Swashbuckling fun with ‘Zorro’ in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Swashbuckling fun with ‘Zorro’ in Grass Valley

Trina Kleist
Special to Prospector
Walt Strony will be accompanying the film "The Mark of Zorro" with his own original score that borrows musical themes from various Spanish works.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHAT: Silent Movies with Walt Strony presents: “The Mark of Zorro” — A 1920 classic

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley

TICKETS: Free, but donations are accepted. Donations support PEACE’s Organ Fund

INFO: Visit www.PeaceLutheranGV.org for more information

Douglas Fairbanks’ 1920 classic, “The Mark of Zorro,” comes to the screen at 4 p.m. Sunday with live musical accompaniment by nationally renowned organist Walt Strony.

The film defined the action-hero genre and launched Fairbanks’ career in a new direction. It screens for free as part of the Silent Movies with Walt Strony series at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., near downtown Grass Valley.

A free reception will follow.

“This is a fun film,” said Strony. “It’s got humor, romance and some good sword-fighting.”

Strony has accompanied “Zorro” many times at classic film festivals and other venues. It is one of the most popular silent films being shown today, he said.

He will be performing his own original score, which borrows musical themes from various Spanish and Spanish-inspired works such as “Malagueña” and “Andalucia” by Ernesto Lecuona, and “Capriccio Espagnol” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Listeners will hear numerous other familiar themes.

“I do my best to provide musical support so that each character can emote his feelings, since there obviously is no spoken dialogue,” he said.

The effect products an emotional impact akin to a live concert.

“Zorro” includes some amazing chase scenes in which Fairbanks performs his own stunts, Strony said. “These guys were really athletic as well as good actors,” he said.

No offering will be taken. However, donations to the church’s Organ Fund will be gratefully accepted.

Last year, the church launched a campaign to raise money to buy a new combination digital-pipe organ for its sanctuary.

Fairbanks: Action-hero model

“Zorro” features a crusading hero, played by the multi-talented Fairbanks, set against a backdrop of southern California hills during the Spanish mission period. The story depicts a rich dandy who, by night, dons a black mask and cape to fight corrupt local officials.

Fairbanks employed his substantial fencing skills to fine effect, with a healthy dash of the comedy that characterized his earlier film career.

Fairbanks wrote the screenplay based on “The Curse of Capistrano,” a serialized pulp novel that appeared in 1919 by former crime reporter Johnston McCulley.

While McCulley’s history is marred by a key flaw — Mexico had declared independence from Spain by the time of the movie’s setting — “Zorro” remains a seminal action flick portraying the rousing battle of good against evil.

Trina Kleist is a Grass Valley freelance writer whose clients include Nevada Irrigation District. She may be contacted at tkleistwrites@gmail.com or 530-575-6132.

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