AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Three Caballeros
Alternate Title: Latino por un dia
Director: Norman Ferguson (Dir)
Release Date:   22 Feb 1945
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Mexico City: 21 Dec 1944; New York opening: 3 Feb 1945
Duration (in mins):   71-72
Duration (in feet):   6,482
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Aurora Miranda (Singer)  
    Carmen Molina (Dancer)  
    Dora Luz (Singer)  
    Sterling Holloway (Professor Holloway, Narrator)  
    Clarence Nash (Voice of Donald Duck)  
    Joaquin Garay (Voice of Panchito)  
    José Oliveira (Voice of Joe Carioca and the Aracuan Bird)  
    Frank Graham (Narrator)  
    Fred Shields (Narrator)  
    Nestor Amaral    
    Almirante    
    Trio Calaveras    
    Ascencio Del Rio Trio    
    Padua Hills Players    

Summary: On his birthday, which is on Friday the thirteenth, Donald Duck receives a large package from his friends in Latin America, and upon opening the box, finds a number of small gifts inside. The first present contains a projector and a reel of film, bearing the title Aves raras (strange birds). The film introduces a penquin named Pablo who lives at the South Pole but longs for a warmer climate. With the help of his friends, Pablo gets his wish and, accompanied by his beloved pot-bellied stove, sails to the Galapagos Islands. The film continues with comic glimpses of exotic birds such as toucans, flamingoes and the crazy Aracuan, whose antics include running out of the frame and off the filmstrip. An old Uruguayan gaucho then narrates the story of yet another "strange bird": a fabulous flying donkey, which the gaucho discovered when he was a young boy. The playful "Burrito" and "Gauchito" become friends despite the donkey's aversion to being ridden, and the boy dreams of making a fortune with his new pal. Gauchito enters Burrito in a race at a grand fiesta, and despite a slow start, the pair easily win with the help of Burrito's wings. When the crowd sees Burrito flying, however, the pals are labeled cheaters and are forced to make a hasty retreat. Donald's next gift is a book bearing the title Brasil , from which emerges his old friend, Brazilian parrot Joe Carioca. Joe asks Donald whether he has ever been to Baía, in Brazil, and when Donald replies that he has not, Joe sings a romantic song describing the area, then takes Donald with him into the book. They visit Baía and listen with rapt attention as a lovely cookie seller sings about her wares. Donald and Joe happily join the vendor and her dancing friends, and Donald is overjoyed when she bestows a kiss upon him in return for a bouquet. Upon leaving the book and returning to Donald's house, the duck and parrot must blow themselves back up to normal size, a task that infuriates Donald. He finally opens his next gift, however, which is labeled México and contains Panchito, a charro rooster. Although they are slightly overwhelmed by their riotous new acquintence, Donald and Joe join Panchito in a rousing rendition of "The Three Caballeros," a song describing their friendship. Panchito gives Donald a piñata, then tells his companions about Las Posadas , a Mexican celebration of Christmas, in which children recreate Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem. Upon being welcomed into a warm home, the children enjoy a feast and a treat-filled piñata. Donald then breaks open his piñata and releases a flood of surprises, including a flying serape on which the three caballeros embark on an aerial tour of Mexico. They visit Patzcuaro, "a fisherman's paradise"; Vera Cruz, where they watch dancers perform the "Lilongo"; and Acapulco, where Donald cavorts with bathing beauties on the beach. In Mexico City, Donald loses himself in a romantic fantasy when a beautiful woman sings "You Belong to My Heart," then attempts to join in as another lovely woman dances the "Zandunga" and the "Jesusita." Joe and Panchito finally rouse Donald from his reverie and engage him in a mock bullfight. The fake bull is stuffed with fireworks, and when Donald butts heads with it, the fireworks explode across the night sky, spelling out "The End" in Spanish, Portuguese and English. 

