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.


“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 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.

Collectible Pins

Sorry I haven’t updated for a while, but I wrote a colossal post here to make up for it ^^;;;

Several pins involving characters from the Latin America films have been manufactured for various occasions. Many of these photos come from and can be bought there. You can click the thumbnails for full-size images.

You can view a complete list (with images) of all the pins featuring the 3 caballeros, Panchito, whatever, by doing a search at

Disney pin designer 1: Hey, what should we use for Mexico?

Disney pin designer 2: Duh, I dunno. How about that parrot? They have parrots in Mexico.

1: Yeah, that’s the ticket!

normal person: Isn’t Panchito from Mexico?

2: Duh, what’s wrong with you? And who’s Panchito?

  • From some pin trading night at Disneyland.
  • For annual passholders to Disneyland. Cute theme, I guess, but Panchito looks a little too excited. Maybe he just walked outta that bar in the background >: )
  • If you scroll down this page, they have a nice one for Mexican Independence Day with a big ol’ Mexican flag and the caballeros.
  • AWESOME one for the 55th anniversary of the 3 Caballeros. (from
  • Apparently, they did a series of state pins once, and Jose Carioca was on the one for New Mexico. NEW MEXICO? Panchito, where are you? He’s not even on a pin!? There’s no excuse for this, Panchito should have been the one for New Mexico.

  • The rest of these wouldn’t let me link to the pictures, but you can see them if you click the links.

“Aquarela do Brasil” (Brazil)

salami-brasilaqua.jpgAs you all know, “Aquarela do Brasil,” or “Brazil” as it’s known in the USA, became popular in the US after it was in “Saludos Amigos.” The song was originally written by Ary Barroso, who contributed many great songs to the world of Brazilian samba. This website offers an interesting look at all the incarnations of “Aquarela do Brasil,” as well as all the translated versions of lyrics that have been offered.

Another film that made this song (in)famous was Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” which uses the English version.

I love this song very much….and have been attempting to learn the lyrics in semi-passable Portuguese…because I really don’t like the English lyrics. >_<

Anyone else who has stories, etc., anything related to the song, comment away!

***Additional tidbit (5/2/08)*** You’ll notice on the sheet music image above that even the font and style of writing of the word “Brazil” were imitated in the Terry Gilliam film.

Also, a high-res image of the sheet music cover can be found here.

Another resemblance – the cover of the Saludos Amigos Decca soundtrack album from the ’40s (click for full size):

About the soundtracks. Free music.

aquarelaDisney has never released soundtracks for Saludos Amigos and The 3 Caballeros that feature the actual tracks from the films. In the 1940s, they released Charles Wolcott versions on official albums (they can be found at and in the 1970s, they released a combo album called “Saludos Amigos” with new (mostly not-very-good) versions of songs from both films. If you want to hear more about the various soundtracks of these two films, you can check out Mousepod’s podcast on both of them, it includes a complete history.

BUT WAIT!!! With an audio capture program, I have obtained a partial version of the Saludos Amigos cut of “Aquarela do Brasil” by Aloysio Oliveira and “Tico Tico no Fubá” Continue reading