Sunday, March 6, 2011

Maybe you haven't seen this story before

TCM is airing a pair of movies in the next 24 hours that are interesting because you know the story, but might not have seen the movie version. First, at midnight ET tonight, is this week's Silent Sunday Night feature (back now that 31 Days of Oscar is over: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Of course, you know the story, and I'm sure I've at least briefly pointed out the Fredric March version (which won March an Oscar) as well as the MGM remake starring Spencer Tracy. Tonight's showing, however, is a 1920 silent starring John Barrymore, which doesn't show up all that often. IMDb claims that six movies based on the same material were made before the Barrymore version, and dozens since.

Tomorrow morning at 6:45 AM ET, you can watch The Mark of Zorro. Again, you probably know the story. Again, however, this is a movie version you might not have seen before, as it too is a 1920 silent, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., the screen's original swashbuckler. I had thought (correctly) that all the Zorro movies were based on an earlier literary character, but a little more research surprised me. This particular Zorro movie is based on Johnston McCulley's story "The Curse of Capistrano", which was only published in 1919, making this the first Zorro movie. I haven't read the original story, but Wikipedia claims that Fairbanks' making Zorro a masked man wasn't in the original. Also, Zorro was supposed to be a one-time character, but the popularity of this film led McCulley to write more Zorro stories. And, of course, character became popular in film and later TV.

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