Ay Caramba! Aves Raros and Pretty Girls
Originally Released: 1944
I easily remember Donald, Joe Carioca, and Panchito singing their catchy “Three Caballeros” tune – probably as easily as any other Disney song. Though I don’t know the words very well, I have still found myself humming the melody at the most random moments over the years. That song alone makes The Three Caballeros worth revisiting from time to time.
Picking up where Saludos Amigos left off, The Three Caballeros continues the theme of goodwill and flattery to Latin America. This time, though, Mexico takes center stage along with Brazil. The film is divided into three segments, represented by three birthday presents given to Donald Duck from his avian friends south of the border.
The first present is a filmstrip with short stories about a penguin who wants to escape the cold of Antarctica, and about a little gaucho boy in Uruguay who discovers a flying donkey, which apparently is part of the bird family. Also included is a short segment which describes some of the more interesting birds of South America, including that meio maluco Aracuan.
Following the first segment, Donald receives a picture book in which Joe Carioca appears and gets Donald to travel with him to Bahia, Brazil. At this stage we begin to enter into some more creative and surreal territory. Also, this is the point where Disney and his team begins to blend the animation with live action. Finally, from here we start to be introduced to a few of the many pretty girls of South America.
After Donald and Joe get their fill of the Bahia, the third present is opened, and out pops the third Caballero, Panchito the red rooster, complete with his sombrero and mariachi gritos. And thus begins what has to be the most surreal and at some points strange sequences in Disney history. It begins normal enough as the three birds hitch a ride on a magic carpet and tour some interesting locales in Mexico, but after a while all the music, dancing, and girls gets to Donald’s brain and the scene evolves into a fantastically strange sequence that trumps even the “pink elephants on parade” from Dumbo.
In the end, I suppose that we can learn from this film that South America has some really lovely locations, great traditional music, lively folk, and last but not least, many beautiful women. Certainly the ideas portrayed in this film would have helped create a feeling of goodwill towards the neighboring American countries back in the 1940’s.
Maybe with all the current events in Rio, Salvador, and many parts of Mexico, Disney could make an action-packed sequel. Perhaps I’ll pitch the idea to them sometime. But until the sequel happens, we can go back in time and enjoy the singing and dancing of yester-year. And pretty girls.