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