Mini Movie Reviews: The Man With One Red Shoe and Zorro, the Gay Blade

The Man With One Red Shoe (DVD)
The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)

Starring Tom Hanks, Dabney Coleman, Lori Singer, Charles Durning, Carrie Fisher, James Belushi, Tom Noonan and Richard Rich, Sr.

Directed by Stan Dragoti

Tom Hanks has been nominated for five “Best Actor” Academy Awards, and he has taken home the statue twice. Alas none of the nominations were for The Man With One Red Shoe. In 1985, it was William Hurt who won Best Actor, for Kiss of the Spider Woman. Who even remembers that movie? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kiss of the Spider Woman, but I do know this: it has nothing to do with Jessica Drew. I’ve got two words for that: false advertising.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m digressing. The Man With One Red Shoe may not be worthy of consideration for an Academy Award, and it’s a little dated, but it’s still a pretty darn funny movie. That’s what Tom Hanks did back in the 1980’s: he made pretty darn funny movies. This one happens to feature a very good cast of characters ((Charles Durning doesn’t always do comedy, but he does it quite well. It’s like he can throw a switch and just instantly be funny (see Spy Hard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?).)), a rather interesting take on domestic spying, and Lori Singer in one very, very low-backed gown. ((Not to mention Princess Leia in a leopard-print bikini.))

Zorro, The Gay Blade (DVD)
Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981)

Starring George Hamilton, Lauren Hutton, Brenda Vaccaro, Ron Liebman, Donovan Scott and the original Emperor Palpatine.

Directed by Peter Medak

Pregnant Laura (sold separately) will watch pretty much anything these days. At PregCon 9, she seems quite content to just sit on the couch and rest her weary feet. If whatever is on television doesn’t appeal to her, she’s also quite content to simply fall asleep or read a book (something I can’t do with the television on in the same room).

So, Laura didn’t raise a protest when I suggested that we watch Zorro, The Gay Blade ((Both The Man With One Red Shoe and Zorro, The Gay Blade were shown on Fox Movie Channel. They may not show the newest or the best movies, but they’re all uncut and commercial free, so I’m not complaining. I mean, HBO was showing Garfield: The Movie, for crying out loud.)) last night, but I don’t believe she fell asleep, and that’s generally a sign that she’s being entertained. Either that, or my young apprentice was restless and she couldn’t fall asleep.

Whatever the case, I was fairly amused by Zorro, The Gay Blade. It’s one of those movies from the 80’s that I’d just never gotten around to seeing. It’s also one of those George Hamilton movies that I’d never gotten around to seeing. ((The other one is Love at First Bite.)) I like George Hamilton because he always gives me the impression that he’s really having a lot of fun and he never seems to take himself too seriously.

Zorro, The Gay Blade is the story of Don Diego Vega and his brother, Bunny Wigglesworth (formerly Ramon Vega). Don Diego learns that his recently-deceased father was the legendary Zorro, and takes up the sword and mask to fight injustice and the tyrannical new Alcalde, Capt. Esteban. When Don Diego injures his foot, it seems as though the poor citizens of Los Angeles will be ground under Esteban’s bootheel. Enter Bunny Wigglesworth, Don Diego’s flamboyant brother and (with a little makeup) his dead ringer. Bunny shuns the sword in favor of the whip and takes Zorro’s wardrobe far beyond basic black.

As farcical send-ups go, Zorro, The Gay Blade isn’t bad. Even before Bunny arrives, Don Diego makes a pretty amusing Zorro. Hamilton plays (and looks) the part well, and could probably have donned the mask in a serious Zorro feature if he’d wanted to. Of course, once Bunny is on the scene, El Zorro is well and truly skewered. Nonetheless, it is Don Diego himself who remains the prime source of the comedy, playing well against the bombastic Captain Esteban (Ron Leibman). Also quite amusing is Donovan Scott as Don Diego’s mute valet, Paco.

High-brow, sophisticated and refined it ain’t, but Zorro, The Gay Blade is certainly an amusing diversion on a quiet Monday night.