Thursday, February 10, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Saludos Amigos (1942) / The Three Caballeros (1944)

Live-action segments show members of the Disney staff touring South America and recording their impressions in sketches. These segue into four animated sections: "Lake Titicaca" depicts tourist Donald Duck's troubles with a stubborn llama; "Pedro" tells of a little mail plane's adventures flying over the treacherous Andes; "El Gaucho Goofy" transplants an American cowboy into the Argentine pampas; and in "Aquarela do Brasil," Jose Carioca shows Donald the sights and sounds of Rio de Janiero. [imdb]

A large box arrives for Donald on his birthday, three gifts inside. He unwraps one at a time, and each takes him on an adventure. The first is a movie projector with a film about the birds of South American: Donald watches two cartoons, one tells of a penguin who longs to live on a tropical isle and the other about a gaucho boy who hunts the wild ostrich. The second gift is a pop-up book about Brazil. Inside is Zé Carioca, who takes Donald to Brazil's Bahia for a mix of animation and live action: the two cartoon birds sing and dance with natives. The third gift is a piñata, accompanied by Panchito. A ride on a magic serape takes the three amigos singing and dancing across Mexico. ¡Olé! [imdb]
I will be brief about these two... First of all, I decided to review these together based solely on the fact that they are on my DVD as a combo.  They technically go well together as they are both "travelogue" style about Latin America, combining both live action segments and animated shorts together in one feature each.

Saludos Amigos surrounds a US government sponsored trip Walt and his animators took to South America, and mixes narrated footage of Walt and crew learning about the culture with four(4) little shorts starring Donald Duck, Goofy, Pedro the Plane, and José Carioca, a new character created specifically for this film.

The Three Caballeros is grounded in the animated world, with Donald Duck opening presents, demonstrated by live action clips. José Carioca makes another appearance, along with another new character, Panchito Pistoles.  I'd have to say this one is a bit more weird than the previous film, mostly due to the Aracuan bird, which is something you have to witness to fully understand my point.

I kind of felt The Three Caballeros really devolved into random absurdity during the final musical number, which really left me wondering what I was watching exactly.  It was fun and colourful and entertaining... but it was just very bizarre.  The song is called Donald's Surreal Reverie, so I guess it was supposed to be weird.

All things said, these bring back a lot of fun memories of watching The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night, and they're quite appreciative of the cultures of Latin America.  While they are definitely classics, I still think they are an odd choice to be placed in the Disney Animated Classics canon.

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