Saludos Amigos was the first of several anthology-style films released by Disney in the 1940s. It was created as a way to engender friendly feelings between Latin America and the United States, and it was fairly successful in that goal. The U.S. federal government provided backing for the film as well.
While most of the film is animated, it does contain multiple live action segments showing the various animators, composers and others Disney took with him on the trip. It’s interesting watching them sketch and work, and gives a bit of an insight into some of the processes involved in creating an animated work. Despite all the live action shots, it’s considered one of the animated feature films from Disney.
Of the four segments in the film, my favorite by far is “Pedro”, about a young airplane who has to take on the responsibility for delivering the mail from Mendoza, Argentina to his home base in Chile when his father is sick. In addition to the adventure of the flight, it gives us North Americans a little more understanding about just how high some of the passes in the Andes are. I especially liked the characterization of Aconcagua, even though the real mountain looks nothing like in the short.
One of the things which struck me as I watched this short were the similarities between the character design of Pedro and those of Pixar’s Cars and DisneyToon’s Planes. Given how much John Lasseter loves the old Disney works, I wonder if there was any inspiration from this little film?
The two segments involving Donald Duck and Goofy were done in the typical Disney short style from the 1930s and 1940s: there was educational material in the segments, but plenty of gags, too. The final segment, which introduced the dancing Brasilian parrot character of José Carioca, was more educational and focused mostly on Brasil.
Overall, Saludos Amigos was enjoyable, but not more than slightly above average as far as storytelling and holding my interest. It is a fun film, and I’m glad I finally got to see it.
Release Date: August 24, 1942 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (cigar smoking)