My opinion right after watching movie
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is confusing. It is like a short film at first, then it is a party, then it is Donald cheating on Daisy and trying to get women. It has no substance and it is just a bunch of noise. I am not as mind-blown mad as the Disney Odyssey and Unshaved Mouse are, but I do agree with them.
So this film was a part of the deal that they had with Latin America to improve the relationship between them and the US for war-time. Apparently there was gonna be a sequel to this, but never came to fruition.
The story starts with Donald Duck (Clarence Nash) opening up presents for his birthday; Friday the 13th. He receives 3 presents from 3 friends in Latin America, and the first one is a projector, which leads us to our first short of the movie.
The Cold Blodded Penguin
So this short is about a penguin named Pablo, who is sick of the cold water in the South Pole, so he hops on a boat to go to coastal Argentina, and he finally makes it to some beach. He ends up missing the cold of the South Pole, but he is stuck where he is. This is actually a nice short. Perfectly paced, the character Pablo is likable, and it has charm.
The Flying Gauchito
So before this short starts, we see an imitation of Woody the Woodpecker and 2 birds struggling to make love (according to the narrator). Speaking of the narrator, we are taken to the story where he is a little boy, and how he met up with a flying donkey when he was up in the mountains. They soon form a friendship over money and they enter a donkey contest. The donkey wins, but they get called out for the donkey being weird, and they fly off into the sky to never be seen again (said by the narrator who is the boy but older….. makes absolutely no sense). This short like the previous one has a more calm and serious tone to it, and they are easily the best shorts of the film. The issue is that they are so separate from the others, which you will find out why soon.
Things get weird around this part of the film, where Donald opens his next present and Jose (José Oliveira) from Saludos Amigos appears. He constantly asks/sings about if Donald went to Baia, and takes him there. It does not sound like a good place when he is saying “Once you’ve gone to Baia, you’ll never return to the outside world”. They go there, and a woman named Aurora Miranda sings, dances with a bunch of men, and Donald oogles at her. It is not even a short, just a bunch of bad live action merging with animation and a bunch of dancing.
So Donald opens his final present from Mexico, and the Three Caballeros is established with Panchito (Joaquin Garay) , and they sing the movie title song for a bit which is a nice song. He then tells the story of Las Posadas, which is not really animated, but a bunch of beautiful drawings illustrating the story if a group of kids going door to door to replay the scene of Mary and Joseph and somehow end up bursting pinatas. This is a nice, simple scene, but it is way too short and is interrupted with the obnoxiousness of Donald wanting to join in. They make the bad scenes too long and the good shorts too short.
Mexico: Pátzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco
So the Three Caballeros go to Mexico on a flying carpet, and they soon go on a beach, where Donald lusts over all of the girls. He goes extremely wild and chases after them, creeping them out and trying to cop a feel. His so-called fascination is a gag that got old REALLY fast. Things are so fast and rampant in this scene, it is like I am getting dumber as I type and recollect on the memories. This is BY FAR one of the worst and unappealing shorts in the film. It is a gag gone too long.
You Belong To My Heart
Ugh, this final segment is a hot ass mess. I felt like I was on a psychedelic LSD trip, and my brain was as liquid as water. So Donald is trying to kiss a woman in the sky, he follows it, turns into a bunch of lines, tries to kiss the same girl (but who is in a flower), the girl is singing a lovely song to him, he dances with a country girl, the Caballeros break the animation and start shooting up the place with their annoying voices, and….. TOO MUCH. Film is done like that; no proper conclusion or anything.
Imma lay it down real quick. The Three Caballeros are unlikable as fuck, and I hope Daisy whoops Donald’s ass. The two others constantly tries to hurt and embarrass Donald, and all they do is make a bunch of noise. The human characters don’t have any personality, so…. no comment.
I have seen Disney merge live action with animation before, and it is not merged the best here, It is not horrible, but it is not good as well. The actual animation is still of lower quality, but it is still not horrible. You can still tell that they had no money-making this project.
The music here is better than in Saludos Amigos, but the only standout songs are “The Three Caballeros” and “You Belong to My Heart”. None of the other songs are memorable, but the score is as chaotic as the 2 last thirds of the film (this is in a good way).
Reception at Release
When it was released on December 21, 1944 in Mexico and February 3, 1945 in the US, it received mixed (though seems more negative) reviews. The reviews practically said it lacks substance and it is quantity over quality. They did not like Donald’s weird lust over human women.
It is forgotten like most of the other WW2 package films, but this one has the worst reputation.