Disney Animated Features
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Release Date: 6 February 1943

Tough times for the Walt Disney Company. World War II was in full swing, and many of the company's animators had been drafted. Money was being conserved for the war effort, and so film revenues decreased. Disney was more-or-less forced to find a way to keep money coming in from their full-length films, but films like Bambi and Pinocchio were too expensive to create during the war.

The solution, such as it was, was to assemble shorter cartoons into a larger animated feature. Fantasia proved that it could be done, but that film had the extra hook of featuring the music. These new films, from Saludos Amigos in 1943 to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad in 1949, were little more than collections of standard Disney shorts.

This first of that series, Saludos Amigos, did have a common thread that connected the shorts. The title is Spanish ("Greetings Friends"), and the segments were, in general, about South America. The segments:

  • "Lake Titicaca," starring Donald Duck and a llama. This perhaps sounds racier than it really was.
  • "Pedro," about a little mail plane
  • "El Gaucho Goofy," a pretty standard Goofy cartoon.
  • "Aquarela do Brasil," Portuguese for "Watercolor of Brazil," wherein Donald's Brazilian cousin José Carioca (a parrot) shows him the sights of his home country.
The segments are interspersed between live-action shots of South America, almost a travelogue.

While not one of Disney's best efforts, it still managed to earn a few Academy Award nominations:

Disney has shown all of the animated segments separately for years, particularly on the Disney Channel, and they are perfectly acceptable works on their own, but Saludos Amigos in no way approaches the quality of the first five Disney Animated Features.

Information for the Disney Animated Features series of nodes comes from the IMDb (www.imdb.com), Frank's Disney Page (http://www.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/~fp/Disney/), and the dark recesses of my own memory. Thanks also to the Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com).

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