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Western Animation / The Three Caballeros

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"We're three Caballeros, three gay Caballeros,
They say we are birds of a feather!
We're happy amigos, no matter where he goes,
The one, two, and three goes, we're always together!"

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 seventh 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 was released in Mexico on Donald's 10th anniversary.

The film is an Animated Anthology, although the segments aren't as divided as they are in Saludos Amigos, and flow together with one plotline 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 ("Strange Birds") contains shorts about birds:
    • The Cold-Blooded Penguin is about a Penguin named Pablo, 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.
    • Following 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 Uruguayan boy, 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 Baía, singing two whole songs about how great Baía is and that they should go there (respectively) before they actually go.
  • After leaving Baía, 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 film ends on a bullfight, with Donald playing the bull, Panchito playing the matador, and Jose playing the cheering crowd (yes, all of it). But there is a catch: Donald's bull costume is loaded with firecrackers and other explosives.

The trio would later appear in two stories written by Don Rosa as well as a slew of appearances in the Brazilian comics, a few episodes of House of Mouse and a dark ride at Epcot's Mexico Pavilion, as well as a series called Legend of the Three Caballeros, a third Latin American film that would have introduced a fourth, Cuban Caballero was planned, but never produced. They were also featured in DuckTales (2017).

Not to be confused with ¡Three Amigos! (which actually had "The Three Caballeros" as its working title).

This film provides examples of:

