Review? 1950s – 1967s Disney Classics

The Movies

What Can You Expect?

  • A Post on Each Movie
  • A Summary About The Movie
  • Opinions
  • Fun Facts About the Production, Success and Influence
  • A Ranking out of 10 on How Much I Enjoyed It.
  • A Ranking out of 10 on How It Fairs against other Disney Movies from the     same era.

Bonus:

  • At the end of every Era, a list of My Favourites and Less Favourites.
  • Table of Ratings.
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Review? 1930s – 1949s Disney Classics…The Winners, The Losers and Final Thoughts.

Thoughts on this period…of Disney History

I have to commend the level of art that was really developed during this time. Some of the films produced had such a high level of storytelling and artistic flair that they were truly ground-breaking. Nothing like Fantasia had been done before and I don’t believe anything that good could be achieved again. Fantasia is of its era and timeless. Walt Disney had belief with the direction of what he wanted to achieve. The fact the man was willing to mortgage his house says a lot to me. The fact the company survived the Second War through making packaged films just to keep their animation department alive is resilience!  The level of animation achieved by the artists blows my mind every time. The fact they would film most of the movies in life action and recreate it all through hand drawing. The level of commitment to getting realistic animals for Bambi. This level of devotion to creating timeless films and beautiful scenes is amazing. The fact is whether you hate or love them, they were brave and their films especially Snow White doesn’t feel like an 80-year-old movie. Yes, think about that. Snow White is old and yet its core carries through generations. That scene is Fantasia with Mickey Mouse will be iconic now and for another 50 years. Every generation will cry when Bambi’s mother dies. Without this era, we wouldn’t have the rest. They created some brave movie strives and some timeless pieces. All of these movies whether I like them or not, will each mean something to someone and the legacy of them are untouchable. This era, for me show the drive and passion Walt had for the ideas. The fact he took loss and loss for Pinocchio and Fantasia but still continue. The fact he had lost animators to the war and yet continue to be financially viable for Cinderella and Peter Pan. I respect this era for Disney a lot because it was the beginning and it wasn’t an easy beginning. Today, we know Disney is a powerhouse but I think it shows in this era – that Disney always make the decision to be a powerhouse, to fight and take risks and make magic.

The Scores

MOVIE PERSONAL SCORE ERA SCORE
SNOW WHITE 6.5 / 10 7/10
PINOCCHIO 7/10 8.5/10
FANTASIA 4.5/10 7/10
DUMBO 8.5/10 7/10
BAMBI 9/10 9.5/10
SALUDOS AMIGOS 5/10 5.5/10
THE THREE CABALLEROS 3.5/10 4/10
MAKE MINE MUSIC 4/10 4.5/10
FUN AND FANCY FREE 5/10 5/10
MELODY TIME 4/10 4.5/10
THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR TOAD 1/10 3.5/10

How Did They Die…. By Falling?!

  • The Evil Queen; whose hillside was struck by lightning – Snow White
  • Willie the Giant; whose beanstalk was cut down – Fun and Fancy Free
  • Lumpjaw; who was swept over a waterfall – Fun and Fancy Free

My Favourites of the Era

But Lesh…. we would already know? Oh, you think you know…too bad!

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3.Snow White….

Oh, you thought it would be Pinocchio because I ranked it higher for my personal enjoyment level? Well, this is how I roll. I can like some movies more than others but overall, I flip the table and decide this is how I really like movies. Snow is third because while it is not better than Pinocchio – it has the heart for me. It is my first princess movie. It’s everybody first princess movie. It tells us that grumpy people have soft gooey centres and hey, if there is a girl in the forest maybe dead, she is the love of your life so go kiss her…. ha, nah scratch that.

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2.Dumbo

You probably guess this and you are correct. I love all things with a truly sad story and dorky ears hence my partner.

And my favourite of this ERA….

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1.Bambi

Bambi is a flawless movie; you want to hate it, you remember it being way too long as a kid and you emotionally die every time something happened on screen. For such a movie about nothing, it has a lot to reflect.

