The Three Caballeros (1944)

Supervising Director: Norman Ferguson
Sequence Directors: Clyde Geronimi/Jack Kinney/Bill Roberts/Harold Young
Written by: Homer Brightmen/Ernest Terrazas/Ted Sears/Bill Peet/Ralph Wright/Elmer Plummer/Roy Williams/William Cottrell/Del Connell/James Bodrero

Jose is back! And this time he brought a friend!

Package film number two is an expanded version of Soludos Amigos and it’s way better. Like the first one, it mixes live-action with animation (mostly in the Donald segments) and it shows us more of Latin America.

At the beginning of the film, Donald is opening birthday presents. The first is a projector that shows a documentary about birds. Part of the doc is about a little penguin at the South Pole who hates the cold. He just wants to be warm! So he dreams of moving to the Galapagos Islands. One of the birds is the crazy little loon, the Aracuan bird. The Aracuan shows up throughout the film and in a couple more shorts unrelated to this movie.

Then we meet another strange bird: a little donkey with wings. The little boy who finds him uses him to win a horse race. Or try, at least.

Next up is a book from Jose about Bahia, one of the states of Brazil. Jose shows up, shrinks them down, and takes them inside the book. They dance around Bahia while Donald pines for Aurora Miranda. (Yeah, it’s a little creepy, to be honest.) Then they go back and Jose makes them full size again.

This is where the third of the Caballeros shows up! Panchito Pistoles is a Mexican rooster with amazing breath control and a giant pinata. He shows Donald and Jose Las Posadas, a group of Mexican kids who reenact the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus looking for a place to stay. They break pinatas and then Donald busts his own pinata, taking him, Jose and Panchito to Mexico. The fly around on a magic sarape where they dance, sing and chase women all over the beaches. (That seems to be mainly what Donald does in this movie.)

Then Donald falls in love with Dora Luz who sings You Belong To My Heart to him. (She was also the singer in the short film Destino, which was started by Disney and Salvador Dali in 1945, but not finished until 2003.) But the romance doesn’t end well, because things get really weird. Jose and Panchito come back, chase Donald with an exploding bull and that’s the end.

This movie is super chaotic. In fact, I barely remember the order of anything that happened and had to look at the Wikipedia page to figure out kind of how it went. With shorts coming out of nowhere and being intertwined with other shorts, it’s a surreal adventure with three crazy birds. (Four, if you count the Aracuan.) It’s maybe not a great film (and definitely has some creepy, sexist moments and probably some racist undertones that seemed friendly at the time), but I kinda love it. The mix of Donald, Jose, and Panchito is a winner for me.

After this and Saludos Amigos, Jose Carioca became HUGE in South America. He still features in his own comic book and has become (along with Donald and Panchito) a part of EPCOT and It’s A Small World. This makes me happy.