Zorro, The Gay Blade


This blog is my entry to The Costume Drama Blogathon, which is being hosted by Debbie at Moon In Gemini.  The rest of the entries can be found here:



Debbie uses the term “drama” loosely and said it was fine to write about musicals or comedies, which is what I am focusing on today.  The movie had to take place 1920 or prior and could take place anywhere in the world.

I am writing about one of my favorite silly comedies – Zorro, The Gay Blade starring George Hamilton.


This is one of those movies that many people are just unfamiliar with.  This is a shame.  I saw this movie when it first came out in 1981 and my brother and I have been quoting it ever since.  It is not odd for a phone conversation with my brother to begin with a quote from this movie.

The film’s opening dedication states: “This film is dedicated to Rouben Mamoulian and the other great filmmakers whose past gives us our future”. The movie opens with a black-and-white clip from 1940’s The Mark of Zorro which Mamoulian directed.

The opening narration (done by the great Frank Welker) sets the tone for the film:

“In the late part of the 18th century, the peasants of California were oppressed by tyrannical land owners. To protect the poor and downtrodden people, there emerged a mysterious swordsman who pledged his life in the service of justice. To the people, he was a great hero who would live forever in their hearts. To the landowners, however, he was a real pain in the ass. He was known only as… Zorro!”


The Cast/Characters

George Hamilton is just perfect in this film.  He plays a dual role, which in reality, is like 4 roles.  He plays the suave and sexy Don Diego de la Vega (1), who is also Zorro (2).  He also plays his homosexual brother Ramon de la Vega – AKA Bunny Wigglesworth (3), who is also Zorro, the Gay Blade (4).  He plays Don Diego with a slightly exaggerated Spanish accent, while Ramon/Bunny is played with a British/English accent.  Hamilton does a great job of playing these as two very distinct characters.  Not only do the accents of the two differ, but the body language in which the characters are played are very different.  You really almost feel that two actors are playing the roles. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in the film.


Ron Leibman plays the evil alcalde, Esteban.  He not only uses his actions to make his character convincing, but he also has a great command of his voice.  He often yells, like a power hunger mad-man, but when needed, he can speak in a mellow, soft tone.  He also plays a variety of emotions – and conveys the anger of the character in such a way that you feel his frustrations.  He’s really quite a jerk in the film, and he is the butt of many of the jokes, and the perfect foil for the hero, Zorro.


Brenda Vaccaro is Florinda, Esteban’s wife.  We learn almost immediately that she was the woman that both Don Diego and Esteban wooed as young men.  Unlike Hamilton and Leibman, who play their roles with heavy Spanish accents, Vaccaro doesn’t speak with one.  Her raspy, almost manly voice only adds to her character.  She craves sex, is unhappily married, spoiled, childish, and annoying.  She also gets many of the movies funny lines.

Lauren Hutton is Charlotte Taylor Wilson.  She is a political activist who is there to encourage citizens to fight their independence.  She is a thorn in the alcalde’s side and is the love interest of Don Diego.


Donovan Scott (Popeye, Police Academy, and 1941) plays Don Diego’s mute servant Paco.  Though he never speaks in the film, he conveys exactly what needs to be conveyed with his facial expressions.  He has wonderful chemistry with Hamilton.


What I Love About This Film

I have heard many compare this film to The Princess Bride.  I think that is a fairly good comparison.  The humor of both films is very similar.  I think Zorro has a lot more “under the breath” one liners, and is a bit less of a love story.  Both films have that sense of adventure, but I think there’s more in Zorro.  Both have swordplay, but again, there’s more in Zorro.

Here is the trailer:

The Plot 

Don Diego is summoned home by his father.  He arrives to find that he has passed away and his childhood friend, Esteban is acting in his place as alcalde.  His father’s servant brings a huge casket which contains a black hat, sword, black cape, and letter from his father, which reads:

“My Dear Son.  I do not call you by name because I do not know which of you two brothers will be the one to read this, but whoever does inherits the greatest gifts that I possess.  This sword with which to fight injustice; this mask with which to deceive tyranny, and this hat which needs reblocking.  Where them with honor, for in time of need it is the destiny of the Vega men to become Zorro.”

