

Chapter 11:  Face to Face
Zorro is able to escape from the water tank.  Diego and Ramon learn that Kala, the Yaqui Indian caught trying to smuggle firearms, is to be tried that day.  The treacherous council members insist that Kala be hanged for his crime.  Don Diego protests, saying that it will arouse the Indians.  Later, the treacherous council members gleefully discuss how Kala's death will cause the Indians to attack San Mendolito.  Zorro and the Legion plan to stop the execution. Zorro swims ashore after escaping from the water tank.
Zorro and Kala become blood brothers.

Zorro shows Kala that Don del Oro's headpiece is empty.

As the executioner prepares to begin the execution, wagons loaded with what appear to be bombs roll into the plaza.  In the resulting confusion, the Legionnaires are able to escape with Kala.  Kala rides off with Zorro and Ramon.  Zorro and Kala cut their wrists and become blood brothers.  Zorro manages to convince Kala to take him to see Don del Oro.  Zorro wishes to prove to Kala that a white man has defiled the Yaqui god and is using the image of Don del Oro to turn the Yaquis against the white man.

Zorro and Kala enter Don del Oro's cave.  Zorro and Kala approach Don del Oro.  Zorro lifts up the headpiece so that Kala can see that it is empty.  Zorro has Kala summon his entire tribe.  Zorro and Kala lead the Yaquis to the cave to see that Don del Oro is fake.  Just as Zorro approaches Don del Oro, Don del Oro stands up.  The Indians try to kill Zorro.

Chapter 12:  Unmasked
Zorro grabs a keg of powder and throws it into the flaming pit, which causes the Indians to flee and enables Zorro to escape.  Zorro overhears Don del Oro tell his men that the Yaquis will attack San Mendolito at noon, that he himself is on the San Mendolito council, and that he will have the military diverted from San Mendolito before the attack occurs.  Zorro rides to the Vega hacienda and tells Do�a Maria and Volita to summon the Legion.  When Volita protests that she doesn't know how, Zorro replies, "You'll find a list of their names in a dresser in my room."  Zorro briefly removes his mask, much to their surprise.  Zorro rides to the plaza and bursts in upon the council meeting, asking who sent the military out of San Mendolito because that man is Don del Oro.  Ramon is about to tell him when Don del Oro's men run into the room and fight Ramon and Zorro.  The three treacherous council members escape. Zorro must escape from Don del Oro.

Zorro addresses the San Mendolito council.

Don del Oro kills his accomplices.

Don del Oro prepares to kill Kala.

Ramon and Kala sign a peace treaty.

In Don del Oro's cave, one of the treacherous council members changes into the Don del Oro disguise.  Afterwards, he shoots the other two men so that his identity will remain a secret forever.  Inside the main part of the cave, Kala tries to convince the other Yaquis that Don del Oro will not appear before them.  Another Indian turns over an hourglass and states that Don del Oro will appear before the hourglass runs empty.  Just as time runs out, Don del Oro appears.  Zorro arrives and wrestles with Don del Oro.  During the fight, Don del Oro's headgear falls off, and Don del Oro is revealed as a fraud to the Yaquis.  The Yaquis immediately turn on the false god and force him into the pit of fire.

As Don Diego prepares to leave San Mendolito, Kala, now chief of the Yaquis, and Ramon, San Mendolito's new governor, sign a peace treaty.  Doña Maria and Volita tell Diego how much they will miss him.  Diego remarks that he must return to California, but that he will return someday.  Diego praises Benito Juarez for what he has done for Mexico; Ramon and Juarez praise Diego, and in particular, Zorro, for everything he has done for Mexico and San Mendolito.


While this movie serial changes the setting from California to a Mexican province and has a very unique story, it is the most accurate portrayal of Zorro of any of the serials.  It is the only serial to use swords as well as guns, and the only serial in which Zorro leaves his mark of a "Z" on an opponent.  Additionally, the main character is the real Zorro and not just a descendant of Zorro.

This serial is a very significant version of Zorro because many of the action sequences that have become associated with the Zorro legend were first used in this serial.  Zorro is seen leaping off of a wall onto the back of his horse; Zorro cuts a man's suspenders so that his pants fall down; Zorro jumps across a deep ravine on his horse; Zorro swings from a chandelier; and Zorro is trapped on a suspension bridge when the ropes holding it are cut.

Also of note is the fact that this serial is the only Zorro remake which has a band of caballeros assisting Zorro, an idea which was present in Johnston McCulley's original story and in Douglas Fairbanks' original screen portrayal of that story.  Additionally, Zorro reveals his identity to an Indian; in Johnston McCulley's stories, the Indians knew Zorro's identity.  This serial also uses the flaming "Z" as a signal which was a plot device used first in the movie The Bold Caballero.

Amongst movie serial buffs, this movie serial is considered one of the finest movie serials ever made.  The music is fantastically suspenseful, quickening in tempo as each cliffhanger approaches.  The cliffhangers consist of uniquely creative situations which continually keep the audience wondering whether Zorro can possibly survive.  Reed Hadley does a fine acting job, showing us a very confident and decisive Zorro while showing us an easily shaken and passive Don Diego.

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