Sunday, February 28, 2016

Zorro 2.16 - The Gay Caballero

Plot: Once again, we open on Garcia and Reyes singing in the tavern, this time about how wine is the soldier's best friend. Then they are forced to perform their duties when the stage arrives, carrying one passenger with a lot of luggage, an Estevan de la Cruz (played by Cesar Romero). Estevan immediately makes himself a figure of interest, both by offering to by drinks for all the taverns' patrons, and by grudgingly showing Sergeant Garcia that he's carrying a small sack of jewels. Then he really gets Garcia's attention by stating he wants to stay in the de la Vega hacienda while he's in town, and he plans to simply take it over. He settles in comfortably, and while Garcia and Reyes dread the moment Alejandro returns and finds out, it turns out OK. Because Estevan is Alejandro's brother-in-law.

That night, at a party Estevan has cajoled Alejandro into throwing to welcome him, Estevan is quite busy trying to convince the wealthy landowners to purchase the jewels he brought. Or rather, he's showing them the jewels, then feigning as though he does not wish to sell them. Alejandro fears they're fakes, and that it would ruin the de la Vega name if Estevan succeeds, so he and Diego send Bernardo to swipe them. Only to find Estevan is even more nimble-fingered and stole them back. And now he's suspicious of Bernardo, though not of Diego or Alejandro. So, new plan: Have Zorro steal the jewels. Problem: there were two suspicious fellows at the party who saw the jewels as well, and they ambush Estevan and take the pouch first. Zorro finds Estevan unconscious, but that doesn't last, and soon the whole hacienda knows Zorro is on the premises. Which leads to him trying to keep the true thieves from departing, but having difficulty with both Garcia and Estevan. Eventually, though, Zorro is able to capture the thieves, swipe the jewels, and escape. Estevan takes it well, since he knows the jewels are fake, but also decides he likes it here and wants to stay a while.

Quote of the Episode: Corporal Reyes - 'Si. People can't help it if they have relatives.'

Times Zorro Marks a "Z": 1 (7 overall). On the coat of one of the thieves, with his whip, no less. Clearly he's gotten bored of leaving his mark with a sword.

Other: They dispensed with the theme song entirely this week. Just a few clips from the episode they were about to show, and then an announcer telling what show it was, and that it starred Guy Williams and Romero. I don't approve. I like that opening song.

The show only periodically uses Bernardo's skill as a pickpocket, but it does come up often enough that having him be outdone by Estevan tells us a bit about the man. That he's alert to that sort of thing, and can counter it, even while continuing his sales pitch to Don Marcos. Although the fact he's willing to let Marcos bid against himself for a fake diamond as a gift to his daughter, with no apparent compunctions, says a lot more about Estevan.

I'm a little surprised at Alejandro. I know it's necessary for him to be unwilling to confront Estevan directly, so that first Bernardo and later Zorro can take their turns. But it seems out of character for Alejandro not to speak his mind. Though again, the fact Alejandro is so afraid of Estevan's ability with words that it makes him hold back, says much about the guy's capabilities.

When they sent Bernardo off to swipe the pouch, He cracked his knuckles to show he was ready, then wagged his fingers at the pain. It made me think of that Simpsons joke about Bart's bones being brittle, despite his drinking plenty of malk.

So, just as with last season, the de la Vega's have another pushy houseguest. But Estevan might be even worse than the Eagle, both because he's not so evil they can justify running him through, and well, he's family. PLus, it might just be better to keep him close by, where they can keep an eye on him.


Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that Estevan and Zorro are never shown together in the scene where Estevan tries to lazo Zorro? Looking carefully at the scene, it's obvious they moved back and forth between two shots filmed in different locations, otherwise Estevan's balcony would be over the roof. The shots involving Zorro are clearly filmed at the Torres hacienda/inn location.

As for the discussion we had about "The Sign of Zorro", you didn't answer my last message where I asked you if you can reupload it on YouTube or some other website for people outside USA, since the video can only be seen in the States. Of course I know you can say that you don't want trouble with copyright or don't have the time or don't know how to do that etc., ad it would be perfectly understandable, but as I often say asking doesn't cost anything, so it's better if I don't leave anything untried about that film I have been trying to watch for a while.

CalvinPitt said...

That's a good catch, and a bit odd. Doesn't seem like the sort of thing that should have required that type of trickery. But rewatching these episodes, I've been a little disappointed at how often I'm pretty sure it isn't Guy Williams on Tornado or swordfighting. I don't want him to get hurt, but I guess I figured he did a lot of that stuff himself.

Sorry about not responding to your last comment. I had forgotten to check back in on the post after my last comment. AS for uploading, well, I actually don't know how to upload videos to Youtube, having never had the reason to try before.

Anonymous said...

