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On April 29, 2008, Disney re-issued The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos in a 2-Movie Classic Caballeros Collection DVD. Offering minimal improvement (mostly aesthetic) over the films' original Gold Collection DVDs, the new disc nonetheless replaces the now-discontinued earlier versions and at the low list price of $19.99. Click here to buy the Classic Caballeros Collection DVD from Amazon.com, click here to read our complete review, or read on for a full critique of Three Caballeros' out-of-print Gold Collection disc.

The Three Caballeros

Theatrical Release: February 3, 1945 / Running Time: 70 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Norman Ferguson

Voice Cast: Sterling Holloway (narrator, "The Cold-Blooded Penguin"), Clarence Nash (Donald Duck), Joaquin Garay (Panchito), José Oliviera (José Carioca), Frank Graham (Narrator), Fred Shields (Narrator), Dora Luz (Herself)

Songs: "You Belong to My Heart" - Dora Luz, "The Three Caballeros", "Baía", "Os Quindins de Yayá", "Mexico"


By Jason Seiver

In 1943, a long chain of ‘package features' that would dominate the rest of the decade began with Saludos Amigos.
An effort to help preserve goodwill between the U.S. and South America, it was a showcase for various animated short subjects. Inexpensive to produce, it made money. Continuing these traits in the movies to follow helped keep the Disney studio alive during the years of World War II.

The Three Caballeros is second of these "meat and potatoes" pictures, as Walt called them, and the last of the Latin-based ones. It has no plot, but rather a frame to set up a series of incoherent segments: Donald Duck gets a giant gift box from Latin America, filled with various treats. A movie projector shows the story of a South Pole Penguin who will do anything to find a warmer spot, and introduces several bird species from South America. A pop-up book about Brazil allows Donald to step inside and visit one of the country's cities with Joe Carioca, a return character from Saludos Amigos. Finally, a magical photo album of Mexico is explored with another character that makes up the trio: an energetic rooster named Panchito.

While the movie's title makes it look like an ensemble, the "Three Caballeros" aren't even complete until the last 3rd of the movie. Therefore, Donald is really the star here, as he gallivants through various environments and chases Latin girls. Joe Carioca and Panchito come off more as sidekicks who fall into the background many times, letting the feisty duck go free on his antics.

Overall, I think Caballeros feels the most fragmented of all the ‘package features'. True, each of them never felt like cohesive wholes, but they usually maintained a feel and tone that was consistent through most of the run time. Caballeros on the other hand, ranges from being like a normal Disney animated cartoon (the sequence with the penguin) to being drastically psychedelic (the entire end sequence). In addition, it drags out most of the segments too long with no point or purpose, other than to meet a goal of 70 minutes. Once it reaches that length, it all comes to an abrupt end. Even when compared to the other features of its kind, the structure is pretty weak.

While problematic at times, the film does have some genuinely fun and even beautiful parts, with lively music – particularly the "Baia" number and catchy title song. The frequent blending of live-action with animation was breakthrough for its time, and still looks pretty great today. The end result has a spark of greatness for sure; it just has some trouble maintaining it.

Released as part of the now discontinued "Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection" line, The Three Caballeros was issued for the first time on DVD in summer 2000. The single disc is held in a standard, white amaray keepcase, with a rebate for previous owners of the title, and a single-page insert that has a chapter listing and advertises other Gold Collection DVDs.

Buy The Three Caballeros from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English, Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 2, 2000
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Properly displayed in its original aspect ratio of approximately 1:33.1, the transfer is reasonably good. There's dust and scratches aplenty, but the boisterous colors look vibrant and well reproduced.
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While it could stand for a restoration to clear out the imperfections, it looks adequate.

Serving as the only option for audio, a 2.0 Mono track is suitable. I doubt that even a 5.1 remix would improve it considerably. The movie doesn't need anything more, and the range and naturalness of the sound is acceptable.

BONUS FEATURES

As with most of the early Gold Collection DVDs, extras are scarce. In addition, The Three Caballeros isn't a very revered film, so expectedly, there's nothing related to the production of the feature here.

Two cartoon shorts make an appearance, relating slightly to the movie's Latin aura. "Don's Fountain of Youth" (6:24) shows Donald playing a prank on his nephews, making them think he's become a baby again, only to get more than he bargained for.
"Pueblo Pluto" (6:46) is the typical Pluto cartoon, with Mickey's dog getting into a contest with another pup over a bone in a desert setting.

Finally, the original 1945 Theatrical Trailer (2:17) makes a welcome addition.

Sneak Peeks are for the "Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection" in general, and the DVD releases of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and The Tigger Movie.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

A zesty, somewhat unique production, The Three Caballeros is a mixed bag that shines in certain places, but lacks in others. In ranking the six ‘package features' in terms of quality, I would probably place it right in the middle. The DVD offers a suitable presentation, and throws in a couple extras to boot. This isn't a title likely to get a major upgrade, so for those who want the movie, I recommend it.

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Related Reviews:
Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros: Classic Caballeros Collection
Dumbo (1941) | Bambi (1942) | Fantasia (1940) | Pinocchio (1940)
Saludos Amigos (1943) | Make Mine Music (1946) | Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
Melody Time (1948) | The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
The Chronological Donald, Volume 1 | It's a Small World of Fun! Volume 1

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Reviewed February 25, 2004.