Production Company: Walt Disney Productions  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Norman Ferguson (Dir)
  Harold Young (Dir Patzcuaro, Veracruz, Acapulco [seq])
  Clyde Geronimi (Seq dir)
  Jack Kinney (Seq dir)
  Bill Roberts (Seq dir)
  Mike Holoboff (Asst seq dir)
  Rusty Jones (Asst seq dir)
  Ted Sebern (Asst seq dir)
  Bee Selck (Asst seq dir)
Producer: Walt Disney (Pres)
  Norman Ferguson (Prod supv)
  Larry Lansburgh (Asst prod supv)
Writer: Homer Brightman (Story)
  Ernest Terrazas (Story)
  Ted Sears (Story)
  Bill Peed (Story)
  Ralph Wright (Story)
  Elmer Plummer (Story)
  Roy Williams (Story)
  William Cottrell (Story)
  Del Connell (Story)
  James Bodrero (Story)
  Joe Grant (Story)
  Dick Huemer (Story)
  Webb Smith (Story)
Photography: Ray Rennahan (Live action seq photog)
Art Direction: Richard F. Irvine (Live action seq art dir)
  Mary Blair (Art supv)
  Kenneth Anderson (Art supv)
  Robert Cormack (Art supv)
Film Editor: Don Halliday (Film ed)
Music: Charles Wolcott (Mus dir)
  Paul J. Smith (Mus dir)
  Edward Plumb (Mus dir)
Sound: C. O. Slyfield (Sd rec)
Special Effects: Ub Iwerks (Process eff)
  Richard Jones (Process tech)
Dance: Billy Daniels (Choreog)
  Aloysio Oliveira (Choreog)
  Carmelita Maracci (Choreog)
Production Misc: Gail Papineau (Tech adv)
  Dan Keefe (Prod mgr)
  John Cutting (Brazilian and Spanish supv)
  Gilberto Souto (Assoc)
  Aloysio Oliveira (Assoc)
  Sidney Fields (Assoc)
  Edmundo Santos (Assoc)
Animation: Ward Kimball (Anim)
  Fred Moore (Anim)
  Eric Larson (Anim)
  John Lounsbery (Anim)
  Les Clark (Anim)
  Milton Kahl (Anim)
  Hal King (Anim)
  Bill Justice (Anim)
  Franklin Thomas (Anim)
  Ollie Johnston (Anim)
  Harvey Toombs (Anim)
  Milt Neil (Anim)
  Bob Carlson (Anim)
  Marvin Woodward (Anim)
  John Sibley (Anim)
  Don Patterson (Anim)
  John Reed (Anim)
  Jack Boyd (Anim)
  Josh Meador (Spec eff anim)
  George Rowley (Spec eff anim)
  Edwin Aardal (Spec eff anim)
  John McManus (Spec eff anim)
  Donald Da Gradi (Layout)
  Yale Gracey (Layout)
  Hugh Hennesy (Layout)
  Herbert Ryman (Layout)
  McLaren Stewart (Layout)
  John Hench (Layout)
  Charles Philippi (Layout)
  Karl Karpé (Layout)
  Lance Nolley (Layout)
  Albert Dempster (Backgrounds)
  Art Riley (Backgrounds)
  Ray Huffine (Backgrounds)
  Don Douglass (Backgrounds)
  Claude Coats (Backgrounds)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col dir)
  Morgan Padelford (Assoc)
  Phil Dike (Col consultant)
Country: United States