"Doesn't seem like the sort of thing that should have required that type of trickery": actually, I think it was required, sort of. They needed Zorro to be on some kind of platform so that he could perform the stunt with the rope and landing on the saddle of one of the bandit's horses, and they needed Estevan's balcony to be over Zorro, so that he could try lazoing the masked hero. They couldn't show Estevan being over the roof for no reason, nor could they show Zorro on the ground while he tried to free himself, and I guess they had no other location that fit the scene they had in mind (and the clever editing helped hiding that).

This reminds me that, according to this web page

"While only a small portion of the de la Vega hacienda was actually constructed, the effects were so well done that many fans believed a full-size house was used"

I wish there were some behind the scenes/deleted scenes that showed more about the various locations, but I guess it would be asking too much since we are taliking about a series from the 1950's. Still, the fact that the Zorro set was not destroyed until about 1990 makes me wonder if there could be some footage of it, especially since part of the set may have been reused in other movies (including 1983's "Zorro and Son"?) Anyway, the whole scene of Zorro vs the bandits was clearly filmed at the back of the inn, not only the part where Zorro is lazoed. There are other strange things in this episode, like Zorro going downstairs in the secret passage after changing his clothes in the secret room behind his bedroom, despite the fact that the guest room is next to Diego's bedroom. Or like the bandits easily escaping on the window, without being shown to use a rope, even though the balcony it should be pretty high if the guest room is next to Diego's bedroom (see the end pf episode 2 for the height of Diego's balcony). Or like the window of the gust room not looking like it has a balcony at all. Or like that small corridor supposedly connecting Diego's room and the guest room.

Guy Williams did a lot of swordfighting and riding, but things like jumping onto the back of his horse or having Tornado rear were done by stuntman Buddy Van Horn. It makes sense: some things are near impossible to do for anyone who is not a stuntman, while other things could have been done by Williams but were not done by him for various reason, like preventing injuries (you can't afford serious injuries in a weekly tv series) or to save time by filming several scenes at once (the stock footage also helps that). Tornado was played by horse champion Diamond Decorator, who was 7 at the beginning of the series, but he also had three stunthorses for rearing, fighting, and running very fast. Diamond Decorator was also used in Guy Williams' appearences as Zorro at the Disneyland park, some footage of which can be found on YouTube.

"I actually don't know how to upload videos to Youtube": if you have a YouTube channel, there is the "upload" button, but if you haven't done it before I guess it would be too much to expect you to learn the uploading methods just for a single video which you can already watch. Well, like I said, asking it didn't cost me anything. Waiting for your next review next Sunday, CalvinPitt.

CalvinPitt said...

That's a lot of outstanding information and thank you for sharing that. And there was definitely no harm in asking.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I was useful.

By the way, I just re-read this part of your message: "But rewatching these episodes, I've been a little disappointed at how often I'm pretty sure it isn't Guy Williams on Tornado or swordfighting". Maybe you are interested in knowing this: according to the autobiography of Britt Lomond (the actor who played Monastario), the battle on the scaffolding betweeen Zorro and Monastario at the end of episode 6 was filmed without stuntmen, and it was filmed three times. Re-watching it while knowing it makes it much more intense. This is what Lomond wrote:

"I do not really know what happened between Guy and I, but we both looked at each other and, without saying a word, we climbed on the scaffolding and took up our positions on the flimsy boards. I yelled down to the cameraman, Gordon Avil, to rol his three cameras that had been setup to film the sequence on the second story level of the church scaffolding. He did. With a shrug from the puzzled director, and the call "Action!" Guy and I started fencing without another word from anyone.

We did the fencing routine perfectly the first time, and while the cameras were still rolling, we repeated the routine for a second time (the old "Safety Copy"). The studio had enough footage to cut and edit the sequence to everyone's satisfaction.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult fencing routines I have ever done. Trying to remember each movement of the routine was not the real difficulty, although we had only a few minutes to memorize it. The footing beneath us was the real problem.

Those planks were not stable, so if you watch our routine carefully, you will see both Guy and I slip several times as we fenced. We were attempting to keep our footing on those rough construction boards that kept sliding underneath our feet on the platform as we slashed and cut at each other to make the fencing routine look real and dangerous. The funny part is, it was dangerous, damn dangerous, although the audience never knew the reality of the situation.

When Guy and I had finished doing the routine twice, the camera operator, Travil Hill, climbed on the scaffolding with a camera on his shoulder and we repeated the routine while he shot close-ups on Guy and myself. Let me tell you, Travil was not too thrilled about doing that close-up camera work up there on that scaffolding, either.

The whole sequence was over in less than forty minutes. I could not believe we had done everything required of us in less than an hour! To be truthful, neither could anyone else on the set, including the director.

Just remember when you see those shots of us on the scaffolding: there are no doubles; Guy and I did everything up there ourselves, the entire fencing routine on those skinny, slippery boards of the upper scaffolding."