The Three Caballeros (1944)

three caballeros poster 1944 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Two stories with a narrative, the Aracuan Bird, historical context

Too many non-narrative stories

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Three Caballeros

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s): Animated/Musical/Family

Release Date(s): December 21, 1944

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

three caballeros jose carioca panchito pistolas donald duck

Take a trip south of the border!

It’s Donald Duck’s birthday, and his friends in Central and South America have sent him presents.  While opening his presents, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistolas decide to give Donald a tour of their home and their customs to help make Donald’s birthday the best ever.

Directed by Norman Ferguson, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, and Harold Young, The Three Caballeros is a Walt Disney live action-animated travel film.  The movie is the seventh movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and follows the release of Saludos Amigos in 1942.  It received Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Recording and Best Musical Scoring.

The Three Caballeros wasn’t very present when I was growing up.  Like Saludos Amigos, the film rarely aired except a possible sequence of bigger Disney shows.  With a motive for its creation, The Three Caballeros remains a bit of a Disney oddity.

The movie (like many of Disney’s World War II films) is mostly composed of short sketches and was part of Disney’s “good will” effort toward South America.  It was an attempt to build alliances during World War II and offer potential travel for tourists as the war raged in Europe.  It has a number of segments blending Donald Duck and the other characters with live action characters and almost newsreel style footage.

The segments break down into these short cartoons (with short transitions between them):

three caballeros the cold blooded penguin pablo

“The Cold-Blooded Penguin”

The first story in the film has a penguin named Pablo tiring of his home of the South Pole and dreaming of his home in the warm waters surrounding the Galapagos Island.  It is a short but nice story that serves as a good lead in and also introduces the initial idea of Donald meeting his “cousins” from South America (aka other birds).

three caballeros the flying gauchito burrito

“The Flying Gauchito”

This is a fun little story of boy in Uruguay who finds a flying donkey (naming him Burrito).  Burrito and the boy enter a race and use Burrito’s wings to win the race.  With this story and the previous story, the younger viewers will find a pretty entertaining, but later sketches might be tough for them to maintain their attention.

three caballeros baia donald duck jose carioca aurora miranda


“Baia” gives Donald a tour of the capital of Bahia, and Donald gets the opportunity to dance with Aurora Miranda (the sister of the legendary Carmen Miranda).  The segment is a combination of animation and live action…something that happens more frequently after this segment.

three caballeros los posadas pinatas

“Las Posadas”

Donald learns the story of the piñata and hears how the children of Mexico celebrate Christmas time.  The art for this short story is interesting and is almost more like a story book (in a very Reading Rainbow sense).

three caballeros mexico patzcuara vera cruz acapulco

“Mexico: Patzcuaro, Vera Cruz, Acapulco”

Pachito takes Donald on a magic carpet ride of Mexico and shows him all the hot spots.  In this segment Donald tries to get some action from all the girls on the beach.  It is a bit odd to see the duck acting this way (especially since they are human women…not animated).

three caballeros you belong to my heart donald duck dora luz

“You Belong to My Heart”

Donald is sung to by Dora Luz and enjoys the skies of Mexico.  By this point, I was kind of bored by my trip to Mexico.  I was also bored by the human/animated interaction and wanted more stories instead of just sequences of no story…it is visually compelling, but it needs something more.

three caballeros donalds surreal reverie

“Donald’s Surreal Reverie”

Donald is tripping on love and this part of the movie is very surreal to end the film with Donald’s bird friends constantly popping up.  It isn’t a strong ending to a film that isn’t very strong.

The Three Caballeros is a pretty weak movie but an improvement over its sister film Saludos Amigos.  The initial start to the film shows promise with some fun stories but it then devolves into a couple animated characters mixed with live action that really doesn’t have much to do with anything.  At this point, Donald Duck is pretty hard to understand with his very “think” Donald Duck way of speaking.  I do like the Aracuan Bird and his fun interjection are quite amusing.  In a historical context, these cultural outreach films are interesting, but as a means of entertainment, they are a bit bland.  Disney followed the release of The Three Caballeros with Make Mine Music in 1946.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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