The Three Caballeros revolutionized animation combined with live-action. So even though the movie is a much more reasonable 1 hour & 11 minutes, I’m still surprised by it being considered the seventh animated Disney film. Since Saludos Amigos proved to be successful, Walt Disney decided to stick with the Latin goodwill theme. The Three Caballeros can in a lot of ways be considered Disney’s first sequel. Only this time appealing to Mexico as well as Brazil. You can tell by the inclusion of 1940’s stars only Latin Americans would recognize. Like Aurora Miranda, Dora Luz, or Carmen Molina.
Seven shorts are loosely tied together by Donald Duck celebrating his birthday. He opens a giant present from his Latin friends that contains a reel of films, a book containing his Brazilian friend José Carioca, and a piñata presented by a new friend. Panchito Pistoles is a spirited gun-toting red Mexican rooster. Together they form the titular Three Caballeros. Unlike José though, Panchito hasn’t really endured the same way.
The Cold-Blooded Penguin – The first short is seen on Donald’s film reel. It centers on a cute little forgotten penguin named Pablo. He wants nothing more than to leave his cold climate in search of warmer Latin locations. Until he realizes penguins and warmth don’t mix.
The Flying Gauchito – Before this short is a quick look at colorful Latin birds. Including a hyperactive Aracuan bird that pops up throughout the movie. It leads into the next short about a boy’s horse racing dreams. The boy from Uruguay meets a winged donkey that makes his dreams come true.
Baia – The next short is seen in the Brazilian pop-up book. José once again takes Donald through the Samba. Only this time with a live-action Bahia. The trip leads to Donald falling in love with human woman Aurora Miranda.
Las Posadas – After Panchito is introduced, he tells Donald and José all about the significance of the piñata. With a story about a Mexican tradition where children reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph on Christmas. The art is meant to resemble a story book.
Mexico: Pátzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco – The next segment involves the Three Caballeros touring Mexico City on a magic carpet. They learn Mexican dances and take in the music. But the strangest thing is Donald more creepily chasing after human women on a beach.
You Belong to My Heart – It’s followed by Dora Luz randomly singing in the sky. Accompanied by visuals that correspond to the song. Of course Donald once again falls in love.
Donald’s Surreal Reverie – The last segment is just as trippy as Fantasia. Donald sees colors, flowers, and dances with Carmen Molina. We also see several cacti dance. It’s followed by an explosive musical finale where Donald fights a toy bull.
In conclusion, it may surprise you to know I actually did see The Three Caballeros when I was a kid. All I really remember was the infectious signature song sung by the Three Caballeros. My brother and I had a lot of fun with the song. This is probably one of the weirder Disney movies. The animation and music at times seems to be more important than the plot. If there even is one. It’s understandable that the live-action/animated sequences are a bit rough. So even though The Three Caballeros is dated, it’s a Latin feast for the eyes and ears.