Zorro, which is Spanish for "fox", is the story of a masked rider who battles the unjust rulers of the pueblo of Los Angeles during the days of Spanish rule. His real identity is that of Don Diego de la Vega, the son of a wealthy landowner. Diego returns from his studies in Spain and discovers that Los Angeles is under the command of Capitan Monastario, a cruel man who relishes in the misuse of his power for personal gain. Knowing that he cannot hope to single-handedly defeat Monastario and his troops, Diego resorts to subterfuge. He adopts the secret identity of Zorro, a sinister figure dressed in black, and rides to fight Monastario's injustice.
Basilio has begun to enjoy his stay in Los Angeles despite Zorro's interference. He is surprised at how well his war bonds are selling, for the landowners have decided to help support the Spanish government as much as possible. In fact, he and Capitan Mendoza have been able to collect three large chests full of gold. Mendoza suggests that they steal some for themselves before shipping it to Spain, but Basilio has a better idea. He wants it all. The two men construct a delayed action detonator designed to explode when the gold shipment is at sea so that the evidence of their crime will be destroyed. The next day the thieves pack the cases with rocks and load them on a cart that will take them to the ship bound for Spain. Zorro follows the shipment and narrowly saves the driver when the deadly cargo explodes ahead of schedule. Back in the pueblo, Basilio and Mendoza gleefully open the chests expecting to see their stolen gold. Instead, the boxes are full of sand and rocks, with a large "Z" inscribed in each of the lids.Watch Now:Amazon
Don Alejandro remains firm in his wish to send Anita back to Spain and tells the girl to pack her bags. Gonzales arrives to take her to the ship and Anita gives Alejandro a goodbye kiss. She turns to climb aboard the carriage but Alejandro stops her, for Anita is wearing a brooch that he once gave to the mission to be sold at a charity auction. When she tells him her father sent it her in Spain, Alejandro finally believes her story about the missing man. He changes his mind and allows her to stay, then plans to research the sales records to learn who bought the brooch. Meanwhile, Ruiz and his partner, Guerrero, try once again to steal Anita's gold. They tell her to bring it to Castle Rock if she ever wants to see her father again. Anita takes the gold as instructed and is surprised to find Gonzales there, bound and gagged. Gonzales admits to Anita that he is her father and that he sent her to Spain for a good education. He was ashamed to admit his identity to her, for he had lied for years about being prosperous in order to encourage her to succeed. Now it appears they will die together, as Ruiz and Guerrero pull out knives and approach the reunited twosome. Zorro, who has been hiding nearby, steps out of the shadows and stops the killers. The next day, Gonzales and Anita head back to Spain together, happy to be together again at last.
The recovering governor is beginning to become irritated by his confinement to the de la Vega home. At times it seems as if the only thing that can pacify him is a music box. Almost as soon as it begins to play, the governor falls asleep. Knowing that the Rebatos are still trying to kill the governor, Diego uses the box to lull him to sleep then Bernardo moves him to safety. The capitan and five rebellious dons arrive at the hacienda and openly announce their plan to kill the governor. They tie up his daughter, Leonar, then spring into his bedroom ready for the kill. Finding it empty, they split up to search the house. Zorro attacks them one-by-one, until only the capitan remains free. Unable to surprise the traitor, Zorro engages him in a swordfight and kills him, thus ending the threat to the governor. The music box finally winds down and the governor awakens. He looks out the window and sees his would-be killers tied to a wall, where a huge "Z" has been carved to publicly announce who saved him.
