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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Live Action > Political Propaganda > Walt Disney Classic Caballeros Collection: Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros (DVD)

Walt Disney Classic Caballeros Collection: Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros (DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: B-



After all this time and all the talks of ‘understanding the past’ that Leonard Maltin has given us on the Disney Treasure Collections (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Disney has not managed to replace Goofy’s cigarette that they edited out years ago; yet Jose Carioca still has his cigar, explain that one.  Moving along, now available on DVD for the second time are Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros released together as the Classic Caballeros Collection (previously released separately in the Disney Gold Collection).  In a sad way, though they are both members of the current catalog of 46 Disney animated feature films, both Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros are treated as ‘lesser’ Disney films.  Disney only furthers the negative view toward the two South American inspired films by now packaging them together as one collection.


To be realistic, however, the two films were made at a down time for Disney (between Bambi and Cinderella) in which the company was in the middle of artistic and financial woes.  Both films were spawned from a trip that the US Government sent Disney Studios on in the 1940s as a way of promoting good will between North and South America in a time war.  With Nazi propaganda gaining speed all over the world, America was not going to take any chances in missing a good will mission.  During the trip (as Disney had explained was the goal of the trip) Disney animators took the opportunity to draw inspiration from their surroundings and from that two classic animated features were created.


Saludos Amigos was the first film to be released after the trip and is composed of four different animated segments.  The four segments of the animated feature include Lake Titicaca, Pedro, El Gaucho Goofy, and Aquarela do Brasil.  Two of the segments feature Donald Duck, one features Goofy, and the fourth features an airplane named Pedro.  Lake Titicaca stars Donald Duck as an American tourist as he learns the ways of the land and meets some of the locals, one of which is a persistent llama who does not exactly see eye to eye with our favorite ill tempered duck.  Pedro, as previously mentioned, is about a small Chilean Airplane with a big heart who is about to embark upon his first flight to pick up airmail from Mendoza, but his first flight may be his last as odd and dangerous happenings occur.  The third segment stars Goofy as the typical American cowboy as he visits Argentina and learns the ways of the local gaucho; this is also the same segment Disney annoyingly removed the Goofy cigarette scene from.  The fourth and final segment once again stars Donald and a brand new character, Jose Carioca, as Donald is shown around Brazil for all its amazing sites and is introduced to the art of the Samba.  The entire film feels very touristy with its blatant use of Brazilian scenery and live action shots, but still somehow manages to stay fun and colorful.


The Three Caballeros was created after the great box office success of Saludos Amigos and runs almost double (at 72 minutes) the time of the first film.  The new film was in the same vein as its predecessor, in that it was overflowing with Pro-United States/American/Central American/ South American propaganda.  The film has little continuity (if any) in its seven different segments, but does an amazing job of showcasing Disney’s amazing artistic innovations and colorful visions.  The seven segments include new characters such as a winged donkey, a penguin named Pablo who has had enough of the cold weather at the South Pole, a wacky bird from Mexico named Panchito Pistoles, and a few old faces such as Donald Duck and Jose Carioca.  The Three Caballeros is much more controversial than Saludos Amigos in that its imagery definitely brings out the Freudian side of any adult viewer as they see the plethora of vaginal and phallic symbols fly by in some of the more colorful Donald Duck sequences, as well as some other drunken escapades in Mexico with Donald and the boys.  The Three Caballeros is longer and features many more live action sequences than Saludos Amigos does, and personally this reviewer preferred the more condensed and cartoony feel of the first film.


Even being the extraordinary Disney fan that this reviewer is, he can not personally say he has ever loved either of the animated films featured here.  What is recognizable here, however, is the amazing visionary that was Walt Disney.  The colorful nature and unique storyline that follows each segment of the two films is admirable and helps us to understand why Disney was not just the father of modern animation as we know it, but was a true respected artist.  The films may not reach the level of Cinderella or The Lion King, but they still have value that is out of this world in terms of art and showcasing the history of our past.  If you have never viewed these films, now is the time to take a trip South of the Border with some of our favorite Disney pals.


Whether it was to give fans a second chance to own some classic Disney films or for Disney to have a convenient excuse to release the films one last time before Blu-Ray took over, The Classic Caballeros Collection has improved little on the technical front since the films were previously released separately.  With little to no restoration both films are presented in their original 1.33 X 1 full screen format demonstrating strong colors, but is strongly lacking in the area of sharpness often feeling soft and degraded to some degree in the live action/animated sequences.  The sound quality is nicer than the previous releases in its Dolby Digital 5.1 surrounds, though the sound still comes heavily from the front.


Disney enthusiast will enjoy the several extras that were added to this two film set, but overall they are nothing to write home about.  Extra features include a Backstage Disney: South of the Border featurette that gives the audience a look at the South American trip Disney, his wife, and a slue of animators took back in the 1940’s.  The South of the Border featurette is well worth owning as it is very informative and entertaining, but the other two extras of Bonus shorts and a short 2 minute Walt Disney CBC interview are very lackluster.  This set may be worth owning to upgrade your older Disney Gold Collection discs (mainly for the one extra feature), but otherwise the picture and sound do not merit a double dip for these films.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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