Movie Name: Saludos Amigos
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Release Date(s): August 24, 1942 (Brazil)/February 6, 1943 (U.S.)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Journey to South America with the Disney artists as they explore the continent! As Donald explores Lake Titicaca, the mountains, and gets accustom to the llamas, a little plane named Pedro just wants to deliver the mail. Goofy gets the gaucho treatment, and Donald meets his South American cousin Jose Carioca.
Saludos Amigos was the sixth film in Disney’s Animated Classic series and followed Bambi (1942). It was the first in a series of “package” film that carried through World War II. The movie was met with so-so reviews in comparison to Disney’s previous films but nominated for an Oscar for Musical Score, Original Song, and Best Sound Recording. It is usually packaged with its follow-up film The Three Caballeros in a multi-pack.
Saludos Amigos was the result of part of a goodwill tour by the United States government and Disney to help build alliances before World War II. The movie was released in Rio before getting the United States release, and the movie was even supported by U.S. loans to be produced. This kind of shows Disney’s power at the time, and how they were “America’s darling”. It combines animated sequences with live-action sequences and actually feels more like one of Disney’s nature strips than an animated film.
The story is broken up into four parts: Lake Titicaca, Pedro, El Gaucho Goofy, and Aquarela do Brasil.
The short opens with the artists headed to South America and goes into a story of Donald travelling to high altitude Lake Titicaca. In the short, Donald also butts heads with a llama. The episode is short and nice, and I always prefer Donald to Mickey (who is absent throughout this series of South American jaunts).
Pedro tells a story like The Three Bears but with planes. Pedro hopes to be a big mail delivery plane but gets caught in a storm. It is a nice story with great animation, but kind of lacking in substance. I wish it was a bit more developed because Pedro is a great animated character.
El Gaucho Goofy—
This short shows the similarities between an American cowboy (illustrated by Goofy) and the South American gaucho. The segment has been edited due to Goofy smoking a cigarette but unedited version can be found online and the film was restored for Walt & El Grupo.
Aquarela do Brasil—
The final segment looks at the culture Rio de Janeiro and has Donald meeting Jose Carioca and a dance of the samba. I like Jose, but he is better used in The Three Caballeros. This segment is way too short and doesn’t really get into the rich culture of the country. It is nicely animated but lacks a bit of soul (which is ironic since it is kind of about the soul of the continent).
Saludos Amigos is a good experiment, but really doesn’t reach where it needs to. For a showcase of a continent, it doesn’t show much. Disney’s follow-up movie The Three Caballeros (1944) is a bit better, but despite the great animation, both lack the spirit of other early Disney films.