The footage of the team boarding the plane was staged after the trip when the decision was made to use home-movie footage as linking material. Disney realized they had no footage of the real boarding, so everyone dressed in the same outfits they left with and shot footage of them leaving the studio and going into the plane.
Chilean cartoonist René Ríos Boettiger a.k.a. "Pepo" was dissatisfied with Pedro the Airplane. He wanted a character that could be seen in the same league as Donald Duck and José Carioca. As a "response" to the film, in 1949 he created his most famous character: "Condorito", an anthropomorphic condor (this type of bird can actually be seen in the film's segment). He became one of the most popular comic strip characters around the world.
This was the first of the Disney "package films," in which several animated shorts were grouped together to form a full-length movie. The shorts in this movie were originally intended to be released separately, but were combined when it was decided that each short would only appeal to the people whose country it depicted. Footage of the Disney team on location in South America was used as the framing sequence around the original shorts.
The segment "El Gaucho Goofy" was edited before being released on DVD. In the original film just before Goofy is whisked off to South America he is a cowboy sitting on his horse. He lights a cigarette and takes one puff before being yanked into the air. Because of the smoking controversy Disney deleted this small section.
The film "Saludos Amigos" (1942) was conceived as Disney's effort to support the then-current Good Neighbor policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. From 1898 to 1934, the United States military, particularly the United States Marine Corps, was involved in the so-called Banana Wars. The term includes a series of military campaigns, police actions, political interventions, and military occupations of Latin American countries and areas, fought to advance American political and financial interests. In 1933, the new government of Roosevelt promised to end the Wars, start a policy of military non-intervention in Latin America, and advance efforts to improve relations. The American occupation of Nicaragua ended in 1933 and that of Haiti in 1934, in each case with the withdrawal of American forces. The Wars ended and Roosevelt did try to improve relations with the Latin American countries. He also started efforts to promote American culture in Latin America, and Latin American culture in the United States. In 1941, Roosevelt created the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, to further advance his goals. The mission of the OCIAA was cultural diplomacy, promoting hemispheric solidarity, and countering the growing influence of the Axis powers in Latin America. The OCIAA's Motion Picture Division worked with the Hollywood studios to create films which incorporated Latin American stars and content. They were intended to play a double role in the effort, to both educate the American public about Latin America and to increase the appeal of American films in Latin America. Walt Disney was one of several filmmakers recruited by OCIAA's Motion Picture Division.
While the film's animated sequences were well-received at the time and still have a decent reputation, film historians have suggested that it was the film's live-action documentary sequences which had the most impact on American culture. They featuring footage of modern Latin American cities with skyscrapers and fashionably dressed residents. This went against the then-current perception of the American audience that Latin America was a culturally backwards area, predominately rural, and mostly inhabited by poorly-dressed peasants. The film is credited with helping change the American perception of Latin America and its inhabitants.
While well received by both American and Latin American at the time of its release, the critical reception of the film in both areas has always been decidedly mixed. Over the decades critics, film historians, and various writers have seen it in different lights and described it in different ways. It has been both been described an as interesting introduction to Latin America and as a boring film version of a travel brochure, it has both been praised for dispelling negative stereotypes and condemned for propagating them, it has both been seen as a genuine reflection of Latin American culture and music and as a work that relies on exoticism and American fascination with it. The intentions behind its creation have also been questioned, with some seeing it as a product of cultural diplomacy and others as a work of propaganda.
The mountain Acongagua and the perils to airplanes passing it figure prominently in the "Pedro" segment. This was actually based on the impressions the Disney staff had of the mountain. According to the recollections of Bill Cottrell, when the Disney staff took a flight from Mendoza to Santiago, their plane passed by the "impressive" mountain. They observed the remains of a plane which had crashed on the mountain, nose down in the snow. They started working on a story based on it.
This film is the first appearance of José Carioca. He would go on to co-star in "The Three Caballeros" (1944) and the "Blame It on the Samba" segment of "Melody Time" (1948). He was adapted to the Disney comics in 1942. In Brazil, he is a very popular character, headlines his own series, and has developed his own supporting cast. In the United States, Italy, and other countries which produce Disney comics, José typically either co-stars with Donald or plays a supporting role in stories headlined by other characters. Either way, José is considered one of Disney's classic characters and has his fans.
The name "José", part of the name of José Carioca, is the version of the name "Joseph" used in Spanish and Portuguese. It is spelled the same in both languages, though there are differences in pronunciation.
