(Note, ahead there are some spoilers for Joker.)
Near the end of Joker – amidst riots and looting and violence after Joker committed murder on national television, we see the Wayne family (Thomas, Martha, and young Bruce) exiting their local movie theater. On the marquee it shows that two movies are playing on this particular night, Brian De Palma’s Blow Out – which has gone on to be considered a classic, and Zorro, The Gay Blade, a Zorro movie starring George Hamilton, which has gone on to be mostly forgotten and is certainly not a “classic.”
It’s true, both of these movies came out around the same time during July of 1981, but neither turned out to be a big hit. (The big hit at the time was Dudley Moore in Arthur, but since Joker’s name in this movie is also Arthur, maybe that was a bit too on the nose. Then again, it’s kind of remarkable Arthur wasn’t used.) A year later, both Blow Out and Zorro, The Gay Blade would become staples on premium television, shown in an almost never-ending loop. So, yes, I remember as a seven-year-old watching Blow Out because it had the funny guy from the Welcome Back Kotter reruns. And I remember watching Zorro, The Gay Blade numerous times because, well, it was on. I’ve seen Blow Out a few times since. I had not seen Zorro, The Gay Blade in a very long time until this piece.
So there’s no definitive proof which movie the Wayne family had just seen when they exited the theater. But since Thomas and Martha had their young son with them, chances are they went to the more family-friendly Zorro, The Gay Blade. Now, when we put it into perspective that, in the world of Joker, this was the last movie Thomas and Martha would ever see, do we think they liked it?
Not surprisingly, Zorro, The Gay Blade isn’t the easiest thing to find these days. It’s not even on iTunes. The only two options I could find were ordering a DVD on Amazon, which I did before realizing the whole movie is available on YouTube. (I always wonder how this happens, where whole movies are just hanging out on YouTube, considering it’s fairly easy to get things taken down off YouTube. Do the rights holders just decide, “Well, this movie stinks, so screw it. If someone wants to watch it, I guess that’s fine”? Or is it more that no one at Fox/Disney is saying, “Say, we should do a search for Zorro, The Gay Blade today just to make sure it’s not on YouTube. Hey, look at that, there it is”?)
Anyway, yes, I watched Zorro, The Gay Blade. First of all, it stars George Hamilton as Zorro, which in of itself is … weird. (It’s also weird to think of George Hamilton, who we mostly associate as being the guy with the tan who does hammy cameos, playing Zorro and a pivotal role in a Godfather movie within a few years of each other.) Hamilton plays Don Diego Vega, the son of Zorro, who inherits the costume from his father. And, yes, Hamilton’s accent is as cringe-worthy as you might expect, often playing it for laughs – as in a scene where Lauren Hutton thinks he’s saying “sheep,” when in reality he’s saying “ship.” So, yes, you get the gist I think.
The villain in this movie, Captain Esteban (Ron Leibman, also doing, let’s say, quite an accent), starts to suspect Don Diego Vega is Zorro, so Don Diego Vega recruits his gay brother, Ramón Vega (who now goes by Bunny Wigglesworth; I realize it’s starting to sound like I’m making stuff up but I am not), to also be Zorro in an effort throw off Captain Esteban’s suspicions. This may not surprise you, but George Hamilton also plays Ramón Vega. And Ramón’s version of Zorro is, well … let’s just say George Hamilton is certainly going for something here.
I’m just going to say this: After watching Zorro, The Gay Blade I can certainly understand why it’s not a very easy movie to find these days. And I’m sure the people in this movie are thrilled that Joker brought it back into the limelight a bit.
So, let’s get back to the Wayne family. Now, having rewatched Zorro, The Gay Blade, it’s actually pretty depressing this is the last movie two fictional people watched before being murdered. (Though, it’s not lost on me that if I somehow die today, now Zorro, The Gay Blade will also be my last movie. The Joker strikes again!) But the way Thomas Wayne is depicted in the movie, he’s kind of a dick. So, yes, I can kind of see him enjoying George Hamilton hamming his way through that movie while delivering “funny” accents. Joker doesn’t let us spend hardly any time with Martha Wayne, so who knows? But, yes, I’m going to assume Thomas Wayne loved Zorro, The Gay Blade and, years later, Bruce Wayne finally watched Blow Out and cursed his father for their last movie together being a movie where George Hamilton plays two Zorros.
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