The governor of California is attacked during a visit to Los Angeles with his daughter and aide, and barely escapes with his life. Taken to the de la Vega house to recover, he is much too weak to travel for several days. The aide, Capitan Arrellanos, tells Diego he suspects the attack to be the work of the Rebatos, a group that wants to sever ties with the government in Spain. Arrellanos declares himself acting governor until the wounded man recovers and orders an armed guard placed around the house. Several days later a mysterious stranger tells the capitan that if the governor were to die, he would become the true ruler of all California. Arrellanos succumbs to the temptation and orders the guards removed. This makes Diego and Bernardo suspicious, so while Diego dresses as Zorro, Bernardo uses a secret passageway to keep watch over the ailing governor. This precaution proves wise when a stranger sneaks into the room and tries to kill the governor. Bernardo steps out and knocks the attacker unconscious. Zorro takes the governor to another room and puts the would-be killer in the sick man's bed in his place. Two more men try to kill the governor and Zorro fights them both, but one succeeds in plunging a knife into the covered figure on the bed. Not until the next day do the killers learn they have failed to assassinate the governor, and instead killed one of their own.
Two indentured servants who wish to marry find that the law states they must have the permission of their masters. Buena, who works in the de la Vega hacienda, is told she is free to marry, but her boyfriend, Romaldo, is not so fortunate. One of his co-workers also wants to marry Buena so he convinces their boss that Romaldo plans to run away after the ceremony. In fact, Romaldo does run away, but he does so to find Buena so they can elope. Diego helps her convince Romaldo that it would be best to explain to Don Tomas, the other landowner, how he feels, and perhaps change his mind. Don Tomas refuses to listen and orders Romaldo confined to the ranch as punishment. Lazaro, the scheming co-worker, beats Romaldo and the youth runs away once more. Buena is tricked by Lazaro into coming to the Yorba ranch, where he tells her he is in love with her. Her rejection angers him and he pulls out a knife, forcing a watching Zorro to intervene. Diego had learned that Buena had snuck out and followed her, a lucky decision that saves her life. Zorro and Buena convince Don Tomas that Romaldo is an honorable man and they receive consent to wed. The two servants will continue to serve out their contracts, but now can do so as man and wife.Watch Now:Amazon
The magistrado's plans to aid the Eagle may suffer a setback when a new commandante arrives in the pueblo. Unlike the fake Ortega, Capitan Toledano is loyal to the King and beyond corruption, yet he must be eliminated if the Eagle's plot is to succeed. Toledano's jealousy over his pretty wife Raquel is the key to the magistrado's newest scheme.
Sergeant Garcia returns from escorting Padre Simeon on a trip from San Diego and is surprised to find that almost everyone in Los Angeles has contracted the measles. The doctor has placed the entire pueblo under quarantine and restricted residents to their homes. Even the soldiers cannot leave the cuartel. The padre has brought a large gold chalice to Los Angeles for use in the mission and wants the town to know of its arrival. He asks Diego to take him through the pueblo so the people can see the religious symbol. Diego, who has already had the measles, agrees and helps the padre, who then takes the chalice home for safekeeping. The padre's servant, Carlos, is a former criminal, and the valuable chalice proves too much of a temptation for him. He locks the padre in a closet and takes the chalice, posting a quarantine warning on the door. If no one enters the house, the padre will die of thirst and hunger. Luckily, Diego comes to visit and realizes something is wrong when he sees the sign, for the padre was quite healthy the day before. The padre tells him of Carlos' actions and Diego rushes out to find the chalice. Dressed as Zorro, he tracks Carlos to a cabin where the thief is about to melt down the stolen relic. Zorro stops him just in time. Carlos tries to kill Zorro but is defeated. Zorro then sends him back to town to prove to the padre that he deserves another chance.
