During the 1940s, Walt Disney made six anthology films that were made up of shorts exploring certain topics. The first two, Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, were actually commissioned by the U.S government as sort of a goodwill gift towards Latin American nations since World War II was raging, and some of these nations were actually leaning towards the Nazi side. So, they sponsored a research trip for artists and animators, and these two films were the result.
The first, Saludos Amigos, is sort of an animated documentary on some of the wonders of South America. It’s not a great film, the animation is rather cheap (although one of the shorts is rather amazing), it barely even qualifies as a full-length feature in terms of running time, but it is actually pretty fun.
In the first short, we learn about Lake Titicaca and how the people that live there live. We learn about the types of boats they use, about the local market, and about how Llamas can be controlled with flutes. Donald Duck is sort of out tour guide, and, well, that’s it. It’s an entertaining, short, nothing more, and nothing less.
The second short is the most pointless of them all. It’s about a family of planes. Daddy plane delivers the mail. Then there is a mommy and a baby. One day, daddy plane gets sick, and so it is up to the baby to deliver the mail, but there is a strong storm and things get difficult. There is really nothing about this short that is outstanding, other than a few visuals during the storm.
The third one involves Goofy learning of be a gaucho, sort of the Argentinean cousin of the American cowboy. We learn their similarities, about their way of life, etc. It’s the second-best of the shorts, but again, not great.
The best of the bunch, and the one that is actually pretty good is partly an abstract short about the samba, a traditional Brazilian type of music. It’s just a hand painting several things that describe Brazil set to that song that we all know because it has played on Gilliam’s Brazil, WALL-E’s teaser, and many other things. Then Donald Duck comes in again, a the new character of Jose Carioca, a cigar-smoking parrot, and they continue to dance. This is the best short because it is like something that should have been on fantasia. It is about the music and how it makes us feel.
Again, Saludos Amigos is a fun movie, but a huge step down from the previous films.