ZORRO, THE GAY BLADE -- At the AMC Skyline, Crofton Cinema, Jenifer Cinema, Jerry Lewis Cinema, NTI New Carrollton, Roth's Seven Locks, Roth's Parkway, Roth's Tysons Corner, Showcase Fair City and Springfield Mall.
It is the year 50 AZ (after Zorro) and the legacy has passed from father to sons. Not everyone remembers the sign of the "Z": Slashed into a peon's door it is mistaken for a "2." And an awed adversary describes their encounter: "He said his name was . . . Zero!"
George Hamilton fans, if they exist, will take pleasure in this showcase of his talents. "Zorro, the Gay Blade," is co-produced by Hamilton, who also plays Zorro and his twin brother.
For others, the movie will be little more than a masked ball starring the costumes. Lauren Hutton's technicolor gowns are upstaged only by the clothes worn by Zorro's twin, identical except for sexual preference. Substituting for his ailing straight brother, he snaps a whip instead of a sword when signing his "Z." In every scene he enters, the clothes have it: the plum colored plumage in one, the gold lame cape in another, the fringed gaucho hat in deep blue, the orange and rose ensemble.
Two revelatory scenes take place in two costume balls thrown by the sexually frustrated wife of Zorro's corrupt enemy. She, played by Brenda Vaccaro, is a sympathetic, if not downright funny character, whereas he, played by Ron Leibman, needs to have his volume adjusted. His macho persona has one expression: loud.
And when you consider that Zorro is the man behind the mask, it could almost turn into a symbolic layering -- if this weren't supposed to be a slapstick comedy.
Actually, there is a Bergmanesque ponderousness to it, starting with the credits rolling slowly by. What is needed is a good sword-fight. But the swashbuckling doesn't start until the movie is well underway. When it does, the swordfighting is greatly enhanced by music from "The Adventures of Don Juan," which would be stirring played to a blank screen.
Hamilton has one sterling selling point: his smile. With it, he reveals a charming hero's vanity. Tyrone Power's Zorro flew off on his steed oblivious to "Who was that [wonderful]_ masked man?" When crowds begin chanting his name, Hamilton observes with a satisfied, pearly grim, "Now that is a little more like it!" Hutton runs a close second on interesting dentition: she wears her famous model's upper incisors uncapped.
There are a few funny scenes, but this is mainly a movie for costume designers and dentists.