Diego continues his investigation into Señor Verdugo's business by riding to his house, where Verdugo greets him and Bernardo with his arm in a sling. Although Verdugo claims an old injury is bothering him, Diego suspects he may be the leader of the robbers, so he sets a trap. He tells Verdugo the money is being sent via the Guadalupe Trail and should be arriving shortly, but a servant overhears him. Unfortunately, Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes, who have been sent with the money along the Camino Real, decide to take a shortcut and use the Guadalupe Trail. When Zorro and Bernardo arrive at the trail, hoping to catch the robbers, they're amazed to spot the soldiers riding into a trap they have inadvertently helped set. Zorro is unable to reach them in time, for Tornado had to be left home to avoid suspicion. The robbers take the money and order the soldiers to dig their own graves, but Zorro overpowers the guards and frees Garcia and Reyes. Just then, Verdugo arrives, apparently confirming Diego's theory that he is the mastermind. In reality, Verdugo has been lured there by his servant, who plans to kill him. Zorro saves the merchant, who explains that he sent his men there to help Garcia and didn't know that his servants were the robbers.Watch Now:Amazon
A mystery develops when a teenage girl arrives in the pueblo and asks for directions to a ranch no one has ever heard of. Anita Cabrillo has been studying at a boarding school, and she has come to visit her father, whom she has not seen in many years. Anita attracts a small crowd when she asks about Don Cabrillo, who is unknown in the city, and Diego offers to let her stay at his house until the mystery can be solved. Anita has barely arrived there when she screams, then tell Diego and Don Alejandro that someone tried to enter her room. Alejandro begins to think Anita is subject to delusions, but Diego senses that someone may be trying to scare her out of town for some unknown reason. The intrigue continues when Anita sneaks away that night and rides into the woods. Zorro follows and hears a voice that warns Anita to return to Spain or be killed. Believing her to be in immediate danger, he rushes in to save her. Instead, he scares her into attempting to escape, and only Tornado's great speed enables Zorro to save Anita from riding off a treacherous cliff in the dark.
A peaceful protest by a group of peons upset with taxes turns violent when one of the Eagle's men throws a rock through the magistrado's window. Galindo uses this as an excuse to order severe measures against the peasants, a move that upsets Don Alejandro. The other landowners want to set up vigilante posses to punish the peons, but Alejandro argues on the side of reason.
Estevan again becomes a problem for Diego when he decides to earn some easy money. Los Angeles is preparing for its annual horse race and Estevan would like to win the prize money, but his horse seems unlikely to win. His luck changes when he comes across Zorro's horse, Tornado, grazing in a hidden field, and he captures the animal. Diego and Bernardo are unable to find the horse despite an extensive search, so when Estevan mentions his plans to enter a mystery horse, they suspect he has stolen Tornado. Estevan shows his new acquisition to Sergeant Garcia, who immediately recognizes it as Zorro's horse. The sergeant informs Estevan of this fact, but the greedy visitor simply sees it as another chance to make money, by capturing Zorro if the outlaw attempts to save Tornado. Garcia, Reyes and Estevan set up a guard on the only door into the deserted winery where Tornado is being stabled, planning to surprise Zorro when he walks in. Suspecting a trap, the bandit instead enters through a loft, swings down to mount his prized horse and escapes into the night.
Anita is still hoping to find her father, but Sergeant Garcia has decided she is nothing but a liar and wants to send her back to Spain. Only Diego believes her story, and he tells her she needs to supply some proof of her father's existence. She mentions a package of letters her father sent to her, and Diego asks to see them. Anita goes to her room but quickly returns without them, claiming they have been stolen. When Don Alejandro again voices his doubts about her story, she claims the letters must have been taken by Rafael Gonzales, a driver who brought her to the city from her ship. This further angers Alejandro, who has known and trusted Gonzales for many years, and he arranges for her to leave on the next ship. Anita asks Ruiz, one of the de la Vega servants, to escort her to the mission so she can hide, and she offers to pay him in gold. He agrees and arranges for another man to accompany them, planning to rob the unsuspecting girl. Zorro saves her once more, this time using his rope to prevent her from falling to her death. This adventure makes Anita even more determined to stay in Los Angeles until she finds her missing father.
When a jovial mountain man, Joe Crane, arrives in the pueblo, he is threatened with arrest for traveling in Spanish territory without official permission. Sergeant Garcia warns him to leave town but changes his mind when Crane buys him a few drinks in the tavern. Not all of Crane's problems can be solved so easily, however, for when he kisses a passing barmaid, he angers Don Carlos Fernandez so greatly that the landowner attacks the visitor. Crane immediately responds by knocking his attacker to the floor, which causes Fernandez's bodyguard to try to kill the mountain man. Diego deflects the shot, but Garcia is forced to arrest Crane and take him to jail for his own safety. Knowing Fernandez's temper, Diego is sure he will still try to kill Crane, so that night Zorro hides near the jail. Zorro sneaks inside, steals the keys, and frees Crane so he can hide in the hills. The precaution is a wise one, for Fernandez does come to the jail that night. Finding it empty, he vows to track Crane down and kill him, figuring it as an easy chore for Crane is on foot.