My Less Favourites of the Era

I am going straight for the jugular here.

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad

Oh, you tried too hard movie and you left me bored.

The Best of The Era

Now, this is a little different. These are awarded to the films that I think were the best of this era for Disney. You might think you know, but you don’t!

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3.Pinocchio

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2.Snow White

And the best movie from this Disney’s Era. The film I think is their best.

 

 

1.Fantasia

Oh, I know I confused you with all the hate and sleep this movie gives me. But Fantasia is one of a kind. They tried to do it not once, not twice but three times and nothing recaptured the magic that is Fantasia. They created a new sound system just for this movie. It was so expensive just to get this movie to play in the way they envisioned it. It makes kids sit through an hour of classic music and damn right, love it. Props to Fantasia.

Review? The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad

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SPOILERS

What Is It About?

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad are based on two segments. The first is the story The Wind in Willows featuring a wealthy toad. He has gone to the brink of bankruptcy and has his friend badger to have as a bookkeeper.  Toad has recently taken up the pleasure of recklessly driving through the countryside on horse and cart. His friends try to convince him to no avail and Toad falls in love with a motorcar.  To cure him of his mania, his friend put him under house arrest which he escapes, steals a car and is prosecuted with theft. Representing himself, he calls up witness before being betrayed and found guilty. His friend helps him escape and discover the betrayer was working with the original thefts of the car, taking over Toad’s property. Toad and his friends steal the documents and prove his innocence. The second is the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  We met Ichabod Crane, a superstitious dandy arriving in Sleepy Hollow to become the new schoolmaster. His charming nature catches the attention of the village’s woman and the town’s hero bullies him. Ichabod soon becomes interested in Katrina (mostly for her family’s wealth) and competes with the town hero for her heart.  However, Katrina is using Ichabod to make Brom try harder for her affections.  Trying to throw Ichabod off his game, Brom tells the story of the headless horseman who travels every Halloween searching for a head. Ichabod being superstitious is immediately convinced. On his way home from the party, Ichabod is afraid at every noise and discovers upon the Headless Horsemen and tries to run to the bridge he can’t supposedly cross.  Unfortunately, Ichabod disappears without a trace and no one knows what happened to him.

Opinions

Before I decided to watch all the Disney films – I hadn’t see only a handful. It was these six packaged films and the two Winnie the Pooh films. I didn’t expect a lot from these six packaged films, rounded out by this movie. Some did surprise me and I enjoyed elements from each – even those I thought were awful had some redeemable qualities to them. For the Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad – I was really hopeful. The Wind in Willows is a story I know and enjoy. I have seen the story been adapted well in some previous films. I was also hopeful about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Again, another story that has been adapted interesting for TV and movie. Well, I was disappointed.  This is by far, my least favourite of this era. Not for anything offensive or pacing. It is just straight up a chaotic bore. Nothing, absolutely nothing is charming, funny or entertaining about these films. They don’t have redeeming music, good animation and compelling characters.  They were almost too straight laced with these prosperous stories. Neither of these books are boring. They invoke a certain level of whimsical fantasy that neither of these shorts truly capture. The first one is talking animals doing law! The whole thing is so obscene and yet, this film manages to take any charm and kill it. It’s choppy and messy and hard to follow. It is uninteresting. I am just so meh about this film. I remember wanting it to be over from the second it started and every moment felt painstakingly long and drawn out. Very dull.

Fun Facts

  • Based on The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.
  • The last studio packaged films until the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • From 1955, the two parts were separated for the Disneyland television series and then marketed and sold separately home video.

Verdict

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 1/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 3.5/10 for overall era

Review? Melody Time

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SPOILERS

What Is It About?

