Disney (Wednes)Day: The Three Caballeros

The Three Caballeros is another propagandistic Disney movie. It was first released in 1944 in Mexico and 1945 in the US.

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This film starts strong and doesn’t seem like the utter diasppointment Saludos Amigos was in my opinion. The movie opens with a shot of a big-ass present. We learn this is a gift from Donald’s south American friends, yay! The tag says that Donald’s birthday is on a Friday 13th which is funny because I was born on such a Friday.

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At first Donald unwraps some film equipment and starts watching the film that came with it which shows a neat little movie about penguins on the south pole, because, they’re also birds; ducks meet penguins, penguins meet ducks. Okay then. The story is about a penguin named Pablo because that’s a completely normal name for a penguin. Unlike his peers, Pablo is always freezing and he turns into a popsicle every time he gets too far away from his stove. HOKAY, WHATEVER YOU TELL ME, SHOW!! This naturally gets in the way of his dream of living on a tropical island because in order to get to said magical island, he first has to make his way through the eternal ice. Of course that doesn’t work well.

After many ill-fated attempts, Pablo cuts off a part of the ice with his little igloo on top and off he sails. Naturally that sheet of floating ice doesn’t melt as he gets into warmer waters, sailing off the coast of South America until he turns left on the equator towards his little island. On his was, he sails past Robinson Crusoe.

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At first Pablo seems happy on his tropical island but apparently it’s a bit hotter than he anticipated and bless his little penguin heart, he misses the South Pole. I’d miss that too.

From there, we’re introduced to a couple more birds from the southern continent. I hope you don’t expect me to name them because birds. Boring.

Then we cut to a little farm in Uruguay where we’re told the story of a little Gaucho. Again with the education on what a Latin American cowboy looks like. Ugh. He sets off to hunt for ostriches but ends up finding a flying donkey. Lil’ Gaucho thinks he can make tons of money with his flying donkey so he takes him to the races where, at first, the race doesn’t look so good for them. But then Lil’ Gaucho unleashes the wings and off they go, winning the race. Sadly, the donkey can’t keep his wings hidden and so Lil’ Gaucho doesn’t get his money. That’s what you get for trying to cheat, yo!

Cut to Donald Duck unwrapping another present, this time it looks like a pop-up book of Brazil, featuring our old friend, the Parrot from Saludos Amigos. Cue lots of music and aerial shots of Brazil until they travel to Baia where they meet up with the locals and Donald has a thing for one of the singers, who, according to Wikipedia, was a famous singer in the days.

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This is followed by an animated bit with traditional instruments that reminds me of a part from Fantasia where the sound is represented as a line that moves back and forth depending on what notes are played.

Up next, we meet a bird cowboy from Mexico and together Donald, the Parrot and Mexican Cowboy form the Three Gay Caballeros. I understand that gay is an adjective but their clothes beg to differ! #justsaying

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Donald gets a piƱata for his birthday and the audience gets educated on Christmas traditions in Mexico, followed by some Mexican history. This is all followed by more dancing locals, all dressed up in their traditional outfits, yada yada yada. The trio flies with their magical carpet that I have forgotten to mention earlier over Acapulco beach. Donald again gets the hots for the ladies on the beach and decides to get his flirt on. More music and singing and eerily cheery locals. This is all followed by more and more singing and dancing until the movie ends. Phew.

THE END.

The Three Caballeros started out strong and much better than Saludos Amigos though you can still tell this is another propaganda movie, this one’s done much more subtle though, probably because more time went into its production. I enjoyed the first half of the film but then it turned into this showcase of traditional singing and dancing without a real story running through the damn thing, which is where I got lost and wished for it to be over already.

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  • Heather

    Pablo the penguin was my all time favorite when I was a kid. My boys really liked this movie a lot too because it was fast moving and lots of music.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Having seen most of these package films now, this ranks rather low on the scale for me. But I’ve also read a lot of better things about this movie, like you said, the fast pace is good and many seem to enjoy that. Pablo the Penguin is pretty nice, I have to admit :)

  • Tim

    There were a lot of Disney movies I watched as a kid that I grew out of liking as I got older. Three Caballeros was one of the first ones of drop off that list. I can’t explain it, but there was something about the singing/dancing in the movie that just seemed off. Not even a penguin (because omgpenguins!) could save my enjoyment.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      You’re one of the OMGPEMGUINS people too? Aww, penguins are pretty fantastic :)
      Unfortunately all the 1940s Disney movies are heavy on the dancing/singing and it’s torture. I watched 5 of them in 3 days, not that I’m complaining because I do this to myself and am thus to blame for this but they are difficult to enjoy.

      • Tim

        I do love penguins a lot. Behind cats, they’re my favorite animal. I went to a zoo last summer and got to pet a penguin…it was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          Getting to pet a penguin was probably amazing. I just went to the zoo this year to watch them from afar.

  • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

    I’ve never seen this movie. But, The Three Caballeros appear in a ride in the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot. From what I remember, it was a slow moving boat ride. I think they were supposed to perform a concert together, but Donald gets separated, and the other 2 birds spend most of the rest of the ride looking for him. You get educated about Mexico as you move through the ride. At the end, they are finally reunited and they sing while fireworks are going off. It’s not awful. It would suck if it were in any other park. But there aren’t too many good rides in the World Showcase area of Epcot, so this kind of stands out there.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      What is Epcot even?