Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Three Caballeros - Disney's Psychedelic Masterpiece

Of all great Disney cartoons produced in the studio's golden era, one film that seems to have been overlooked is the short latin American flavoured feature, The Three Caballeros - a phantasmagorial feast for the eyes.

Premiered in Mexico City on December 21 1944, The Three Caballeros (week 34) was Disney's second latin American-focused feature, the first being Saludos Amigos!. (week 18) Made at the request of the US Government to create goodwill amongst its Latin American neighbours, it was directed by Norm Ferguson and featured four short films on Latin America combining live-action and animation. The movie was linked by a story revolving round Donald Duck's birthday and his Latin American amigos, José Carioca, the parrot (previously seen in Saludos Amigos!), and Panchito, the Mexican charro rooster.

The breathtaking psychedelic scenes featured a number of popular Latin American stars of the era, including the beautiful Aurora Miranda (sister of Carmen Miranda), Dora Luz, and dancer Carmen Molina. The animated/live action sequences were filmed using a combination of front and back projection. One stunning set piece takes place in Baia with Aurora Miranda singing Os Quindines de Ya Ya against an animated background where her suitors turn into er...fighting cocks and houses dance to the exotic latin rhythms. In another trippy sequence for Jesusita, Carmen Molina dances with giant cacti! However, there's no way to accurately describe the sheer wierdness of the scene for Donald's Surreal Reverie. So it's no surprise then that people flocked to the 1977 theatrical re-release possibly under the influence of some exotic jazz tobacco!

The Three Caballeros was nominated for two Academy Awards® -Best Sound (C. O. Slyfield) and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture (Edward H. Plumb, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott).

The Region 1 DVD release is available to purchase here while the Region 2 version can be obtained here If you have to own two classic Disney movies demonstrating the studio's creative juices in full flow, one of them arguably should be Pinocchio for far too many good reasons to explain here and of course The Three Caballeros.

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