Melody time is a seven film animated shorts set to various musical numbers; similar to Fantasia and Make Mine Music.  It is the fifth packaged film made during the 1940s by Walt Disney company to keep the animation department financially viable. Starting with Once Upon a Wintertime, we follow two romantic lovers ice skating in December. The man shows off and has a near tragedy only to be rescued. Bumble Boggie is a solitary bumblebee trying to ward of a musical frenzy. The Legend of Johnny Appleseed is the telling of John Chapman going through the mid-western America planting apple trees. Little Toot is about a small tugboat who wants to be like his father, always getting in trouble but redeeming himself by saving a boat. Trees is a poetry recite as we see beautiful animated Trees and the nature surrounding it. Blame it on the Samba is Donald, Jose and Aracuan bird introduced to the pleasures of samba. Pecos Bill is about a famous Texas hero Pecos Bill raised by coyotes and became the biggest and best cowboy ever. We see how he put gold in the mountains, created the rivers and painted the hills. He falls in love with a girl who gets stuck on the moon and explains how the wolves always howl at the moon.

Opinion

The recurring thing I get with Melody Time more so than the two other musical anthology films Disney does is a sense of history. This film features two songs centering around American legends – the first being Johnny Appleseed. When I first watched this film and not being from America, the legend was intriguing so I looked into further.  I think that deserve recognition. When a movie makes you interested in knowing more about the legend it is based upon. The main reason I was intrigued by the Johnny Appleseed part of the film was not the song or the actions, but the one part about being liked within the Native American community.  You may feel I speak out of terms since I’m not American, but the truth is that the history between Americans and Native Americans is not a pretty one. To claim that a pioneer was accepted in their community immediately makes me question the authentic of that claim. I had to know if there was any truth to it especially with the history of the two cultures. These claims always reveal another layer within the relationship between the two groups of people and how their society worked in these times.  The short in Melody time was a little dull, but the legend had enough intrigue to make someone want to pick up a book and learn about the past. The second was Pecos Bill – unlike Johnny Appleseed, this was by far the most outrageous. It claimed he put gold in the mountains, created the rivers and rode a twister. The most insensitive part for me was the part when he chased the Native Americans through the mountains, painting it with their tribal war paint. It was just so outrageous (the first part of the song/short) I struggled to like it and the end slowed the entire pace.  The highlights for me was Trees and Bumble Boogie. Trees was just a beautifully animated sequence – highlight artistic qualities and serenity while Bumble Boogie was hilarious and entertaining. Little Toot, by far, had the best morals of all the shorts. However, overall, out of the three, Melody Time is so average. It excels in a few shorts and everything else is okay. It’s not a bad musical anthology film. It just not particularly rememberable.  However, as each segment started fresh – it doesn’t suffer from heavy middles like some other movies and there is bound to be something everybody will like.

Fun Facts

  • Melody Time was the last feature film to include Donald Duck & Jose Carioca until Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  • Pecos Bill was heavily edit. They cut most of the sequences featuring Bill smoking a cigarette therefore removing the entire tornado riding scene.

Verdict

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 4/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 4.5/10 for overall era

Review? Fun and Fancy Free

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SPOILERS

What Is It About?

Fun and Fancy Free consists of two segments.  The first is Bongo centering around a circus bear who longs for freedom. We see Bongo raised in captivity, performing tricks for the circus and getting treated poorly once he is off stage.  One day on the circus train, passing a forest, Bongo makes an escape and starts living in the woods.  Not use to the conditions, he experience adversity and is emotionally shattered.  However, things look up when he meets a female bear and falls in love, who gets competition from a romantic rival.  Bongo fails to interpret attempt of slapping him as a sign of affection and Lulubelle accidently slaps his rival instead, leading all the bears to celebrate the new couple.  Bongo learns the meaning behind slapping and challenges his competitor, outwitting him until they fall down a waterfall and his rival dies.  The second segment is Mickey and the Beanstalk as retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. The scene is narrated by Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist dummies at a little girl’s birthday party.  We begin the story in Happy Valley, a fertile and lively land kept alive by a singing harp.  Once it is stolen, the land is plagued by drought leaving the citizens in poverty with little food and depression felt wide.  Most are forced to leave the land to avoid starvation with only three left, Mickey, Donald and Goofy sharing one loaf of bread and one single bed.   Donald suffers a hunger induced insanity and tries to kill their pet cow but is stopped in the bids of selling it for more food.  Mickey foolishly trades the cow for magic beans and Donald enraged throws them into the ground.  The beans grow into a beanstalk, carrying the house and occupations towards the sky.  They discover a magical kingdom of enormous size, with a great feast and the harp locked in a small box who claims she was kidnapped by a giant.  Willie the giant enters, displaying powers and captures the hiding heroes.  They try to trick the giant to escape capture but fail and become locked in the box with the harp.  To escape, the harp sings the giant to sleep and steal the key kept by the giant.  They are successful and make it down the beanstalk, cutting it down and the giant falls to his death. It is revealed at the end the giant still looks for mickey and is seen ripping the narrator’s house roof off before going to building to building.

