Latin Baby ~ Disney’s Latin America Films


interviews and (more) reviews: Walt and El Grupo
August 7, 2008, 11:49 am
Filed under: reviews/opinions, saludos amigos, stories | Tags: , , ,

Today I discovered an interview with Ted Thomas, the director of the previously-mentioned Walt and El Grupo, a new documentary about Walt Disney’s trip to Latin America.

You can read the interview at Jim Hill Media.

I thought I would post some additional reviews of Walt and El Grupo as well, to provide some second opinions.

My review of the film.

Variety’s review (unfavorable)

A fan’s favorable review, posted on the Seattle Int’l Film Festival website.

Favorable review at Prost Amerika. It seems to summarize more than review, but ranks the film 8 out of 10.

Review at Musica Brasiliensis (a great resource for everything related to Brazilian music). The site’s author assisted the filmmakers.

And here’s the official website for the film.



New book about the Latin America films coming soon
July 24, 2008, 11:56 am
Filed under: 3 caballeros, essays, merchandise, saludos amigos

“Fortunately, the Walt Disney Family Foundation has commissioned author J.B. Kaufman, the outstanding Disney historian responsible for books like Walt in Wonderland, to write an extensive book on Walt’s Latin American films…”

(Source: “The Lost Caballero” article at MousePlanet)

As a bit of a preview…..an article of Kaufman’s, “Walt in South America,” can be found at the Walt Disney Family Museum’s website, which also has a large amount of footage and audio related to the Latin America trip.

I’m really looking forward to this book.



“Saludos Amigos” Box Art: A Visual History

This is not nearly as interesting as the history of Three Caballeros box art, seeing as Saludos Amigos has only been released once on its own, and twice as a set with Caballeros.

1.) The 1995 Laserdisc Box Set:

This cover is all right, but it’s clearly representative of Caballeros rather than both films.

2.) The 2000 DVD/VHS:

The full jacket (which was the same for both the VHS and DVD) can be viewed here (large file). I suppose this cover is good enough, but the shininess of it kind of bothers me. I also think putting Goofy front and center isn’t all that great a marketing decision – Donald Duck probably sells a lot more. Jose Carioca’s weird anti-gravity hat is also a strange artistic decision. All and all, I think this cover could have been a lot better, especially considering some of the beautiful artwork this film generated:

By the way….if any of you guys know of any alternate covers other than the ones mentioned here (even if they’re bootlegs), post the image link in your comment!

3.) The 2008 DVD Combo Set:

This is worse than the earlier DVD cover. It’s just a crappy mashup of artwork from both DVDs, utterly ruined by the “2-MOVIE COLLECTION OMG!” bargain banner on the bottom. The text on the box is ugly and too large.

Come on, Disney, you could do so much better…. Think about all the old gorgeous Disney posters from the days of theatrical re-releases. Even some of the re-re-re-releases had nice posters!

Feel free to post your own opinions and ideas concerning box art.  You can also read my post about 3 Caballeros box art.



“The Three Caballeros” Box Art: A Visual History

1.) Rare 1985 Japanese Laserdisc:

(click image for full size. Source: Walt Disney Japanese Laserdiscs)

I like the psychedelic colors of this one, even though the art is a little loopy. It’s quite dynamic and it certainly catches your eye.

One problem – the image on the left on the back of the laserdisc sleeve definitely refers the Tico-tico no Fuba dance, which is from Saludos Amigos, not The 3 Caballeros. These box layout people didn’t do their research.

2.) 1994 Japanese Laserdisc

This had virtually the same box art as the 1995 VHS release…they didn’t even bother to reformat, just slapped it on the cover and put some yellow space around it. (Pictured here)

3.) The 1995 VHS Release

Pretty corny, but it could be far worse. At least this was made before the days of shiny-fied digital “3D art,” which sometimes comes out strangely.

4.) The 1995 Laserdisc Combo Set:

Almost the same as the 1995 VHS release, but more “elegant” to target the highbrow laserdisc machine owner (I hear those things were notoriously expensive). This edition had a ton of extras, and many still haven’t made it onto the DVD releases.

5.) The 2000 VHS/DVD:

This cover is my favorite by far, although the desert-like landscape looks more “Lawrence of Arabia” than “Latin America.” I think this is quite nice, especially when compared to the *other* covers.