The name of José Carioca is typically rendered Zé Carioca in Brazil. "Zé" is a diminutive form of José. The English equivalent in "Joe". In the Netherlands, where several of the European Disney comics originate, his name is typically rendered "Joe Carioca".
The last "Carioca", used by José Carioca, derives from the demonym "carioca". It means that someone or something originates from the city of Rio de Janeiro. Rio served as the capital of Brazil from its independence in 1822 to 1960. It remains one of Brazil's major cities, and only São Paulo has a larger population.
Several familiar Disney characters have superhero identities in the comic books, with stories featuring them ranging from relatively serious superhero adventures to outright parodies. José Carioca's superhero identity is called Morcego Verde (the Green Bat) and is party based on Batman.
This is one of five Disney animated feature films to include Donald Duck in a starring or co-starring role. The other four are "The Three Caballeros" (1944), "Fun and Fancy Free" (1947), "Melody Time" (1948), and "Fantasia 2000" (1999).
This film is one of five Disney feature films to feature Goofy in a major role. The other four are "The Reluctant Dragon" (1941), "Fun and Fancy Free", "A Goofy Movie" (1995), and the video film "An Extremely Goofy Movie" (2000).
The man credited with the idea of sending Walt Disney and his staff on a tour of South America was the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979). Without him "Saludos Amigos" would not exist. Rockefeller would later become an influential politician, reaching his highest office as Vice President of the United States from 1974 to 1977.
Due to ongoing financial problems, the Disney studio could neither finance the production of "Saludos Amigos" (1942) alone nor secure much funding. But since the American government was interested in the creation of this film, the studio received federal loan guarantees.
Lake Titicaca, which is featured in its own segment, is politically divided between Bolivia and Peru. It is a large, deep lake in the Andes. It covers an area of 8,372 square kilometers (3,232 square miles). By volume of water, it is the largest lake in South America. By area covered it is considered the 18th largest lake in the world.
The segment which has Donald Duck visiting Lake Titicaca is probably the earliest story which has Donald visiting the Andes. In 1949, Donald starred in the comic book story "Lost in the Andes!", which is considered one of his best stories. Due to its popularity, the story has received sequels, and inspired several other stories. The Andes have become a popular setting for Donald stories.
The llama, a species featured in the "Lake Titicaca" segment, is a domesticated South American camelid. It is widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since pre-Hispanic times.Closely related species include the South American species of the vicuña, the guanaco, and the alpaca. The four species can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. More distant relatives from other continents include the dromedary (also known as Arabian camel), the Bactrian camel, and the Wild Bactrian camel. The common ancestors of all seven species were prehistoric species native to North America, but only the lineages which migrated to South America and Asia survived.
The segment "Pedro" ends in a supposedly humorous note. Both flights featured in the segment and the perils involved are supposedly to transport important mail. At the end it is revealed that it was all for nothing, since Pedro risked his life to transport only an insignificant postcard.
The postcard in the segment "Pedro" is addressed to Jorge Délano. This is not a random name. Jorge "Coke" Délano Frederick (1895-1980), commonly known as just Jorge Délano was a prominent Chilean cartoonist, and filmmaker. He met Walt Disney during his visits to the United States and was instrumental in bringing Disney and his staff to Chile during their South American tour.
The character Pedro, an anthropomorphic mail plane, is meant to represent his native Chile in the film. He is young, small, and inexperienced but does bravely face the elements to successfully complete his mission. However, some Chileans such as cartoonist René Ríos Boettiger (1911-2000), perceived Pedro as an overly weak and frail representation of their country. Finding the film rather insulting.
Pedro the anthropomorphic mail plane was adapted to the Disney comics in 1942. However, he was never a major character. His major appearances to date include a 1952 solo story and four different crossovers with Dumbo, published in 1949, 1969, 1970, and 1977. Most of his other appearances are cameos and inclusions in large groups of characters.
The character Pedro is not considered among Disney's more memorable or profitable characters. However he might be influential. He is animation's first anthropomorphic airplane protagonist. The idea of anthropomorphic planes was revisited in the later Disney film "Planes" (2013).
The segment "Aquarela do Brasil" is apparently named after the 1939 song of the same name, written by Ary Barroso (1903-1964). It is featured in the segment. Its name means "Watercolor of Brazil" and refers to a watercolor painting.
The film is credited with popularizing the song "Aquarela do Brasil" (1939) by Ary Barroso (1903-1964) and introducing it to an international audience. While the song had been performed before, it was somewhat obscure in its native Brazil and unknown outside. Following the film it became an international hit and is now considered among the most famous Brazilean songs.