Opinions

Fun and Fancy Free, like the other six packaged films that Disney produced through the 1940s all have interesting production history.  If we didn’t have these films, they wouldn’t have been able to finance Peter Pan, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland and who knows what would have happened to Disney if they hadn’t been able to survive the war. However, on this note, I am torn about Fun and Fancy Free.  I have different opinions on both segments causing me to have a dislike/like relationship with this movie. Let’s start with Bongo – Bongo has a soft melody singing through the entire narration. It is soft and very of the era, causing anyone to watch it to drift to sleep. The first time I watched Bongo, it took so long to get anywhere I was already bored before the story really developed.  What a story! This is the weirdest advocacy for either abuse or consented Dominatrix/Submissive foreplay ever. He lives a miserable life in the circus – only to get his dream and realise it was nothing liked he hoped – only to fall in love with a girl who teaches him to say love with a slap. The whole segment is bizarre and while the message is confusing and weird, you’ll probably won’t make it to the end of this segment to even enjoy it. Not there is much to like about Bongo. It was a bad mistake to have this start the two-part movie, starting off slow before you get to any joy is a bad decision and I doubt many kids would make it through. They’ll likely skip to the bit they really want to see – Mickey Mouse! While the story and animation is fun the live action narration is strange and is told with humour that doesn’t translate through time. It’s awkward and you grind your teeth for every moment you’ll endure. Once you get past this we are launched into such a dreary and depression environment. As someone who has a dark humour I was in laughter during the bread cutting scene of this short. They are in such dire circumstances and the short creates a realistic bleak world that I applaud them on.  When we met the giant, he is both entertaining and naive that you don’t really feel like he is a true villain. Therefore, you never feel his death really feels justified.  There’s a happy ending for both the heroes and this “villain”. I like the mickey short – it is entertaining and contains both catchy tunes with enough whimsy to keep kids entertained. I particularly loved the dark and bleak reality in this movie and they hit a lot of potentially unrealized humour.

The weird things

Slapping – Like I said this movie is either the weirdest advocacy for abuse or consented Dominant/submissive foreplay. The whole you say love with a slap. Express your affection with a slap. If you express your affection to the wrong person, it doesn’t matter society says you are theirs. The fact you can claim someone and if they’re taken it’s okay because you can just try and get them from that person. There is weird relationship standards and ideals floating in this movie. Sure, you can tell kids they are beard but hey remember they’ve been told it’s okay to kiss people who are dead.

The awkward things

The narrator, his dummies and the lonely little girl. This deserves its own section.  While it’s already weird that the girl is celebrating her birthday alone with 1 older man who’s not related to her. Sure, innocent times and everything…. but, the most awkward part is the way this segment intercuts with the animation. You wish it was over before it happened just so you can go back to the bits with Mickey. It is so unnecessary to keep cutting back to the way him and his dummies react to parts of the story and would have been better if he only narrated it instead.

My last thoughts

I have love-hate relationship with this movie. The pacing is strange and clunky. The narration is awkward and the morals are odd but overall, the last part with its charming songs, likable characters facing a bleak situation and overcoming all of this leads to an amusing and charming segment. Skip Bongo and go straight to Mickey and the Beanstalk.