6.) The 2008 DVD Combo Set:

I really dislike this one a lot. First of all, it recycles the 2000 box art from the two films; I can’t say the box art for Saludos Amigos was too great, and it’s a shame to see it here, asserting its dominance over the much nicer Caballeros box art. I really can’t stand Jose Carioca’s “anti-gravity” hat here…what were they thinking? They made an effort to incorporate both films into the cover, but what they came up with really stinks. The text is too big and quite unsightly, and I can’t stand the “HEY LOOK BARGAINS 2-FOR-1!” banner on the bottom. I would have rather seen new art….or utilizing some of the amazing poster art from these films.

So, what are your opinions? Which is your favorite? Do you have other ideas?

If anyone has any different bootleg or alternate cover art not mentioned here, post the image links in your comment!

***Additions 6/17/2008 (courtesy of Foxxfur)

Box art for a reel of 8mm film of the “Three Caballeros” song number. I really like this box art! I wish they’d have used this instead of some of the others! The colors/design are a bit off on Panchito, though.

Very grade-school-library-looking….. This is a VHS from the ’80s using box art similar to the ’85 Japanese laserdisc, but without the technicolor rainbow horizon.



The Latin America films in other languages

I enjoy looking at titles (and clips) of films I like in other languages (namely the two I’ve studied, Japanese and Spanish). So naturally, this line of inquiry led to an investigation of the Latin America films and issues in their titling, marketing, and translation. (And besides, I haven’t written a good, long article in ages). For example, how does a film called “Saludos Amigos” work out in countries where no one is familiar with Spanish? And what was the film called in Portugal? What about the songs and character names? Well, this is what the article covers, so keep reading. Continue reading



Review – “Walt and El Grupo”
April 26, 2008, 6:26 pm
Filed under: fan stuff, reviews/opinions, saludos amigos | Tags: , ,

I was able to see the new documentary about Disney’s trip to South America, Walt and El Grupo, so I decided to record some of my impressions here.

First of all, the fact that someone cared enough to make this film about such an obscure little topic is marvelous. Also, the number of people from that time they were able to contact and talk to is pretty impressive. As I said before, the film had the backing of the Walt Disney Family Foundation.

Unfortunately, the film spends a lot of time zooming in and out of three-dimensionalized photos. Too much time, in fact. While these scenes made use of some of the great music, they were ultimately a little annoying. I feel like even with the paucity of material available to the filmmakers, they were stretching the said material a little too far.  The film spends the entire 2 hours-plus running time discussing only Brazil (and only Rio de Janeiro at that), Argentina, and Chile.  Nothing concerning the trip after Chile is discussed at all; the rest of Latin America, Mexico, and The Three Caballeros are completely ignored.

While it is very interesting to hear the stories of those involved and their descendants, I feel that the film spends too much time on talking-head interviews that could have been done in voiceover and they don’t seem to be edited down enough. As a documentary about the trip itself rather than the films that came out of it, it’s pretty good. However, it fails a little in that regard because it completely excludes the artists’ trip to countries other than the “ABC” (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile). While those three were perhaps the most important to Saludos Amigos, I felt disappointed that nothing was said of Mexico.

Very few clips from the films were also shown. I understand that the filmmakers probably didn’t want to repeat material used in Saludos or the “Disney South of the Border” documentary, but the few segments used were easily one of the best parts of the film.  Not to say that the filmmakers’ original material isn’t good – one scene in particular involving clips from Aquarela do Brasil was incredible: zooming out from a shot of the Urca nightclub, the film cuts to a live-action shot of the nightclub today.  Several shots of the inside of the now-abandoned and decaying Urca follow, a ghostly echo of a samba song playing….we briefly glimpse the filmed performance of “Carnaval Carioca” on stage superimposed on the scene, which disappears into silence as we see the rest of the club.

Despite all these complaints, I learned a few new and interesting facts from the film, got to see what many of the places Disney visited look like today, and saw some WONDERFUL shots of production artwork I’d never seen before.  As a big fan of Mary Blair’s work, I was very pleased to see lots of her and her husband’s drawings, and to learn that this trip was what drew Disney’s attention and made him hire her.  However, even as a HUGE fan of the Latin America films, I felt that this documentary was both incomplete and a bit lengthy.  Nonetheless, I would recommend it for those who really love Saludos Amigos.  If you don’t, or if you’ve never seen the film, don’t watch this movie, I don’t think you would appreciate it without having seen Saludos beforehand.



Essays on the 3 Caballeros & Saludos Amigos at Passport2Dreams

tc2.jpgI love Passport2Dreams, Foxxfur writes scholarly essays on Disney utilizing everything from spatial/architectural theory to art analysis to film theory.

And she just wrote on THE THREE CABALLEROS! Hooray!

Read the essay here.