  • 13 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 9. Walt Disney once said that his characters are actors in and of themselves and that the events of films like this are, in a sense, fiction. So we could accept that Donald-the-character's birthday is June 9, and that the Friday the 13th birthday only applies to this 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.
  • Almost Kiss: Donald tries to do this with Dora Luz during his reverie, only for it to be continuously disrupted by José and Panchito. This is actually averted in that they finally do kiss.
  • Anime Accent Absence: The Japanese dub. Toshio Furukawa, while suiting Panchito to a T, sounds no different than in many of his other roles. To make up for this, he has now played noted cowards like Kai Shiden and Ataru Moroboshi as well as a giant chicken.
  • Art Shift: Panchito's introduction starts with a vertical sound wave playing "Ay, Jalisco no te rajes" using the same symmetrical animation technique used in the "Meet the Sound Track" sequence of Fantasia (only one side of the screen was animated and was mirrored for the other side).
  • Ass Kicks You: Donald to Jose in the "Os Quindins De Yayá" sequence.
  • Ass Shove: José does this to Donald with a pair of fireworks during the final bullfight sequence.
  • Attention Whore: Yaya is quite happy to be the only girl in Baía once Donald and Joe get there, reveling in the attention all the men in town give her (let alone the subject of the song). Once the guitarist brings a whole other group of girls for the guys to partake of, she's noticeably angry until Donald presents her with a bouquet.
  • 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.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Panchito and (probably) Jose.
  • Berserk Button: The normally amiable, almost painfully affectionate José rather indignant when his cigar is stolen by the Aracuan.
  • Bilingual Bonus: English, Spanish and Portuguese!
  • Bowdlerise: 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 - except where it doesn't, where the modern-friendly version is "Yes, three caballeros" ("Three brave caballeros" in Legend of the Three Caballeros).note 
  • Bros Before Hoes: Averted gloriously during the titular song that celebrates True Companions but makes one specific exception:
    "Through fair and stormy weather
    We stand close together
    Like books on a shelf
    As pals though we may be
    When some latin baby
    Says yes, no, or maybe
    Each man is for himself!"
  • Bull Seeing Red: While Donald isn't an actual bull, Panchito still plays with this by using a two-sided cape, switching colors when the audience isn't looking and taunting "What's the matter with you? Are you colorblind?"
  • Butt-Monkey: Donald.
  • Celebratory Body Tossing: At Acapulco Beach, Donald gets tossed around on a blanket by some bathing beauties.
  • Characterization Marches On: Donald doesn't seem that annoyed by the Aracuan bird, even finding it's song catchy. This changes once the Aracuan bird starts appearing in Donald's cartoon shorts.
  • Chekhov's Gift: The bull costume, one of the many surprises to emerge from the Piñata.
  • 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.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Both Jose and Panchito, and especially the Aracuan bird.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • As Donald opens the box at the beginning, a snippet of the Saludos Amigos theme song 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.
    • In The Cold-Blooded Penguin sequence, you can hear a snippet of the music from the Lake Titicaca sequence while Pablo was sailing alongside the South American coastline past Lima, Peru.
    • The music that plays while Gauchito is taming the Flying Burro was previously heard in the "Gaucho Goofy" segment of 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.
  • Covered in Kisses: Happens twice to Donald. The first time brought on an abrupt scene change, the second time becomes a full blown Disney Acid Sequence.
  • Company Cross References: In "The Cold-Blooded Penguin", when penguins are seen on the "beach", a toy pail has silhouetted images of Mickey Mouse and Pluto.
  • Crowd Song: "Os Quindins De Yayá" (AKA that song in Baía).
  • Crossdresser: All three Caballeros. During the José's second song, he briefly wears a Carmen Miranda esque costume. After the whole Baía 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.
  • Deranged Animation: Some parts of this film skip being bizarre and practically start off in the freakin' Twilight Zone.
  • Determinator: "... with a tenacity of purpose seldom seen in a penguin."
  • Didn't Think This Through: As the narrator states, Pablo didn't count on his houseboat made of snow and ice to melt as he reaches near his dream island.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Things get a bit trippy at the end, to put it mildly. Arguably, "Donald's Surreal Reverie" is matched in its Disney Acid Sequence-ness only by "Pink Elephants on Parade" and "Heffalumps and Woozles". It gets pretty weird in the middle too, just after Donald and José open the box from Mexico.
  • Dynamic Entry: Panchito enters with a joyful howl and guns blazing in the most dynamic fashion possible.
  • 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.
  • Everything Dances: Towards the end of the Bahia segment, the city starts bouncing like it's made of jelly. Even the moon.
  • Expy: With his red crest, pointy beak, sped up voice and troublemaking personality, the Aracuan bird is clearly meant to be Disney's answer to Woody Woodpecker, though he never became as famous.
  • Fantastic Fireworks: Used to spell out The End.
  • Fat and Skinny: Pablo's goodbye party reduces to just these two. One of Pablo's photos of home has them fishing.
  • Furry Confusion: The look at South American birds has normal birds that are only a little anthromorphised - no more than in, say Dumbo or Sleeping Beauty... and then there's the Aracuan.
    • The film is being watched by Donald Duck.
    • Donald, José, Panchito and the Aracuan are all half-dressed, anthropomorphised birds, but the first three are treated as people, whereas the last is treated as an animal.
    • While José sings about Baía, there are two realistic doves.
  • Gainax Ending: See Disney Acid Sequence.
  • Genki Guy: Both José and Panchito are very hyper and enthusiastic about almost everything, in contrast to Donald's Everyman bemusement. José in particular also has a lot of Keet characteristics to him as well.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: The little gaucho protagonist of The Flying Gauchito dreams of winning a thousand pesos in a racing competition. Whereas his fun-loving winged donkey, Burrito, only cares about exploring the world (and eating) with his new friend. Of course, when their clever ploy is uncovered by the angry crowd they tricked, little gaucho's dream unravels. Burrito happily carries the boy off, both never to be seen again.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: José 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.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The refrain from one of the featured songs is "We're three caballeros, three gay caballeros!" There's also a reference to toucans "making love" during Aves Raras.
  • 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.
    Donald: You're absolutely right.
  • Human Snowball: In The Cold-Blooded Penguin, Pablo freezes solid and falls down a hill, turning into one and bowling through his farewell party.
  • 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.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Donald mimics José's little ritual, he proclaims "Nada aqui nesta manga" as tons of cards pour out of his sleeve.
    • José condescendingly pities Donald for having never been to Bahia before, espousing the romantic beauty of the city, but when Donald finally turns the question back on him, José admits that he's never been, either.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Panchito holds the last note of "The Three Caballeros" theme song for a long time. So long, in fact, that Donald and José attempt to get Panchito to stop holding the note. Hilarity ensues!
  • Inflating Body Gag: After Donald is shrunken down, José shows him how to inflate back to normal by blowing on his index finger. Donald blows on his thumb instead, causing him to inflate in all manner of crazy shapes.
