While we are in the latin mood let’s talk about the next feature film from Disney: The Three Caballeros. This is similar to Saludos Amigos and is more effective in some ways and less in others. It has a similar history to Saludos Amigos and was part of the Goodwill tour but Walt and animators are not featured in Caballeros like they were in Saludos. Still, it does feel like a travelogue of Brazil and Mexico.
It starts with Donald opening a bunch of presents with each one leading to a little skit or ‘presentation’ (quite the pun there…)
At first it seems like the shorts are going to be good. There is a cute piece on a penguin who dreams of an island paradise.
And then one about a donkey that can fly and win sports races that is cute. Both of these are on the same level as the Pedro the plane short in Saludos Amigos.
If they had just provided two more pieces without the live action segments of Saludos it would have been great but sadly the last half of the movie becomes tedious. We get introduced to Panchito the Mexican Rooster and he sings a manic song with Donald and Jose. It’s a fine song with a lot of energy but kind of grading and a little bit of Panchito goes a long way! Plus, the lyrics about gay caballeros is a little out of date…
As you can see the animation in the song is quite good but it is just a little too much shouting for my taste. And I still can never understand what Jose is saying. Donald is hard enough but Jose is very difficult.
After the song it becomes even stranger. Evidently the merging of live film and animation had just been realized (I believe the same year Gene Kelly danced with Jerry from Tom and Jerry. No doubt Disney was excited about this potential and was eager to use it a lot! We spend a lot of the next 30 minutes watching people dance with the animation and listening to pretty good music but it has no story so it gets a little dull.
Then the last third of the movie is literally Donald chasing human women around Buenos Aires which is strange on a lot of levels.
The animation is better in Three Cabellos than in Saludos Amigos but the novelty had warn off me and a lot of the dancing and skirt chasing was boring. They should have done 4 shorts like they did in Saludos but I think they were just so excited about the idea of animation/live action combining that they went a little nuts with it. It is 30 minutes longer than Saludos and it feels it.
I still find it amazing that with this being a goodwill tour that Mickey never showed up in these films. I would think Walt would have pulled his alter ego out to help the cause.
From what I read the box office was not as strong for this as Saludos, so probably why they moved away from these Latin films and on to English animated short mashups for the next 4 films.
It’s harmless fluffy entertainment that would feel better as a blip before a feature film on the Disney channel. In those small doses it could be very charming but as a movie it is tough. The Donald chasing women gag isn’t really funny and all the music and dancing leading to nothing in the story gets a little dull. However, the animation is dizzingly fast and it is entertaining to see the beginning of animation and live action melding together.
So, if you think a tour of animated South America sounds like your cup of tea, check it out.
Overall Grade- D