In his first outing as Zorro, he injures his foot and can no longer “fight injustice”.  The alcalde’s reign of terror on the people goes on for weeks and Diego is unable to help them.  It is then, that Diego’s gay brother Ramon returns home (presumably after also receiving a letter from his father).  Diego recruits Ramon, a British Navy man who now goes by the name Bunny Wigglesworth, to become Zorro in his place. It takes some convincing, and after being allowed to make Zorro “his own”, Ramon agrees, using a whip instead of a sword, and changing the costumes a bit.

Finding his “voice” as Zorro makes for a funny scene – I love how his face is half made up.


The change in Zorro does not go unnoticed.  In one of my favorite scenes, the alcalde notices that Diego looks like Zorro and gets him to “act” like him ….

The film becomes even more absurd and hilarious once Diego’s flamboyant and fashion-conscious brother takes over the role of our hero, Zorro!  Can they bring the alcalde to justice?  Will Diego woo Charlotte Taylor Wilson?


(Spoiler: They do and yes – with many laughs along the way!)


Zorro was far from a “hit” at the box office.  I think it only made like $5 million.  The fact that it wasn’t a hit, doesn’t prevent it from being one of my favorites.  As I think about the list of my favorite films, there are plenty of them that didn’t “perform” at the box office – this is one of them.  It is one of those films that I had to watch twice to catch all of the little “under the breath” jokes, and continue to watch (and quote) when I need a good laugh.


Is this the best comedy you will ever see?  Probably not.  It is, however, a fun and adventurous romp with a familiar hero.  It’s one of those films that is difficult to find in the store to buy or rent … It is available at this link on YouTube:


“Remember, my peoples. There is no shame in being poor! Only in dressing poorly!” – Bunny Wigglesworth/Zorro, the Gay Blade




Guest Blogger: My Baby Brother


A week or so ago, I posted a blog stating that I was toying with the idea of inviting someone to be a guest blogger.  Without hesitation, my younger brother Christopher said he would love to write one.  Let me say that he is WAY more qualified to write than I am.  He has published a book and has been writing short stories and other things for as long as I can remember. 

I saw his email this morning as I was getting ready to take the boys home.  I had to open it and read it.  I stood in my kitchen laughing as I read it.  My wife was still asleep, and I thought for sure that I was going to wake her up.  My son, looked at me and asked “what’s so funny, dad?”  I looked at him and said, “Just something Uncle Chris sent me…”

At this time, I’d like to introduce you to my brother, Christopher. I hope that you laugh as much as I did….

What the heck are they laughing at?  By Christopher Louis

Growing up my brother and I were crazy and rambunctious kids.  There is no denying that we gave our parents a run for their money.  If we weren’t pushing their patience by staying up long past our bed time or begging them to buy us the newest Star Wars figure, we were beating the snot out of each other or purposely egging the other on to do something totally stupid.  While we were not angels, we also weren’t devils.  We just loved to have fun, laugh, and have a good time.  We wanted to make each day an adventure.  Sure, it got us in trouble sometimes, but it was almost always good natured.


As with any siblings there are lots of growing pains as you discover new interests, new friends, and truly come into your own and the relationship between you and your sibling changes. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes not so good. Despite our many differences, there has always been one thing that could bring us together – laughter. Laughter has helped us to remember and rebuild our bonds. When friends ask about my brother, I love to share how we can have the other laughing within seconds simply by sending a photo (usually of William Shatner), copying a movie quote (Airplane is always a good bet) or sharing an inside family joke (usually something our dear Grandpa mispronounced).