Music: "Pandeiro & Flute," music by Benedicto Lacerda; "Jesusita en Chihuahua (The Cactus Polka)" by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto M. Cortázar, adapted by Edward Plumb; "Zandunga," traditional, arranged by Charles Wolcott.
Songs: "The Three Caballeros (Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!)," music by Manuel Esperón, Spanish lyrics by Ernesto M. Cortázar, English lyrics by Ray Gilbert; "Baía (No baixa do sapateiro)," music and Portuguese lyrics by Ary Barroso, English lyrics by Ray Gilbert; "Os quindins de Yayá," music and lyrics by Ary Barroso; "You Belong to My Heart (Solamente una vez)," music and Spanish lyrics by Augustín Lara, English lyrics by Ray Gilbert; "Mexico," music by Charles Wolcott, English lyrics by Ray Gilbert, Spanish lyrics by Edmundo Santos, sung by Carlos Ramirez; "Have You Ever Been to Baía?" music and lyrics by Dorival Cayymi; "Pregoes carioca," music by Joao de Barro, Portuguese lyrics by Carlo Braga; "Lilongo," music and lyrics by "Charro" Gil.
Composer: Joao de Barro
  Ary Barroso
  Carlo Braga
  Dorival Cayymi
  Ernesto M. Cortázar
  Manuel Esperón
  "Charro" Gil
  Ray Gilbert
  Benedicto Lacerda
  Augustín Lara
  Edward Plumb
  Edmundo Santos
  Charles Wolcott

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Walt Disney Productions 28/10/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP13147

PCA NO: 10044
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Children's works
  Children's works
Sub-Genre: Animation
  with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Brazil
  Donald Duck (Cartoon character)
  Gauchos
  Mexico
  South America
 
Subjects (Minor): Beaches
  Birds
  Birthdays
  Books
  Cactus
  Christmas
  Donkeys
  Fireworks
  Flags
  Folk dancing
  Gifts
  Infatuation
  Kisses
  Motion pictures
  Penguins
  Singers
  South Pole
  Trains

