Following the precedent set with the successful theatrical release of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, Disney released two films comprised of segments from the Zorro series.
The Sign of Zorro
This theatrical release was taken from the first thirteen episodes, which pit the masked avenger against Capitan Monastario, the corrupt military governor who schemes to make Southern California his own. Returning home from his studies in Spain, Don Diego de la Vega realizes he cannot hope to defeat Monastario by force, and thus adopts the persona of Zorro, a mysterious force for good. Despite Monastario's growing suspicions about the seemingly ineffectual Don Diego, Zorro eventually succeeds in toppling the corrupt officer.
The film was first released overseas in 1958 and domestically in 1960. Two versions of the film exist. The original version's running time is 1 hour 29 minutes; a shorter version running 40 minutes was later released. The longer version is the one that has been released on video.
The first release of the film on tape was on October 15, 1981 in the white "clamshell" cases used for the rest of Disney's video releases at that time. It was released in both the Betamax (catalog 47BS) and VHS (catalog 47VS) formats. The film was later re-released on VHS with a slipcase cover (catalog VHS 047).
To date The Sign of Zorro has not been released on DVD or on Blu-Ray, but it is available for streaming through several vendors.
Zorro the Avenger
Released overseas in 1959, the second compilation film includes segments from the end of the "Eagle" stories from the first season. The villainous Eagle announces his plans to conquer Southern California, and moves his operation into the de la Vega hacienda. A battle of wits and eventually swords follows between the Eagle and Zorro, who seems to be the only thing standing between the would-be dictator and freedom.
The running time of this film is 1 hour 31 minutes. It has not been released on video but has been shown on The Disney Channel.
Zorro episodes on home video
In addition to the video release of The Sign of Zorro, Disney has released six tapes based on the television series. The tapes have been released on Betamax and at least twice on VHS, thus leading to two different versions of the cover art. The two different types can be seen below. Each is described below, listing the episodes used and featuring the description from the VHS.
Volume 1 - The Secret of El Zorro
ISBN 1-55890-341-0 Disney catalog VHS 338
Contains the episodes: The Practical Joker
The Flaming Arrow
Zorro Fights a Duel
Amnesty for Zorro
Don Diego finds himself trapped in an ironic turn of events when a visiting friend, Ricardo del Amo (Richard Anderson), challenges the famed swordsman Zorro to a duel for the hand of a lovely visitor, Anna Maria. Don Diego manages to outwit the love-stuck braggart - but only temporarily. A new challenge from the determined Ricardo dramatically sets the stage for a public unmasking of the legendary hero... and under circumstances that Zorro cannot afford to ignore!
Volume 2 - Zorro and the Mountain Man
ISBN 1-55890-339-9 Disney catalog VHS 339
Contains the episodes: Zorro and the Mountain Man
The Hound of the Sierras
A genial mountain man, Joe Crane (Jeff York), finds himself in a mountain of trouble after a barroom brawl with an arrogant aristocrat, Don Carlos Fernandez (Jonathan Harris). Infuriated at being bested, Don Carlos vows to kill the hapless victor. When bystander Don Diego cannot prevent the scheming Don Carlos from carrying out his deadly game, it looks as if only the skill and strength of Zorro can save Joe from the murderous clutches of the vengeful aristocrat and his henchmen!
VVolume 3 - The Mystery of Don Cabrillo
ISBN 1-55890-340-2 Disney catalog VHS 340
Contains the episodes: The Missing Father
Please Believe Me
Mystery surrounds pretty Anita Cabrillo (Annette Funicello), who arrives from Spain for a reunion with her father at his lavish hacienda - only to discover that neither the ranch nor her beloved father seem to exist. Several subsequent death threats culminate in a terrifying brush with death as Don Diego, disguised as the masked her Zorro, attempts to unravel the puzzling secret behind Anita's missing father.
Volume 4 - Invitation to Death
ISBN 1-55890-362-3 Disney catalog VHS 362
Contains the episodes: Invitation to Death
The Captain Regrets
Masquerade for Murder
Long Live the Governor
The Governor of Alta California, traveling towards Los Angeles, is attacked and nearly murdered by a band of thugs known as the Rebatos. Don Diego, disguised as the masked hero Zorro, eventually uncovers some disquieting information; the mastermind behind the murderous may be the Governor's own aide! Can Zorro expose the real criminals before they succeed with their deadly plans? Find out in this thrilling Zorro adventure.
Volume 5 - The Gay Caballero
ISBN 1-55890-173-6 Disney catalog VHS 363
Contains the episodes: The Gay Caballero
Tornado is Missing
Zorro Versus Cupid
The Legend of Zorro
Shady shenanigans abound when a suave, sophisticated charmer, Estevan de la Cruz (Cesar Romero), pays a surprise visit to the village... and launches a program of underhanded schemes on the unsuspecting citizenry. However, when Estevan sets his sights on a wealthy señorita (and her family's fortune), Zorro decides to intervene... and subsequently faces the wrath of the irate, sly con artist.
Volume 6 - The Man from Spain
ISBN 1-55890-175-2 Disney catalog VHS 364
Contains the episodes: The Man from Spain
Treasure for the King
Exposing a Tyrant
Zorro Takes a Dare
The stern and imposing Andres Basilio (Everett Sloane), the king's emissary from Spain, announces the reason for his visit; an elaborate money-raising program utilizing so-called Royal Bonds. And a tough-looking enforcer is present to ensure that the dons and businessmen comply with Basilio's demands. Don Diego, sensing an alternate destination for the money, decides that Zorro is desperately needed to investigate the legitimacy of the financial program.
The 8mm films
Back in the days before home video, Disney released a number of 8mm film versions of Zorro. While my own copies are in Super 8 and are silent, they may have also been released in Regular 8 and Sound versions. So far I have found two films, The Imposter and Unmasked. I'll add more information on the 8mm releases as it becomes available.
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