I admit there was a time when I swore I had to be adopted because I could not understand the joy that Keith, my dad, and my grandparents found in watching Sanford and Son.  However, the same could be said for him in my guilty pleasure of watching Dynasty.  While I am sure neither of us would relish the idea of sitting down and watching either of those shows together, there are still so many movies, TV shows, and old radio shows that provide us with so much laughter and delight.  I thought I would share a few of them with you now.

Your Money or Your Life!

Mugger: Your money or your life.

(Long, awkward pause)

Mugger: Look bud, I said your money or your life.

Jack: I’m thinking it over!


The first to share is one of the greatest comedians of all time – Jack Benny.  I am forever thankful for my dad introducing us to the joys of old radio shows.  While we both love many others (Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, or Suspense), The Jack Benny Program is our favorite.  Whether Jack is giving sales clerk (Mel Blanc) the worst time possible by constantly exchanging show laces (he can’t decide between plastic tips or metal tips), or constantly insisting he’s 39 years old (which can’t be confirmed because there is a hole in his birth certificate from erasing it too many times) it is comedy gold.  Plus, both of us can totally tell you what LSMFT means or what the six delicious flavors of Jell-O were.  (For those not in the know, those are both from sponsors of the Jack Benny Program – Lucky Strike Cigarettes and Jell-O).

(Keith Note:  Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco!  Strawberry, cherry, raspberry, orange, lemon, and lime!)

“Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”


The 60’s Batman TV show is a treasure trove of comedy genius.  Adam West’s portrayal of the Dark Knight is played so straight and even that it is impossible to not start laughing at the utter absurdity!  Don’t get me wrong – I love it, but it is odd to think how anyone couldn’t see that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one and the same.

(Keith Note:  I pointed out to my brother how he hits the nail on the head here!  It really is absurd!  Proof of the absurdity – and how Commissioner Gordon must be clueless – can be seen as Adam West has a conversation with himself as both Bruce and Batman in the following video clip!)

Of course, the many guest stars paraded through as villains brought much of the laughter.  There was Cesar Romero as the Joker with white paint over his mustache, Frank Gorshin jumping all over the set as the Riddler, Victor Buono running around as King Tut, and Vincent Price as Egghead making more egg puns that you can imagine. Of course, part of the fun is trying to count how many times Robin says “Holy ____” in an episode.  My favorite will always be “Holy Hole-in-a-Doughnut, Batman!”


(Keith Note: Oh, and I had to add the above picture because of the sub-title of this section!)

“What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz?  Chicken?”

spaceballs small

There are truly so many wonderful Mel Brooks movies and while I am not as into Blazing Saddles as Keith is, we can’t deny the laughter that comes from watching his films. I’m choosing Spaceballs for this blog. Plus – what’s not to love about this amazing spoof of Star Wars, a movie Keith and I both loved and played and recreated more times than I could count with many, many action figures.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • No sir, I didn’t see you playing with your dolls again.
  • How many Assholes we got on this ship, anyhow?
  • Keep firing Assholes!
  • We ain’t found shit!
  • Why are you always preparing? You’re always preparing. Just go!
  • Smoke if you got ‘em.
  • So the combination is 1-2-3-4-5. That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage.

(Keith Note: Love the bumper sticker – “We Brake for Nobody!”)

“Kiddie Car, June Bride, Rookie, Phantom Fox, Blarney Stone, and Clunker”

AKA – The North Avenue Irregulars.  We loved this movie!  It was one of those great Disney gens of the 1970’s that we found and just loved as kids.  I remember how excited we were watching our dad record our own copy of the movie from one VCR to the other.  I also remember the exact spot where it cut out for a moment.  Oh, those good old days of VHS tapes…


Anyway, who would think that kids would love a movie about a group of church ladies who work to take down an illegal gambling ring? But we did! It had so many big stars of the era; Edward Herrmann, Barbara Harris, Karen Valentine, Cloris Leachman, Michael Constantine, Ruth Buzzi, and Dena Dietrich (famous for playing Mother Nature in Chiffon Margarine commercials).  Each character was different and came with their own burdens and personal issues but came together to bring down the bad guys. As with many 70s movie, it includes its own car chase / demolition derby.