Thought to be hiding safely in the hills, fugitive Joe Crane instead has sneaked back into the pueblo hoping to recover his hunting rifle and the load of furs he gathered during the trapping season. He also wants to see Carlotta, the barmaid who accidentally started the fight between him and Don Carlos Fernandez. Determined to kill Crane, Fernandez and his servant Hernando are using a bloodhound named Lobo to track down the mountain man. They take the dog to the pueblo, intending to use Crane's rifle to give the dog his scent, but Diego realizes their plan and makes sure the dog picks up his scent instead. The searchers are amazed when Lobo leads them to Diego, but they find Crane's hat and Lobo picks up his scent. Crane is a wily opponent. He captures the dog in one of his traps, then takes on Fernandez and Hernando. He's helped by Zorro, who dislikes Fernandez, and once again he escapes. Before he goes, however, he steals another kiss from Carlotta, which further infuriates Fernandez.
With his father Don Alejandro now charged with treason along with Don Torres, Zorro must see that the judge sent by the governor arrives to assure a fair trial.
After the Verdugos return to Monterey, Anna Maria enters their home and discovers that her father is missing. Pablo, their former servant, tells her the old man is being held hostage and will be killed unless she hands over 45,000 pesos believed to be in the house. Diego and Bernardo arrive and Pablo slips away, warning Anna Maria that her father will be killed if she tells anyone of the kidnapping. Although she won't admit it, Diego discovers what has happened, and he asks the local commandante to send a guard to the Verdugo hacienda. This angers Romero, who claims it will endanger Verdugo's life, and he convinces Anna Maria to send Diego away. When he leaves, she finds the money hidden in a secret panel, and she gives it to Sergeant Garcia to deliver to the kidnappers. Zorro visits her that night and she tells him of her actions, prompting him to rush to Garcia's aid. The sergeant has been ambushed by the thieves, but Zorro tricks them and learns Verdugo is being held in the blacksmith's shop. While Zorro is fighting the blacksmith, Garcia lets Pablo sneak Verdugo past him, putting the merchant in mortal danger.
A Chinese boy escapes from a ship in San Pedro's harbor and tries to hide in Los Angeles. He is unable to seek help, for he speaks only his native language. Discovered hiding in Tomas Gregorio's warehouse, he is arrested as a thief. The boy's only hope is a scribbled message he gives to Diego. Not knowing Chinese, Diego sends it to the mission, knowing Father Ignacio can translate it. The reply has not yet arrived when a sailor claims that the boy is an escaped murderer being transported back to stand trial. Vinson, the sailor, convinces Garcia to hand over custody of the prisoner, and he begins the trip back to San Pedro. Father Ignacio then tells Diego that the message says the boy is actually a member of Chinese royalty and is being held for ransom by Vinson. Zorro rides after the seaman and the unfortunate boy, surprising them on a narrow cliffside trail. Vinson and Zorro fight hand-to-hand, and Zorro has to throw the kidnapper off the cliff to save his own life. The boy is taken to a ship that will carry him safely home to China.
Another agent sent by the Eagle arrives in the pueblo, this time smuggling jewelry to finance the conspiracy. Carlos Murietta, an Argentine who is contemptuous of the locals, particularly Sergeant Garcia, visits a tannery run by Jose Mordante. The two men discuss the disposition of the gems, including a famous piece known as "The Cross of the Andes", which were stolen from churches in Argentina.Watch Now:Amazon
Sergeant Garcia receives a mysterious note from Zorro. The happy soldier reads that Zorro will give himself up. When he returns for his sword, it is gone, so he sadly returns to the cuartel without having captured his foe. A wounded messenger arrives in the pueblo. He claims he was attacked in the dark by someone who then stole the army's payroll, and he offers the rest of Sergeant Garcia's sword as evidence. The magistrado orders the sergeant arrested; and, in a swift trial, Garcia is convicted and sentenced to death. Not believing that his friend is guilty, Diego decides to find who did rob the messenger. Zorro catches the man and forces him to return to the pueblo, hoping to arrive in time to save Garcia. The condemned sergeant, is narrowly saved by Zorro's arrival. Zorro finds a feather in the possesion of the man, like the one held by the murdered Rojas, this feather is cut in a secret code and it convinces Zorro that a conspiracy really does exist.