  • Informed Species: Panchito doesn’t look much like a rooster, looking more like the Roadrunner, The Aracuan bird and Woody Woodpecker.
  • Interactive Narrator: The Flying Gauchito. Which is interesting, because the narrator and the Gauchito are the same person.
  • Keet: Panchito.
  • The Last Straw: 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."
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • The Three Caballeros really are birds of a feather, as they are actual birds.
    • In "The Cold-Blooded Penguin", a "blanket of fog rolls in", literally in a blanket shape that started rolled up before unfurling. It's also thick enough to cut with a knife, which Pablo does.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: All three of the boys definitely qualify in this film.
  • Mars Needs Women: Donald and José spend a lot of time lusting after Yaya.
  • Matryoshka Object: The present Donald receives from José and Panchito at the very beginning.
  • Multilingual Song: Several of the songs featured have lyrics in both English and Spanish (or Portuguese, in the case of the Baia sequence). In the film itself, Panchito sings a verse of the title song in Spanish.
  • Multinational Team: American Donald Duck, Brazilian José Carioca, and Mexican Panchito.
  • National Stereotypes: All three Caballeros to some degree:
  • No Name Given: Panchito's name is only given in the opening credits, and none of the official materials mention a last name. As a result, there have been various full names attributed to him. His first comic book appearance gave him the name El Gayo José Francisco Sandro de Lima y la Loma Pancho Allegre (Where "Panchito" is just a nickname), while modern comics (Such as the Don Rosa stories) went with Panchito Pistoles, while the House of Mouse goes with Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González.
  • Overly Long Gag: Panchito holds the last note of the theme song for a good 20 seconds, all the while, Donald and José try various things to stop him, including the classic cutting out the floor around him, only for everything but the segment cutout to fall.
  • Painting the Medium: The Aracuan Bird breaks out of his by coming out of the picture to shake Donald's hand. He later steals José's cigar and runs off the edge of the film with it.
  • Parasol Parachute: José uses his like one.
  • Peculiar Penguin: In the segment "Pablo the Cold-Blooded Penguin", while the other penguins frolic in the cold, Pablo tries to stay next to his stove Smokey Joe, and most of the segment involves him trying to find ways to leave Antarctica, and eventually arrives at the Galapagos, as pictures in this page's image.note 
  • Pegasus: The Flying Gauchito is about a flying donkey.
  • 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. The narrator mentions that this is actually the origin of the 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.
  • Posthumous Narration: "...Neither him nor me was ever seen again as long as we lived!" (Though, yes, it is possible they were heard again. Or, they were never seen or heard in Argentina again.)
  • Praising Shows You Don't Watch: In-Universe example when José sings about how he longs for Baía, even though he admits to having never been there before afterward.
  • The Prankster: The Aracuan Bird, perhaps the best representative of this trope in the Disney canon, who messes around with Donald for his own amusement.
  • Random Events Plot: There's no real storyline except that it's Donald's birthday. Things get... confusing.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: One of Disney's first attempts at blending live action and animation in a feature film. In Baía 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. It should be noted that it had been a while since Walt put live action actors in his animated worlds since the Alice Comedies, so the effect is not entirely seamless, and wouldn't have much of the convincing effect that films like Song of the South or Mary Poppins had.
  • Rule of Funny: One of the few classic Disney films to run almost entirely on it.
  • Self-Duplication: José has this ability, which he uses most prominently during "Have You Been to Baía?".
  • "Setting Off" Song: "Have You Been to Baía?"
  • Sexy Figure Gesture: Panchito makes the hourglass gesture during the titular song, while describing a "latin baby". As he makes the gesture, a silhouette of the woman appears in front of him. The silhouette then walks away from the three friends - hips swinging and beckoning them to follow - and they briefly fight over who gets to chase after her.
  • Shout-Out: In The Cold-Blooded Penguin, Pablo sails past "The Juan Fernandez Islands, where Robinson Crusoe once lived. And still does, apparently..."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The film is full of interesting facts and stories about the geography and culture of Central and South America. The wildlife shows up a couple of times too, though comically portrayed.
    • The ending to The Cold-Blooded Penguin; yes, believe it or not, there are penguins native to the tropical (and volcanic) islands of the Galapagos, though they probably didn't arrive there the same way Pablo did.
  • Show Within a Show: The film reel that introduces Pablo the Penguin, the kid with the flying donkey and the Aracuan Bird.
  • Silly Animal Sound: The Aracuan bird is known for its "peculiar song". Although there is a real-life bird named "Aracua" in South America, it sounds completely different from that.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Panchito offers his telescope so Donald can look at "the hot stuff" in Acapulco. He likes what he sees, making the telescope stiffen to its capacity.
  • "Somewhere" Song: "Baía".
  • Spell My Name With An S: José's name is occasionally rendered as 'Joe' in the Disney+ captions.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Saludos Amigos.
  • Supermodel Strut: The silhouette of a woman with an Impossible Hourglass Figure does a hip-swaying strut when she beckons the protagonists to follow her.
  • Thermal Dissident: In the segment "Pablo the Cold-Blooded Penguin", while the other penguins frolic in the cold, Pablo tries to stay next to his stove Smokey Joe, and most of the segment involves him trying to find ways to leave Antarctica, and eventually arrives at the Galapagos, as pictures in this page's image.note 
  • Those Two Guys: The Fat and Skinny penguins in The Cold-Blooded Penguin.
  • Underestimating Badassery: All the racers and spectators in The Flying Gauchito laugh at little gaucho who brought what appears to be, a small donkey to a major competition. Not releasing his steed is a fabled winged creature with Super-Speed none of the horses even put together, can hold a candle to.
  • Unraveled Entanglement: Donald is watching a film about birds; when it ends, he finds the film has unspooled off the projector and is now wrapped around his feet.
  • Wheel o' Feet: Donald's feet spin this way when he gets moving fast enough. A perfect example is, in the climax, when Donald charges headlong at the bull costume, which is about to explode, and with his head lowered to headbutt position.
  • With Friends Like These...: Jose and Panchito, despite being supposedly good friends of Donald, are surprisingly cruel to him throughout the film. During the titular song, they stomp over him and point guns at his head. Then, while he's trying to hit his Piñata, they pull it out of the way and laugh behind his back as he accidentally hits himself with the bat. Finally, during the final bullfight sequence, Jose lights up Donald's bull costume just to screw with him, then shoves a pair of firecrackers up his ass. Jose and Donald aren't much less violent towards Panchito while he's singing, straight up attempting to murder him repeatedly, in ways that sometimes backfire (such as when they tried to saw the floor out from under him).
  • Zany Cartoon: One of Disney's most cartoony works.
    • With all the notes and comments about the weirdness, let's face it: The Three Caballeros is like FLCL's great-grandfather or something.


Video Example(s):


"You Belong to My Heart"

The entire ending is one big trip, but the sequence with Donald and the singer Carmen Molina is especially bizarre.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisneyAcidSequence

Media sources: