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Customer Review

63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite a trip, February 7, 2008
This review is from: Saludos Amigos / Three Caballeros (DVD)
My husband loves the animated finale of "The Three Caballeros" so much he says nothing else here matters, and rates this, ahem, unique Disney collection 5 stars. I, on the other hand, rate it 3. Sure, the surreal stuff is creative, but the live-action material is so lame! And besides, I want a story! The 4 stars above are our compromise. (Our teenage daughter, by the way, sides more with her father.)

So here's my review, a mix of all of our opinions.

SALUDOS AMIGOS

"Saludos Amigos" is a 42-minute South American travelogue. Produced in 1942 with limited wartime resources, it uses live-action scenes to link together four cartoons.

The live-action segments show Walt Disney and a team of Disney artists as they travel to the continent and then gather information and sketch cartoon ideas. Poorly composed, badly faded and politically out of date, the footage has the look of an old home movie, as well as an obviously overdubbed soundtrack. My husband, however, geezer-in-training that he is, likes these scenes for their historical value, as they are filled with propeller-driven airliners, 1930s automobiles and lots of women in big, flowing dresses.

As for the cartoons, my whole family agrees that they are some of Disney's best.

"Lake Titicaca" stars Donald Duck as a tourist, getting into trouble as he attempts to sail a boat, take photos, communicate with the locals and ride a llama across a suspension bridge.

"Pedro" tells the story of a cute "little boy plane" who dreams of carrying the mail between Chile and Argentina. A compelling story full of fun and drama, it holds up amazingly well, and looks like it could have been drawn yesterday.

The hilarious "El Gaucho Goofy," is in the same vein as the 1950s Goofy "How-To" cartoons. As the narrator blindly describes how Goofy "deftly tosses" a lasso around a horse, "quickly converts" his saddle into a bed and "gracefully" dines on barbecue, the dippy dog botches every step. (If you buy this DVD, watch for these scene transitions. The lasso segment literally gets pushed off screen by the saddle scene, which itself ends by rolling up like a window shade. When the barbecue segment wipes off at an angle, Goofy nearly falls out of it!)

Finally, much like a tropical version of "Fantasia," the terrific "Aquarela do Brasil" ("Watercolor of Brazil") starts off as a painting of a vibrant rainforest that comes to life to music, in this case a great version of the samba standard "Tico Tico No Fubá." Soon Donald appears, meets Brazilian playboy parrot José Carioca (a Disney version of a Brazilian folk character), and the duo shake their bonbons off into the nightlife of Rio. Much of Jose's dialogue is in Portuguese.

THE THREE CABALLEROS

The most bizarre movie the Walt Disney company has ever produced, 1945's "The Three Caballeros" is a collection of animated shorts, all tied together by a bare-bones plot of Donald Duck learning about Latin America. The cartoons progress from typically sweet Disney family fare to a truly psychedelic, adult-oriented swingin'-single travelogue that turns Donald into a libidinous wolf.

It begins as Donald Duck, sitting alone in a room, receives a big box filled with birthday presents "from his friends in Latin America." First up are a few cartoons about some unusual animals of South America -- "The Cold Blooded Penguin," "A Visit With More Rare Birds" (rainforest birds) and "The Story of The Flying Gauchito" (a flying donkey). These three shorts take up the first 22 minutes of the film.

Next out of the box are two pop-up books about Brazil and Mexico. Each of these comes to life as its own peyote-paced animated featurette.

First, the cigar-chomping José Carioca pops out of the Brazil book and takes Donald on a 19-minute trip to the town of Baia (today's Salvador). As a catchy rhythm builds, Carioca creates his own harmony by dividing into four identical versions of himself, male, then female.

Eventually the birds meet the Cookie Lady (a live-action singer who attracts men with her baked goods) and soon the whole thing turns into what perhaps can best be described as a samba-fueled cookie version of the Marilyn Monroe production number, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend."

Donald gets jealous and pursues the Cookie Lady through the village -- which is, all along, a live-action stage set meant to be a huge pop-up-book page. For the finale, the Cookie Lady turns blue, two of her live-action suitors turn into fighting gamecocks and soon everyone and everything -- including the buildings, the moon, the waves in the sea -- dances into the night.

The book about Mexico brings forth Panchito, a six-gun-shooting cowboy rooster. He tosses sombreros to his new feathered friends, proclaims the trio "three gay caballeros" and takes Donald and José on a 30-minute flying-serape tour of his country.

On Acapulco Beach, Donald goes ga-ga for dozens of live-action bathing beauties ("Come to Papa! Come here, my little enchilada!") and keeps losing his swimming suit. At night the duck can't stay away from the clubs, where he dances with still more real-life señoritas.

The movie's bizarre animation includes illogical color changes and an overdose of morphing gags. Donald himself assumes over a hundred shapes and color patterns, and once becomes a woman. Some scenes, however, are beautiful Mary Blair gems that would later inspire the films "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland," as well as the classic Disney attraction It's a Small World.

Sound great? My husband sure thinks so, and though I love the Mary Blair art, all the surreal animation and dated live-action blending don't exactly float my boat, and, well, I like my movies with a story! Still, some people have always found "The Three Caballeros" irresistibly entertaining, and it is certainly a must for any animation fan, as it shows the Disney animation team at its free-for-all zenith.

The two movies were produced as part of the U.S. government's Good Neighbor Policy, an effort to promote pro-American feelings (and combat Nazi sympathies) in Latin America during World War II.

BONUS FEATURES

Extras on the DVD include two good Donald Duck cartoons. In 1937's "Don Donald" (also on The Chronological Donald Vol. 1), a flirtatious Daisy Duck (here named "Donna") gets trapped in the rumble seat of Donald's car as it bounces through the Mexican desert. In 1944's "Contrary Condor" (also on The Chronological Donald Vol. 2), Donald finds himself hatching out of a condor egg and dealing with an overprotective mother.

Also included is 1942's "South Of The Border With Disney," a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary. It shows Disney artists, including Mary Blair, in South America getting inspiration for the animated sequences in these films. It was also on the year-2000 DVD release of Saludos Amigos.

Overall, my family agrees that there is certainly a lot here for the money, but we're split on how much of it will stand up to repeat viewing.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 12, 2008 8:04:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 12, 2008 8:07:34 PM PST
MBLA says:
Wow! Thanks so much for posting the information, Julie! You rock!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2008 4:16:11 PM PST
R. Smith says:
does anyone know if the movies will be edited as they were last time? (im sure thats too much to ask)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2008 6:53:51 AM PST
Julie Neal says:
I can't imagine it, at least not that "Saludos Amigos" scene of El Gaucho Goofy smoking a cigarette.

Posted on Feb 29, 2008 7:33:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 29, 2008 7:34:40 PM PST
sixonehalf says:
Thanks for your wonderful review! In college my husband spent time in Mexico, and I spent some time in Brazil, so we're now looking forward to getting this one for our family. So, does the "Jose" of Brazil and the "Jose" of Mexico undergo a change in the pronunciation of his name? ("J" is pronounced as an "h' in Spanish and as a "J" in Portuguese. As in the well-known Spanish "ho-say" and the lesser-known Portuguese "joe-say.") Just wondering.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2008 9:48:36 AM PDT
Dave says:
Having seen the actual DVD, yes, the cigarette has been edited out.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2008 8:04:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 12, 2008 7:25:25 AM PDT
M. M. says:
Hi Pamela -- In Saludos Amigos, José's name is correctly pronounced as "zjoe-say," although he's primarily referred to simply as "Joe." In Three Caballeros, though, he and the others pronounce his name as "ho-say." It's an irksome oddity to language purists (myself included) but is easily forgivable nonetheless. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2008 3:11:16 AM PDT
Well said, Dave. I always give more credence to a review if someone has actually seen the DVD being released.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Julie Neal
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Celebration, Fla.

Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,320