Editor Note: Back in November, I had the total pleasure of meeting The Disney Project’s Keith Gluck for the first time. He was in the early stages of a project (of course) and it was so much fun to geek out about Disney and Christmastime, and get to know each other. It’s totally admirable how much time and passion he puts into the Disney community, and I was so happy when he agreed to write a Love Meter post. (Especially since it was a little out of his comfort zone.) Unsurprisingly, his topic was SO creative and I’m so happy with the finished product. We hope you are too!
Mickey Mouse was introduced to his girl in his very first cartoon. Donald Duck didn’t get that chance until his fifteenth. In the 1937 short Don Donald, he called upon the favor of one Miss Donna Duck. While the two spent the majority of the time fighting (physically, at one point), it appeared that the fiery Donna was being established as the equally fiery Donald’s main squeeze. A few years later she appeared in the short Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940), this time under the name Daisy Duck. While it was unclear if Daisy was a brand new character, the Studio simply changed her name, or she had previously just played a character named Donna, (in a 1951 comic strip Daisy Duck met a female duck named Donna–but that’s another story), what was clear was, Donald was being given a love interest. Daisy returned a year later in 1941’s A Good Time for a Dime (um, what), and later that same year in The Nifty Nineties. Donald had found his girl.
But then, Donald visited Latin America.
The Three Caballeros (1944) isn’t like the typical Disney “package film”. While it does contain several different animated shorts, the film is loosely held together by one story; it’s Donald’s birthday, and part of his celebration entails watching, being apprised of, and experiencing the stories himself. Jose Carioca, the colorful parrot that Donald first met in Saludos Amigos (1942), returns to take part in the festivities. He gives Donald a book about Brazil, and before long they embark on a journey into it (literally), finding themselves in the state of Bahia. The first person they meet is a beautiful (and live-action) woman selling cookies, played by Brazilian entertainer Aurora Miranda. Donald falls in love instantly, and spends the next few minutes trying to steal a kiss. In this early part of the film, Miranda’s beauty seems to be enough to keep Donald’s eyes only on her (this would not be the case later on). Soon when several women appear during the performance of “Os Quindins de Yayá”, Donald pays them no mind. His loyalty, as well as a gift of flowers, earns him his much sought-after kiss.
Donald, now with a taste for human lips, seems to make it his mission for the remainder of the film to plant his bill on as many women as possible. Shortly after we meet Panchito Pistoles, the corybantic rooster from Mexico, the three friends hop aboard a flying sarape and travel to Veracruz. It is there that Donald meets the lovely dancer, Carmen Molina of Mexico. While he is immediately enamoured of her, he doesn’t try to kiss her (yet). Instead he attempts to woo her with the magic of dance, but is eventually pulled away by his two friends, to his great displeasure.
The flying sarape then carries the three birds to Acapulco Beach, and Donald wastes no time “scoping” out his prey. Upon noticing that every single beachgoer happens to be an attractive female, Donald declares, “Oh boy, am I gonna like this place.”
The sarape takes on the persona of a fighter plane, and performs a strafing run over the beach, with Jose’s umbrella and Donald’s fingers acting as the machine guns.
It’s worth noting that Panchito and Jose not only encourage this behavior, but take part in it a little as well. In fact, Panchito is the one who gives Donald the telescope. However Donald is the only one of the three who forcibly tries to kiss most of the women he encounters. When Donald leaps off of the sarape to pursue his goal, Panchito remarks, “Look at the little wolf in duck’s clothings.” The women on the beach toy with Donald by blindfolding him, and play a sort of hide and seek game. He of course takes the opportunity to peek, and begins chasing all of them, not caring which one he catches. When his two friends swoop down and snatch him from the sand, Donald thinks he has finally caught one of them, and the kisses are delivered fast and furiously. Unfortunately, the one he “caught” was his pal Jose.
It’s at this point where the film descends into a series of wacky and colorful sequences, including Mexican singer Dora Luz’s touching performance of “You Belong to my Heart” (who appears basically as a singing head, which doesn’t prevent Donald from trying to kiss her), and the return of Carmen Molina in two more charming dance sequences. And yes, Donald tries to kiss her too.
While Donald may have taken the role of “hopeless romantic” a little too far in this film, it’s hard not to at least admire his determination. After all, what happens in Latina America, stays in Latin America. These days, however, Donald is now a one duck… duck. He’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day with his sweetheart, Daisy.
Feliz Día de San Valentín, el pato loco.