Fun Fact

  • Bongo is based on the tale of “Little Bongo Bear” by Sinclair Lewis.
  • All the packaged films helped finance Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan
  • Originally both films were going to be developed as two separate feature films
  • In 1930s, Mickey Mouse popularity was behind Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Popeye
  • It was suggested at one point that Bongo was a prequel to Dumbo and some of the characters would appear in the film.
  • Fun and Fancy Free was the last time Walt Disney provided the voice for Mickey, only reprising it for the original run of 1955-1959 The Mickey Mouse Club.

Verdict

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 5/10 for overall era

Review? Make Mine Music

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

Make Mine Music is ten different segments set to various types of music. Starting with The Martins and the Coys, we are shown the story of two young lovers from different sides of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Blue Bayou is two egrets flying through the Everglades on a moonlight night.  All The Cats Join In set to jazz tones, showing the youth getting swept away by music. Without You is a ballad of lost love.  Casey At The Bat is the story of an arrogant ballplayer whose cockiness becomes his undoing. Two Silhouettes features ballet dancers moving in silhouettes with animated characters and backgrounds.  Peter and the Wolf is story of Peter hunting a wolf with his animal friends, each character accompanied by a specific musical instrument. After You’ve Gone features six instruments parading throughout a musical playground. Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet tells the story of two hats falling in love, being separated and reuniting.  The last segment is The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met is about a whale who dreams of singing at the Opera.  As legend of the singing whale spreads, a man goes to rescue what he assumed are swallowed opera singers. Upon seeing the whale,  his crew stop him from harpooning the whale and Willie goes onto have a career within the theatre. Eventually, Tetti-Tatti kills Willies and he goes to sing in heaven.

Opinions

It would be easy to say that Make Mine Music is a knock-off Fantasia but it’s not. The two films differ in certain ways which will make the audience be able to appreciate both. Make Mine Music doesn’t have the classical musical influence and instead features animation to different types of songs. Going from soft melodies to the soul of jazz keeps this musical movie fresh and lively unlike Fantasia.  I appreciate the high level of artistry achieved in Fantasia, but in Make Mine Music I found myself more entertained and able to stay awake easier. I liked the jazz segments from this movie the most and was exposed to a lot of songs I hadn’t heard of before.  While Fantasia focus on epic stories with bold  images and animation, Make Mine Music varies in quantity and quality. My biggest issue with Make Mine Music is that some segments feel bloated in comparison to others ,especially Peter and The Wolf. The best shorts by far are Blue Bayou and The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met. The film goes on too long in some bits and can drag before the next segment picks back up the pace. The reason why these film exist has interesting context and makes a mark in history but as an accomplishment for the Disney classic, it is a hit or miss for some people. Kids will enjoy the upbeat vibe of this movie but like the visual more of Fantasia.

The History

During the second world war, much of the Walt Disney staff was drafted into the army and those who remained were called upon to government to make training and propaganda films.  As a result the studio was littered with unfinished story ideas and in order to keep the film division alive, they made six package films. Saludos Amigos, The Three Cabelleros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time and The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr Toad.

Fun Facts

  • Blue Bayou used animation originally intended for Fantasia using Claude Debussy Clair de Lune as the musical piece.
  • The Martins and The Coys had gunplay sequences removed from home media version, only surviving in the PAL home media version
  • Nelson Eddy performed all three male voice for the The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met
  • Make Mine Music was largely unavailable on DVD and VHS.   Only this film and The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr Toad have never had a release on Region 4 DVD in Australia

Verdict

 

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 4/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 4.5/10 for overall era

 

