Saludos Amigos (RKO-Radio-Disney) is a good-neighborly, Technicolor whimsey that has made Walt Disney one of South America's favorite North Americans. Shown first in South America, the film broke theater records; one audience in Rio de Janeiro screamed so loudly for an encore that another feature had to be halted in mid-reel and Saludos Amigos run off again.
The film has four giddy episodes:
1) Donald Duck's adventures on Lake Titicaca (between Peru and Bolivia); 2) the stormy flight of a young Chilean mail plane named Pedro; 3) Goofy (Disney's canine cowboy) as an Argentine gaucho; 4) a "Water Color of Brazil" that introduces a brand-new Disney character, Jose Carioca, a dapper Brazilian parrot, who is as superior to Donald Duck as the Duck was to Mickey Mouse.
With exciting samba music adapted by Disney's able Musician Charles Wolcott, and incredible bursts of color that flow onto the screen as the film unfolds, Saludos painlessly tells North Americans about South America.
To make the film (and others to come) Disney took 15 of his staffmen on a three-month, 20,000-mile tour of South America. They hobnobbed with artists and musicians, soaked up so much local color that when Saludos appeared, South Americans instantly recognized themselves. He constructed the character of Joe Carioca from thousands of papagaio (parrot) jokes Brazilians told him.
Because their drawings speak an international language, Disney's party had little difficulty making itself understood. But one rainy day Musician Wolcott tried to explain to an Argentine innkeeper that he wanted to borrow an umbrella by drawing one. The innkeeper nodded, soon returned with a broiled steak and mushrooms.
Inside Fighting China (World in Action-United Artists) is an inspiring vision of the birth and march of a new nation. From the filmed happenings of the last eleven years in Asia, able John Grierson, head of Canada's National Film Board, has composed a documentary picture-poem showing how "old coolie-China died and out of the torment of war a great young nation arose."
Beginning with Manchuria, the picture swiftly telescopes the transformation of China's millions into an army. While cities are levelled and as many as a thousand Chinese are killed in a single hour, millions crawl westward along the roads. In the interior mountains they build underground factories, train troops, organize men, women & children to defend their nation. When at length Japan attacks the U.S., U.S. officers go to China to learn from experts how to fight Japs. In China they find "the very pattern of a modern fighting state."
Most thrilling sequence in Inside Fighting China is its picture of the Battle of Taierchwang. The Chinese lie in wait in the hills while the camera hovers over the Japanese columns advancing along the roads below. Then with a roar the Chinese swarm down, utterly smash the Japs.
But Fighting China looks beyond the battle, shows the Chinese building their new nation while they fight. Say the young veterans of New China: "For us, the ten years that are past are but birth pangs of our new-found destiny."