One of my favorite scenes includes three of the ladies “going undercover” to place a bet and they are all wearing trench coats and sunglasses.  One has a tape recorder hidden inside her coat and just as she is about to place her bet, she is advised to start recording.  She accidentally presses “play” instead of “record” and the song “Roll Out the Barrel” starts blaring from her coat.


(Keith Note:  My Favorite quotes:  “It’s her money.  Get two” and “Butt out, lady!”)

“Help!  Help!  The Alcalde has all my money!”


George Hamilton playing dual roles!  Enough said!

Zorro the Gay Blade is one of those movies that just makes me smile and laugh. While George is hilarious as Don Diego and his twin brother Ramon (aka Bunny Wigglesworth), Brenda Vaccaro and Ron Leibman as Florinda and Esteban are so over the top and crazy you can’t wait for them to come back on the screen.


Some of my favorite lines:

  • You naughty, evil Alcalde! I’m going to do . . . such . . . terrible things . . . to you!
  • Two bits, four bits, six bits, a peso. All for Zorro, stand up and say so!
  • Thank goodness for small favors!
  • Know me? Sink me! We were once womb-mates!
  • There is no shame in being poor! Only in dressing poorly!

(Keith note:  It’s funny that Chris mentions this movie.  Look for a full write up on it from me in early September for the “Costume Drama Blogathon”!)

“Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home …”


Airplane! One of the great comedies of the 1980s. There is something about spoofs that if not done correctly are painful to watch. This is not one of them. I think Keith and I have quoted this movie since our first viewing and haven’t stopped yet. There are just so many great lines that I could do an entire post on this movie alone!

Some of my favorite lines:

  • It’s a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows, wheels. It looks like a big Tylenol.
  • Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
  • Surely you can’t be serious? I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.
  • Joey, do you like movies about Gladiators?
  • A hospital, what is it? It’s a big building with patients in it, but that’s not important right now.
  • Get me someone who won’t crack under pressure. How about Mr. Rogers?
  • I haven’t felt this bad since I saw that Ronald Reagan movie.

There are many, many more movies and TV shows I could have included here, but I decided to focus on just a few for now, but as I near my wrap up, how can I not share the one photo that I think we’ve shared back and forth more times than I can possibly imagine? I mean, I even mentioned the person’s name at the beginning of this blog. Without further ado, I present the one image guaranteed to make both of us laugh.


You can totally hear him right now, can’t you??  The king of the dramatic pause – William Shatner.  There are no more words necessary – this image is all you need.

(Keith Note:  Ricardo Montalban should have won an Academy Award for his performance in this film.  He is brilliant!  My brother once got me a Khan figure to put on my desk for Christmas!)


Laughter.  It has been a delight revisiting these few memories as they have helped spur so many more that could fill numerous more blog posts.  Thank you for joining me on this guest post, I hope it brought you some laughter as well. I will end with one final image that encompasses a big part of our childhood: Keith and me playing with our Star Wars figures.  The fun and adventures we created beyond the films!


(Keith Note:  My brother could not have picked a more awful picture of me – ok, maybe he could have.  What makes me laugh about this picture is that he has Star Wars figures, and I have that Fisher Price motorcycle dude (who we called “Ginge”)!  I am also appalled that I am wearing black socks in this picture!  The picture, however, is a wonderful time capsule, though.  Besides the toys of the 70’s and 80’s, you will notice ugly shag carpeting, HUGE books called phone books (where we used to look up phone numbers), a stack of newspapers (where we got news before the internet), and one of the first video game systems – the Atari 2600!

It’s always fun to see what others remember and what you forgot.  The North Avenue Irregulars was something I had forgot about!  I am so glad he mentioned it.  In speaking to my brother after reading this, he stated that writing this blog for me, brought about many other things that he “could have” wrote about.  I am encouraging him to keep notes on those things and return for another “guest” spot.  Thanks, Chris!  I love you!)