Review? The Three Caballeros

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

The Three Caballeros is about seven segments connected by Donald Duck’s birthday and him receiving three gifts from his friends in  Latin America.  The first gift is a projected showing him Aracuan Bird. The next is a book about Bahia (Baia) where Donald dances the samba and pining for one of the girls. The third is a piñata presented by Panchito and tells Donald the tradition behind the piñata.  The segments start with the Cold-blooded penguin who tells the story of penguin who is fed up of the freezing conditions of the South Pole and decides to leave home for warmer climates. The Flying Gauchito follows the adventures of a little boy from Uruguay and his winged donkey.  Baia is trip though the state of Bahia as Donald and Jose meet locals and dance the samba. Las Posadas is the story of Mexican children is celebrating Christmas and re-enact the story of Jesus.  Patzcurao, Veracruz and Acapulo is a tour of Mexico, the different dance and songs. You belong to my heart shows Donald falling in love with singer Dora Luz. Donald’s Surreal Reverie is Donald going into “love is a drug” sequence. He envision sugar rush colours, flowers and dancing with Carmen Molina. Donald multiples and dances to Jesusita en Chihauha (a song trademark of the Mexican Revolution) before battling a bull on wheels.  Fireworks carry out the ending of the film and shows the different colours of the flags.

Opinions

Unlike Saludos Amigos which was a brief 42 exploration of the South America, The Three Caballeros invites us to enjoy 72 minutes of both Mexico and South America and therefore, I have a little more to say about this movie. It starts off okay and I particularly enjoyed the Cold Blooded Penguin short. This was my favourite segment out of the whole movie, narrated by Sterling Holloway and creates a humourous and light introduction to this movie. The rest unfortunately lacks the interest I had with Saludos Amigos. When we got the live action scenes of South America it was a look into culture of the 1940s but watching this film directly after Saludos Amigos, the shine from those live action scenes disappears. The film is a chaotic mess, switching tones so quickly and both the pistol wearing Panchito and cigar smoking Jose don’t add a lot to this movie. It is a film that tries to capture life and festive feelings. I feel it is a celebration film. As I never watched this as a child, I am sure all the bright colours and upbeat music would have kept my mind busy. However, as an adult, I struggled to make it through this movie.  It had not a lot to offer but the weird and constant jarring affections of Donald with female actresses and singers.

The Weird Things

  • Donald consistently wooing woman – So many of these shorts feature Donald trying to woo woman and failing or being rejected. He is instantly behold by them and tries to charm them. At one stage, being blindfolded and kissing Jose (open bird on bird/male on male kiss!) and then becoming drunk by the imagined kisses before the film collapses into a chaos. I think the ending was the one that really changes a lot of the pacing for the movie and it is so disorganized, you can’t really get any message from it.
  • If the two male birds kissed each other, can we count it as our first on screen same sex kiss? Certain countries had a fit over the addition of a subtle gay character in the live-action Beauty and the Beast but here we have in the 1940s, two male characters kissing. Suppose it’s a joke or a punch line but could I be so hopeful to count it? Yes, yes I can!
  • Stereotypes portrayed in the birds – While the live action moments steer away from it and I can’t pretend to be an expert. I feel the two birds of Jose and Panchito portray stereotypes of the Mexican and the Latin American culture. I imagine the countries would appreciate their countries, people and culture to be open represented on the screen.  But I feel the two bird characters are so on-the-nose in this day and age.
  • The Love is a drug sequence is a drunken, confusion.  I applaud the movie for trying to describe what I can only assume to be the initial lust stage of a relationship, but it is a mess. It portrays a psychedelic experience with the weird and rushed animation.

My Last Thoughts

I enjoyed the first segment of this film but everything else was dull. I appreciate Disney trying to show a different culture and expose Americans to the beauty of Latin America and Mexico. The film is colourful, upbeat and bright to distract kids but lacks substances to make it enjoyable as an adult.

Fun Facts

  • The Bahia sequence was cut from the 1977 theatrical reissue of the film
  • Walt and El Grupo is a documentary film about the making of the Three Caballeros
  • The film was produced as a part of the goodwill tour by Disney.

Verdict

  • Movie will be kept in the DVD collection
  • 3.5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 4/10 for overall era