Note: The working titles of this film were Surprise Package , Latin for a Day , Latino por un dia , and Let's Go Latin . The names of Panchito, Joe Carioca and Donald Duck, who are "The Three Caballeros," appear onscreen above the title. Norman Ferguson's onscreen credit reads "Production supervision and direction."
       The Three Caballeros was the second entry in the Walt Disney Studio's "Good Neighbor" project, the first of which was the 1943 release Saludos Amigos (see above). According to HR news items, studio records contained in the Walt Disney Archives and information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, The Three Caballeros combines live-action footage shot for the picture and previously developed short cartoons with Latin-American themes. Two of the shorts, "The Flying Gauchito" (or "The Remarkable Donkey") and "The Cold-Blooded Penguin" (or "Pablo Penguin"), were produced simultaneously with Saludos Amigos . "The Flying Gauchito" was based on material that studio artists had gathered in South America during their 1941 trip. After its completion, Disney had planned to release it as part of a series of short cartoons about gauchos, but none of the other shorts were completed.
       In Aug 1942, HR announced that producer Walt Disney was planning to make a film on Mexico, although the news item did not specify whether the film would be a feature or a short, or consist solely of animation. A group of studio artists visited Mexico from late 1942 through early 1943, auditioning Mexican performers and making sketches and paintings to be used as reference material. On 14 Jul 1943, HR noted that production supervisor Norman Ferguson was leading studio artists on another tour of Mexico City to gather Mexican reference materials, which were eventually used for The Three Caballeros . In addition, at the request of the U.S. government, the studio produced a series of non-theatrical shorts, for distribution in Mexico and South America, demonstrating how to combat illiteracy, malnutrition and various diseases. According to an 18 Feb 1945 LAT article, Disney had also intended to produce a third "Latin-American film," entitled Cuban Carnival , but that picture was not produced.
       The Three Caballeros contains a significant amount of live-action footage, which was shot at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, CA. Although Disney had previously combined live-action and animation in both shorts and features, The Three Caballeros marked the first time that they were fully integrated into extended sequences. According to modern sources, for some sequences, the live performers were photographed in front of rear projection of the animated characters, while for other scenes, the live actors were photographed first and the animation was added later. According to HR news items, the live-action footage of the Mexican performers was shot between Apr 1943 and Feb 1944. The last major live-action sequence to be filmed for the production was "Acapulco," which used aerial shots photographed by the second unit in Mexico, but was otherwise filmed in the Disney Studio parking lot. The live shots of the bathing women were filmed in Jan-Feb 1944, then combined with animation of Donald Duck. Although Harold Young is credited onscreen only with direction of the Mexican second unit, studio records indicate that he assisted Ferguson in supervising the "beach" sequence at the studio. Only brief location shots of Mexico, filmed in Patzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapulco by Young, are seen in the finished picture.
       An Aug 1944 HR news item announced that Mexican singer Carlos Ramirez, who was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, was scheduled to "voice the part of one of the caballeros, and sing 'Mexico.'" In the finished film, however, Ramirez only sings "Mexico." The voice of Panchito was provided by Joaquin Garay, who had been signed in Nov 1943, after Disney scouts heard him singing in a San Francisco nightclub, according to a Nov 1943 San Francisco News item. A Sep 1944 article in Popular Science noted that more than one hundred actors were tested before Garay was selected for the part. Studio press materials include Eileen Herrick, Carla Boehm, Marjorie White and Alma Pappas in the film, but their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       Extensive promotion for The Three Caballeros included the appearances of Dora Luz and Carmen and Vicente Molina at celebrations of Mexican Independence Day held in Los Angeles. Special recordings of the film's score were made, in three languages, and distributed worldwide. HR noted in Aug 1944 that over one thousand discs had been pressed for the promotion. Numerous commercial recordings were also made of some of the songs featured in the film. On some of the records, "Os quindins de Yayá," was retitled "Angel-May-Care." In addition, a variation on the samba, called the "Samba-Jonga," which is performed in the film, was promoted by the Dancing Masters of America.
       The world premiere of the film took place under its Spanish title, Los tres caballeros , on 21 Dec 1944 in Mexico City. Carmen Molina and Dora Luz appeared onstage at the premiere. According to a 7 Jun 1945 HR news item, the picture was "doing the biggest business of any feature ever released in the Latin American market" and would gross "in excess of $700,000 in that territory or double the gross" of the Disney Studio's 1938 feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . The Three Caballeros received Academy Award nominations for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound Recording.
       Although the film has not been theatrically re-issued in its original form, as many other Disney animated features have been, the "Flying Gauchito" segment was issued as a separate short in 1955. In 1976, a re-edited, shortened version of the feature was theatrically released. In 1995, the rough animation drawings and soundtrack created for the unfinished "Laughing Gauchito" sequence were used to reconstruct the short for a laserdisc edition of The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos . The unfinished Brazilian short "Caxanga," which was another South American short developed after the 1941 trip, was also reconstructed for the laserdisc. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   16 Dec 1944.   
Commonweal   2 Mar 45   p. 495.
Daily Variety   12 Dec 44   p. 3, 12
Film Daily   15 Dec 44   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Aug 1942.   
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Mar 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 43   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jul 43   p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jul 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jul 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Aug 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Sep 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Oct 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Aug 44   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Aug 44   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Dec 44   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Dec 44   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Dec 44   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Dec 44   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Jan 45   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jan 45   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 45   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Feb 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Feb 45   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Mar 45   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Mar 45   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 45   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Apr 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 45   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   22 May 45   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 45   p. 6.
Los Angeles Examiner   22 Mar 1945.   
Los Angeles Times   18 Feb 45   part III, p. 1, 3
Los Angeles Times   22 Mar 1945.   
Motion Picture Herald   13 Jan 45   p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   18 Nov 44   p. 2186.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   16 Dec 44   p. 2225.
New York Herald Tribune   5 Feb 1945.   
New York Times   12 Sep 1943.   
New York Times   24 Sep 1944.   
New York Times   5 Feb 45   p. 20.
New York Times   11 Feb 1945.   
New Yorker   10 Feb 1945.   
Popular Science   1 Sep 44   pp. 106-111.
The San Francisco News   11 Nov 1943.   
Time   19 Feb 45   pp. 91-92.
Variety   13 Dec 44   p. 8.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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