Released in 1944 (In Mexico, 1945 in the States), The Three Caballeros (Caballero being Spanish for either knight or gentleman, depending on context) is the 7th film in the Disney Animated Canon. A follow-up to Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros once again explores Latin American culture, this time covering Mexico, a country that was left out of Saludos Amigos. The film stars Donald Duck, José Carioca (from Saludos Amigos) and introduces Panchito Pistoles from Mexico, who together make the eponymous Three Caballeros.The film is an Animated Anthology, although the segments aren't as divided as they are in Saludos Amigos, and flow together with one plot line of Donald having received gifts for his birthday:
The film opens with Donald receiving a birthday present from his friends in Latin America. The present contains three smaller parcels. The first one he opens is a film projector. He sets it up, and watches it. The film Aves Raras or "Strange Birds" contains shorts about birds:
The Cold-Blooded Penguin is about a Penguin named Pablo (norelation) who can't stand the cold. After repeated attempts being thwarted by his inability go too far from his house, he decides to just take his house with him on an ice floe. His trip to the Galapagos Islands takes him up the coast of South America, pointing out the various landmarks along the way.
After this short, the film then documents actual birds of South America, introducing the Aracuan and his silly antics.
The Flying Gauchito follows the story of a boy from Uruguay, who catches and befriends a flying donkey, which he names Burrito (which means "little donkey"). Together, the two enter a race.
With this, the film in the projector ends, and music starts coming from one of his other presents. Donald opens it to find a pop-up book on Brazil with his old friend José Carioca inside. José suggests that the two should go to Bahia, singing two whole songs about how great Bahia is and that they should go there (respectively) before they actually go.
After leaving Bahia, Donald unwraps his third present from Mexico which explodes open, releasing various Mexican items and the rooster Panchito. After the three sing the Three Caballeros theme song together, he presents Donald with a Piñata, and explains Las Posadas, the story of a group of Mexican children re-enacting the trek of Mary and Joseph for Christmas.
After breaking the Piñata, Panchito explains the origin of the Eagle on the Mexican flag, and the trio takes a tour of Mexico on a flying sarape.
After this, Panchito explains how even the skies of Mexico City are made of love, at which point, a woman appears in the night sky and begins singing You Belong to my Heart. Entering the picture alone, Donald follows the woman until she eventually kisses him, which causes things to turn into a Disney Acid Sequence, where he then dances with a woman and various cacti.
The movie then ends on a bullfight, with Donald playing the bull, Panchito playing the matador, and Jose playing the cheering crowd (yes, all of it).
The Trio would later appear in two stories written by Don Rosa, a few episodes of The House of Mouse and a dark ride at Epcot's Mexico Pavilion. A Third Latin American film that would have introduced a fourth, Cuban Caballero was planned, but never released.The Three Caballeros has garnered an unusually large fandom for such a relatively obscure film*
Accidental Kiss: When Panchito and José pick up Donald to leave Acapulco, Donald is in the middle of blindfolded bathing beauty chasing, and thus thinking that he's caught one, ends up kissing José. Three kisses and he still can't tell he's kissing a parrot until the blindfold is removed.
Bag of Holding: The Piñata holds a lot of stuff, including the Mexican picture book, which is actually much bigger than the Piñata was in the first place.
Bowdlerisation: You could probably guess that in their modern appearances José no longer smokes cigars and Panchito no longer has two guns that he fires everywhere. Don Rosa's The Magnficent Seven (minus 4) Caballeros at least acknowledges that the two used to have those. The "Gay Caballeros" line remains intact, though.
Bull Seeing Red: While Donald isn't an actual Bull, Panchito still plays with this by using a two-sided cape, switching colours when the audience isn't looking and taunting "What's the matter with you? Are you colour blind?"
Chromatic Arrangement: Donald is blue, José is green, and Panchito is red. All three of them incorporate colours from their respective countries' flags. Panchito is designed to be mostly red specifically so that he'll stand out from the other two. Both Donald and José have already used White and Green (the other colours of the Mexican flag) in their designs.
Cigar Fuse Lighting: Jose Carioca lights the fireworks on Donald Duck's bull costume with his cigar.
Continuity Nod: As Donald opens the box at the beginning of the film, a snippet of the theme song from Saludos Amigos plays. When José meets Donald, his reaction mirrors the one he has in the earlier film - To ramble on in Portuguese before summing it up in a short English phrase. "Or as you Americans say: What's cooking?" Similarly, when Donald asks Joe to "hit him with his boogie beat", Joe does so via a music-generating dance similar to the one he did in Saludos Amigos.
