Director: Norman Ferguson | 69 minutes | comedy, animation, family, musical | Original Voice Cast: Aurora Miranda, Carmen Molina, Dora Luz, Sterling Holloway, Clarence Nash, Joaquin Garay, José Oliveira, Frank Graham, Fred Shields, Nestor Amarale
“The Three Caballeros” is yet another one of Disney’s compilation films released during World War II, due to lack of money and manpower to film a full story. It is a compilation of several movies inspired by Walt Disney’s South American business trips. Donald Duck receives a large package for his birthday (that includes three presents, each of which introduces him to a different country in Latin America. The first gift is a film projector and reels of film. Donald loves films and plays the series immediately. It turns out to be a number of films about different (South American) birds. Donald has “more relatives in South America than there are coffee beans in Brazil …”
The first film that makes an impression is a funny story about a penguin who is always cold and then makes all kinds of attempts to migrate to the Northern half of the world. The scene in which he reaches the equator is very amusing. A wonderful childlike image of the equator, because what child does not think that the equator is a truly visible line?
For fans of “Shrek”, “The Three Caballeros” is also worth a look, as it seems very likely that the makers of “Shrek” have at least seen this film and may even have drawn some inspiration from it. The audience is presented with a story about a flying donkey and a little later in the film a “piñata appears, and given Donkey’s exclamation in” Shrek 2 “” What is a piñata anyway? “
The second gift is a large pop-up book, which hatches Joe Carioca, the green parrot, and takes Donald to Baia. The train journey to Baia is beautifully animated, surreal, but very cheerful and colorful. In Baia, Donald falls in love with a cookie seller, who is not animated, but the actress and singer Aurora Miranda. The combination of live action and animation is nicely done in this film, the characters interact well with each other and you immediately believe that Aurora is hugging Donald Duck. The music and dancing may seem a bit dated, and take a little too long, but the comical situations make up for this.
After Baia, Joe Carioca and Donald Duck meet the Mexican rooster Panchito. He takes the duo to Mexico where the three caballeros fly around on a magic carpet and Donald throws himself into one adventure after another. Again, he chases the ladies (what would Katrien think about that?) And this makes for funny scenes on the beach of Acapulco.
All in all, this Disney classic is not a standard film, it is too fragmented for that, but a nice introduction to Latin American culture and of course you can enjoy the beautiful animations, which even so many years later still look impressive.