Captain Monastario finally realizes that Don Diego must be Zorro, and arrests him, but a Viceroy from the King of Spain who is visiting the pueblo turns out to be an old friend of Diego's, and this is just enough to allow Zorro to turn the tables and have Monastario discredited.
Don Alejandro convinces all of the landowners to sign a document pledging their loyalty to the government, for he has become worried by the growing signs of possible civil unrest. He leaves a copy in the hacienda and takes the original to the capitol, intending to present it to the governor. Alejandro has barely left when Diego receives some unwelcome news. A new administrator has arrived in the pueblo and announced his decision to use the de la Vega hacienda as his headquarters.
Still hoping to strike it rich during his visit to Los Angeles, Estevan shows a great deal of interest in a young woman when he learns she comes from a wealthy family. Don Alejandro accuses Estevan of only being attracted to Margarita because of her money, but the suitor denies the charges, forcing Diego to dress as Zorro in an attempt to frighten Estevan away. Instead of convincing his uncle to give up his plan, Diego has unwittingly made Estevan furious at Zorro. Hoping to trap the outlaw, Estevan arranges for Corporal Reyes to dress as Margarita and ride in her carriage. Estevan then spreads word around town that he and "Margarita" will be enjoying a quiet ride near the lake that evening. He tells Sergeant Garcia to follow the carriage, so when Zorro next tries to embarrass Estevan, he can capture his masked foe. Zorro does stop the carriage and offers to help Margarita out, only to find it is really Corporal Reyes. He frees himself from Reye's grasp and turns to fight Estevan, who has approached with his sword drawn. Reyes runs to find Garcia, who is trying to escape a pursuing skunk. Zorro forces Estevan into the lake and the two soldiers quickly follow him in to avoid their striped pursuer.
The plans of the fake commandante and the magistrado go awry when Ortega spots Diego talking to Rosarita Cortez, a childhood friend who has recently returned from the capital. Ortega fears she will recognize him from her journey, for it was during that trip that he murdered the real Ortega and assumed his identity. Bernardo overhears the two villains planning her death, and notifies Diego.
Even with his stolen gold gone, Basilio plans to remain in Los Angeles as a wealthy man. He decides to do so in a way that will let him exert a hold over Moneta Esperon, the attractive daughter of a wealthy landowner. Basilio tells Garcia that Spanish law forbids citizens to possess items made in countries that are at war with Spain. Those that do will forfeit their entire households to those who inform on the lawbreakers. Garcia is soon convinced that this would allow him to become a don himself, and thus leave the harsh life of the army behind. He is tricked into taking Basilio to Don Esperon's home, where he identifies several items as being from England, France and Italy. The sergeant begins to regret his actions, but Basilio tells him he will be hanged for treason unless he cooperates. Zorro makes life miserable for Garcia by promising to carve a "Z" in his hide if he goes along with the plan. During the trial Garcia decides to speak up for Don Esperon, much to the viceroy's dismay. Zorro provides another surprise when he bursts into the courtroom and takes Basilio prisoner. He then uses his sword to cut away parts of his prisoner's clothing, proving that the items came from enemy countries. Zorro then demands that Basilio pronounce sentence on Esperon and the cornered criminal has no choice but to declare him innocent.
Diego overhears Varga telling his aide that the de la Vega hacienda is so comfortable he intends to make it his permanent headquarters. Knowing his father will soon return and would fight to the death to protect his home, Diego decides to try a risky plan to drive the Eagle out.