Convection Schmonvection: Pablo's ice floe doesn't start melting until right after he crosses the equator, when it should have melted long before that.
Crowd Song: "Os Quindines De Yaya" (AKA that song in Bahia).
Crossdresser: All three Caballeros. During the José's second song, he briefly wears a Carmen-Miranda-style costume. After the whole Bahia sequence, while Donald is descibing what he likes about it, his appearance changes into a more feminine one when he mentions the women. All three appear in drag (with live-action ladies' legs) during a hallucination. Finally, during the bull fight in the end, Panchito briefly wears his cape like a skirt.
Interestingly, Carmen Miranda's sister is in the film's Brazilian sequence.
The Danza: José is still voiced by José Oliviera, while Professor Holloway (Narrator of ''The Cold-Blooded Penguin) is voiced by Sterling Holloway.
Determinator: "... with a tenacity of purpose seldom seen in a penguin."
"Submitted for your approval, a journey into the mind of a duck as he searches for his Latin American soulmate." *beat* looks confusedly and worriedly at his cigarette "What the hell is in this thing?"
The End: The finale involves a Bullfight with Donald as the bull made out of fireworks. José sets the fireworks off with his cigar, which then spell out "Fin", "Fim" and "The End", highlighting the multiculturalism theme of the movie.
Get On With It Already: José asks Donald if he's been to Bahia 5 times before Donald finally loses his patience as reverses the question, asking if José himself has been to Bahia. He hasn't.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: Joe is continually speaking Portuguese, even though he knows Donald doesn't understand and he'll have to repeat himself in English. Comparatively, Panchito really only utters a few short Spanish interjections.
Guns Akimbo: Panchito loves to fire off those guns of his.
Hello, Nurse!: "She makes cookies my friends! Cookies!" Cookie-making señoritas, bathing beauties, dancing cactus and flower women - this one's got it all!
Here We Go Again: The Cold-Blooded Penguin ends with Pablo showing a desire to make a trip back to Antarctica.
Narrator: (laughs) Never satisfied! That's human nature for you, even if you're a penguin.
Hyperspace Mallet: José's green hammer. He bashes Donald with it to shrink him down to size, then later lends it to Donald so he can use it to bash the orange seller over the head.
Incredible Shrinking Man: José shrinks down Donald in order to enter a pop-up book of Brazil. The size really doesn't really come into play until Donald needs to grow again in order to open his next present.
Interactive Narrator: The Flying Gauchito. Which is interesting, because the narrator and the Gauchito are the same person.
In strictest grammatical terms his given name is probably Pancho, if nothing else is certain ("ito" or "ita" is the diminutive form; the Spanish-language equivalent of calling someone "Jimmy" instead of "Jim" or "James").
Nope. Pancho isn't a name; it's a common nickname for the name "Francisco". So in strictest grammatical terms, his given name is probably Francisco.
Phallic Weapon: Some of the comics more directly address Panchito's apparent need to fire his guns off whenever he's in a good mood.
Pokémon Speak: The Aracuan Bird's crazy song contains its own name.
Portal Picture: Panchito brings with him a picture book of Mexico. They enter the pictures on various pages to visit various places of Mexico. Panchito even zaps the first picture they enter in order to bring it to life.
Random Events Plot: There's no real storyline except that it's Donald's birthday. Things get... confusing.
Real Song Theme Tune: The Three Caballeros theme song uses the same tune as an existing song, Ay Jalisco no te Rajes. In fact, when Panchito begins singing in Spanish, he's actually singing a verse from the original song.
Roger Rabbit Effect: One of Disney's first attempts at blending Live Action and Animation in a feature film. In Bahia and Donald's acid trip, the live action actors are appearing on a mostly animated background. In Panchito's tour of Mexico, the animated Caballeros are in fully live-action settings.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: The card that comes with Donald's birthday gifts gives his Birthday is Friday the 13th, obviously referencing his poor luck. Although this contradicts Donald's canon birthday, which is accepted to be June 9th.
Wafer Thin Mint: The Marrequito's nest, which the narrator explains only looks like it's randomly thrown together, but is really built to withstand anything... until the Aracuan gives the Marrequito a small twig to put onto the pile, which causes the whole thing to fall apart, and causes the narrator to add "Well, almost anything."