The Three Caballeros “The Three Caballeros” (1944)

*note: in the context of this song “gay” means happy/carefree


I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but during the 1940s Disney released a lot of what were called “package films.” While ostensibly released as a single feature, package films actually contained a series of separate animated shorts connected by a plot line. This happened because Disney found themselves with a lot of material that was too long to be regular cartoons and too short to be standalone features. This is how The Three Caballeros came into being. The common thread is that Donald Duck is celebrating his birthday and while opening his presents he learns about Mexico and South America via his friends José Carioca (a Brazilian parrot) and Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III (a Mexican rooster).

Once Panchito joins the party, he leads his friends in singing “The Three Caballeros.” In this song, Panchito praises the life of a caballero and how he is always loyal to his friends (unless there’s a girl involved, in which case forget it!) The rhythm and last verse of this song come from Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes!, a popular Mexican ranchera song released in 1941.

A running gag throughout the song is Donald trying (and failing) to imitate José and Panchito. For example, he flops to the ground when the others fly, and he can’t summon a guitar out of thin air (instead he gets a saxophone, a trumpet, and a double bass).

We’re three caballeros
Three gay caballeros
They say we are birds of a feather
We’re happy amigos
No matter where he goes
The one, two, and three goes
We’re always together

We’re three happy chappies
With snappy serapes
You’ll find us beneath our sombreros
We’re brave and we’ll stay so
We’re bright as a peso
Who says so?
We say so!
The three caballeros


We have the stars to guide us
Guitars here beside us
To play as we go
We sing and we samba
We shout, ¡Ay caramba!
What means “Ay caramba”?
Oh, yes! I don’t know

Through fair and stormy weather
We stand close together
Like books on a shelf
And pals though we may be
When some Latin baby
Says yes, no, or maybe
(wolf whistle)
Each man is for himself!


¡Ay, Jalisco no te rajes!
Me sale del alma
Gritar con color
Abrir todo el pecho
Pa’ echar este grito
¡Qué lindo es Jalisco!
Palabra de honor!

The end of the song made me laugh for years when I was growing up. At the end, when the song has supposedly finished, Panchito keeps right on holding that last note (and truthfully, a well-trained singer can theoretically hold a note indefinitely). José and Donald try everything to make Panchito stop, but nothing affects the rooster, until he appears to shrink away and disappear. Just when the pair think he’s gone though, the rooster reappears with a gigantic piñata!

What do you think about “The Three Caballeros”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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1 thought on “The Three Caballeros “The Three Caballeros” (1944)

  1. Victoria Galan

    As a Hispanic, I have been obsessed with the Three Caballeros since I was a child. I absolutely adore the short films which attempt to tell Hispanic and Latin stories. I also adored the famous Mexican singers and actresses which got to grace the screen thanks to that film. I loved that movie sooo much that I freaked out the 2017 reboot of Ducktales featured an episode with them. A lot of people have condemned it for being racist…but I just can’t see it. It is beautiful, fun, and gave me and my friends some amazing role models to play pretend to (I am the Jose Carioca of my girl group ;D).

    Liked by 1 person


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