The segment "Aquarela do Brasil" contains an early use of the music piece "Tico-Tico no Fubá" (1917) by Zequinha de Abreu (1880-1935). A few years later, the piece became a major hit in the United States when it was accompanied with lyrics. Both a 1944 cover by Ethel Smith and a 1947 cover by Carmen Miranda charted highly and sold well.
The segment "Aquarela do Brasil" reportedly started as a combination of ideas from different members of the staff of the studio. Artist Mary Blair was inspired by her visit to Rio de Janeiro to create watercolor paintings of the city. They were reportedly visually stunning and fit to use in a film, but too abstract to base a story on them. Meanwhile, part of the story crew wanted to develop another Donald Duck story, and other artists were developing character designs based on a trained Brazilian parrot called Sonia. All three concepts were used in the segment, with Blair's watercolors as the basis for the scenery, Donald as a co-star, and the parrot designs used for co-star José Carioca.
The inspiration to use a parrot character in the film came from an actual Brazilian parrot. She was called Sonia and was performing in Rio de Janeiro, singing, dancing, and talking in Portuguese. The character designs of José Carioca. Sonia has a cameo in the film, though left unnamed.
The film contains only four segments, but the Disney staff actually developed ideas for several more. Many had to be discarded entirely, while others served as the basis of "The Three Caballeros" (1944) and the "Blame it on the Samba" segment of "Melody Time" (1948).
Disney staffer Jim Bodrero was reportedly fascinated with the idea of using a little gaucho as a character in "Saludos Amigos". He worked on enough scenarios to develop not one but an entire series of shorts based on the character. None were used in the film. One of them was developed as "The Flying Gauchito" and was later used in "The Three Caballeros", while another called "The Laughing Gaucho" briefly went into production before the project plug was pulled.
One of the ideas for use in the film was to create a segment called ""A Brazilian Symphony: Caxanga". It was going to be based on a Brazilian matchbox game called caxanga. The segment was going to co-star Donald Duck, José Carioca, and Goofy. It would focus on Donald's attempts to master this "complex, nerve-wracking game". This segment actually went into production under Wilfred Jackson, but was terminated early.
The concept of "The Flying Gauchito" was originally suggested for "Saludos Amigos", but rejected. The story's intended setting was Argentina and this was one of the main reasons it was rejected. The film already had an Argentine-based segment in "El Gaucho Goofy", and a second one was thought to be superfluous. It was later used in "The Three Caballeros" (1944).
The segment "El Gaucho Goofy" starts with Goofy as an American cowboy, before being transplanted to Argentina. The idea of Goofy as a cowboy and some elements of his depiction came from an unfinished Disney short. Jack Kinney and Ralph Wright had been working for a while on a cowboy-themed Goofy short, with the working title "How to Be a Cowboy". The project was never finished but some of its material were re-used for "El Gaucho Goofy".
Pedro, the anthropomorphic airplane of the film, was not initially created for this film. The story concept behind him was developed by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer for an unrelated project. The original idea was that the character would be Irish and have the name "Petey O'Toole".
"El Gaucho Goofy" supposedly aims to familiarize American audiences with gaucho culture and life. However, the term "gaucho" and some of the elements used were hardly new to American audiences. The silent film "The Gaucho" (1927), starring Douglas Fairbanks, was a hit and introduced various gaucho-related tropes to American popular culture.
"El Gaucho Goofy" contrasts the American cowboy and the Argentinian gaucho. These two professions and associated character types are related but not unique. They are manifestations of once wider-spread horsemen and cattle-herder cultures. Close equivalents are the Australian stockman, Chilean huaso, Colombian and Venezuelan llanero, Hawaiian paniolo, Mexican charro, and Spanish and Mexican vaquero.
The bird Goofy the gaucho pursues is typically described as an ostrich. Ostrichs, however, are native to Africa only. The bird depicted is the rhea, a South American relative of the ostrich. The gaucho people traditionally hunt rheas on horseback, throwing bolas or boleadoras at their legs which immobilize the bird.
The concept of "El Gaucho Goofy" likely derives from the sub-series "How to..." of the Goofy series of animated shorts. In these series, Goofy receives instructions from an unseen narrator on how to perform an activity and then fails in spectacular ways. The first of them was "How to Ride a Horse" (1941), released a year before "Saludos Amigos".
The name "Pedro", used by the anthropomorphic mail plane, is the Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician version of the Latin name "Petrus". The English version of the same name is "Peter". They derive from the Greek name "Petros", which first appears in the New Testament. Petros itself is derivative of the Greek term "petra" ("rock", "stone").