the studio gate

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room
saludos and caballeros 

"Saludos Amigos" (1942) and "The Three Caballeros" (1945) represent a trying time in Disney's animation history. The studio was in the middle of World War II churning out propaganda films for the United States, a strike by animators which seemed to change the moral at the studio during "Amigos." By 1945, the studio was trying to get back into the swing of making animated movies, but with budgets tight, Walt had his animation staff cut some corners. He was also invited down to South America and the Latin American countries to promote goodwill to our neighbors. The result is a pair of cartoon compilations with a loose story thread. The result is also trying on the viewer, even to die hard Disney fans.

It's been a while since I first popped in the VHS version of "Saludos" and "Caballeros." Honesty, I never really cared for the films. The segments are random and go from comedy to artistic and never feel cohesive. These are movies made during Disney's 1940s period that just don't gel. Some of the segments, as I recall, have been cut from the film and shown by themselves on the old "Wonderful World of Disney" television series. I also seem to recall seeing some of the segments in Spanish class when schools had 16mm projectors. (Wow, now I'm feeling old!)

"Saludos" has three cartoon segments worth watching. Donald Duck's visit to Lake Titicaca is every bit as good as his best cartoon shorts. Pedro, the little airplane "that could" is a gentle and cute film in itself. And Goofy's adventures as a gaucho has funny moments. The final cartoon, "Watercolor of Brazil" is a struggle to watch. It's basically a lot of limited animation of Jose Carioca and Donald Duck singing and dancing. The rest of the movie is interspersed with 16mm travelogue footage of Walt and his animators, and life in South America.

"Caballeros" is a little bit more refined and has more going for it. But it's tough to sit through. I've always liked the segment of "Aves Raras (Strange Birds)" in which a penguin wants to leave the South Pole for warmer weather. I was annoyed by the animated character of the aracuan bird. He annoyed me on VHS and he annoys me on DVD! That repetitive song he sings just won't get out of my head, and probably won't get out of yours, either. The story of Little Gauchito and his burro is sweet and comical. The next segment, "Baia," is what I equate to going to your grandmother's house and listening to old time music on a phonograph. You can appreciate it, but it doesn't mean you like it. Aurora Miranda shows up in live action to sing and dance with Donald Duck and Jose Carioca. The animation and live action blend is as good as any Disney film that's done it. But I couldn't get past the music. No, it's not bad, but it's not my cup of tea. The final act of the movie involves Panchito from Mexico, who shows Donald and Jose his country.

The duo of Latin American Disney movies features some of the most eclectic animation from the studio since "Fantasia," which was made a few years before. The films were very popular in their time, especially in Latin America. But to watch them today takes a bit of patience.

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: © Disney. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse


Some of it's good, some of it's not so good

Directors: Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson/Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts

Cast: Clarence Nash, Jose Oliveira, Pinto Colvig/Aurora Miranda, Carmen Molina, Sterling Holloway


Lots of extras



Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

For real die hard Disney fans, there's a bit o' Walt to see

Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)

Dolby Digital 2.0

April 29, 2008