19 of x in animated feature film history
Release: Aug. 24th, 1942
Director: Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, William Roberts
“Set in Latin America, Saludos Amigos is made up of four different segments.
Pedro involves the title character, a small airplane from an airport near Santiago, Chile, engaging in his very first flight. In another segment, American tourist Donald Duck visits Lake Titicaca and meets an obstinate llama. Gaucho Goofy shows American cowboy Goofy getting taken mysteriously to the Argentine pampas to learn the ways of the native gaucho. Aquarela do Brasil (or "Watercolor of Brazil”), the finale, involves brand-new character José Carioca from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, showing Donald Duck around South America.
In early 1941, before U.S. entry into World War II, the United States Department of State commissioned a Disney goodwill tour of South America, intended to lead to a movie to be shown in the US, Central, and South America as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. Disney was chosen for this because several Latin American governments had close ties with Nazi Germany, and the US government wanted to counteract those ties. Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters were popular in Latin America, and Walt Disney acted as ambassador.
The tour, facilitated by Nelson Rockefeller, took Disney and a group of roughly twenty composers, artists, technicians, etc. to South America, mainly to Brazil and Argentina, but also to Chile and Peru. The film itself was given federal loan guarantees, because the Disney studio had over-expanded and was struggling with labor unrest at the time.
The film included live-action sequences featuring modern Latin American cities with skyscrapers and fashionably dressed residents. This surprised many US viewers, and contributed to a changing impression of Latin America. Film historian Alfred Charles Richard Jr. has commented that Saludo Amigos ‘did more to cement a community of interest between peoples of the Americas in a few months than the State Department had in fifty years.’
It garnered positive reviews and was only reissued once, in 1949, when it was shown on a double bill with the first reissue of Dumbo.
The film also inspired Chilean cartoonist René Ríos Boettiger to create Condorito, one of Latin America’s most ubiquitous cartoon characters. Ríos perceived that the character Pedro, a small, incapable airplane, was a slight to Chileans and created a comic that could supposedly rival Disney’s comic characters.“