“The Three Caballeros is plotted as a series of self-contained segments, strung together by the device of Donald Duck opening birthday gifts from his Latin American friends. The film was produced as part of the studio’s good will message for South America.
Donald is joined by old friend José Carioca, the cigar-smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos (1942) representing Brazil, and later makes a new friend in the persona of pistol-packing rooster Panchito Pistoles, representing Mexico.
The animated segments include: the story of Pablo, a chronically cold penguin who leaves Antarctica for warmer shores; a Uruguayan boy and his flying “burrito” (little donkey); a trip through Baía, Brazil; and the titular Three Caballeros song.
Most critics were relatively perplexed by the ‘technological razzle-dazzle’ of the film, thinking that, ‘it displayed more flash than substance, more technique than artistry.’ Other reviewers were taken aback by the sexual dynamics of the film, particularly the idea of Donald Duck lusting towards flesh-and-blood women. As The New Yorker put it in a negative review of the film, such a concept ‘is one of those things that might disconcert less squeamish authorities than the Hays office.’
The music for the title song is the Mexican folk standard “Ay, Jalisco, No Te Rajes.” Panchito sings some of the original lyrics just before making his entrance and again at the end of the musical number.
Clarence Nash––the voice of Donald Duck––also lends his voice in the Spanish-dubbed version, giving Donald a charming American accent that complements José Carioca’s Brazilian and Panchito’s Northern Mexican ones.”