Title: The Three Caballeros
Release Date: December 21, 1944
Director: Norman Ferguson (supervising director), Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, and Harold Young
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
The second of Disney’s six package films of the World War II era is also the second to originate from Walt Disney & company’s good will visit to Latin America after Saludos Amigos (which I’ve not yet watched). The movie focuses on Donald Duck receiving birthday gifts from his feathered friends in Latin America, the Brazilian parrot José Carioca and the Mexican rooster Panchito Pistoles.
The first two segments are animated shorts that we watch with Donald. “The Cold-Blooded Penguin” tells the story of a penguin named Pablo who hates the cold and migrates to the Galapagos. “The Flying Gauchito” tells the story of a boy from Uruguay who adopts a flying donkey. Both stories are cute and feature lots of puns and sight gags.
José then joins Donald and takes him on a journey to Bahia in Brazil through a pop-up book where they sing and dance with Aurora Miranda. Panchito joins them and they learn the Christmas story of Las Posadas. The three birds travel around Mexico on a flying sarape, exploring various song and dance traditions. Then things get weird as Donald has surreal visions while singer Dora Luz performs. Donald then dances with Carmen Molina among shrinking and swelling cactus before the grand finale.
For much of this movie Donald Duck is incredibly horny about the Latin American women performers. Even if you set aside 2020 sensibilities about the “male gaze” and sexual harassment, the fact that these excellent performances by Miranda, Luz, and Molina keep getting upstaged by Donald going full-Tex Avery is just rude. I’m not sure why the filmmakers felt they needed nonstop “comic relief” but it doesn’t feel like they had much goodwill for the artists of Latin America. The visuals are pretty impressive in the animation and I really like the musical numbers, especially Aurora Miranda’s.