Monday, August 3, 2015

2 Down, 3 To Go: 'Saludos Amigos' and 'Three Caballeros' To Hit Blu-ray?

It appears that the first two of Walt Disney's animated anthology features are hitting Blu-ray soon...

The films are Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, of course. They need no introduction if you're a Disney fanatic...

According to a "part-time" Disney cast member named Zack Paslay, the two films will arrive on the format sometime soon. His tweet contains the cover artwork, which looks legitimate...

I decided to do some research. No such set is up for pre-order on Amazon, but the artwork did not look fan-made. It looked like official Disney Blu-ray cover artwork, and guess what? It is! It was made by an illustrator who has done Blu-ray cover artwork for Disney in the past. Eric Heintz is his name, and the cover artwork - without the usual Disney Blu-ray blue border and logos - is on his site. Complete with the "2 Movie Collection" text in the font that was used for every other 2 Movie Collection. I mean, if Disney got as far as having cover artwork made, I'm sure a release is indeed happening.

The big question is... When?

It's also possible that this artwork was made a while ago for a planned Saludos Amigos/Three Caballeros Blu-ray that might still be in the works, or might not come.

See I don't want to hold my breath because Disney has been rather weird with physical media as of late. Still not-so-good yes, but we're used to paltry bonus feature platters and picture quality mishaps... Not to mention the near-complete abandonment of 3D Blu-ray...

No, they're just sort of doing stuff. All the major releases hit Blu-ray, some sets are great, others are just there. Pixar produces their own sets, so they're always great and packed to the brim with bonus features. Marvel supplies some good bonuses, but not enough, but they at least still do 3D Blu-rays. (Avengers: Age of Ultron is indeed getting a Blu-ray 3D combo pack.) Disney doesn't give much love to Disney Animation films or their live-action films. That's another rant for another day. Maybe Blu-ray Ultra HD will turn things around, who knows.

So are they going to complete the pre-2016 Disney animated classics collection on Blu-ray? We have five films left after Aladdin's Diamond Edition finally hits in October, including Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. The other three are arguably "bottom of the barrel" titles: Package features Make Mine Music and Melody Time, and the dreaded The Black Cauldron.

In the videocassette and LaserDisc days, The Three Caballeros was actually released very early on, getting released in fall 1982. It continued to get re-issues, notably one in 1987 and another in 1994 for the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection. Saludos Amigos was released uncut on the 1995 LaserDisc of The Three Caballeros, but it didn't get released on VHS until 2000. It was censored when it hit VHS, too. Make Mine Music and Melody Time were also very late in the game releases, both of which hit VHS in 2000 and 1998 respectively... In censored form as well! The Black Cauldron? Disney literally pretended it didn't exist, at least in North America, until finally giving it the home video treatment (VHS only, no LaserDisc) in 1998.

Oddly enough, these five titles were among the first Disney animated features on DVD. In 2000, Disney launched the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection, which housed all of the not-so-bestseller titles. The likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Beauty and the Beast got their special Platinum (now Diamond) Collection editions in the following years, whereas almost everything else? Gold Classic Collection. Saludos Amigos censored, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music censored, Melody Time censored, and The Black Cauldron all hit DVD in 2000.

(Yes, I'm aware of the barebones Limited Issue DVDs Disney released in 1999: Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, et al.)

Blu-ray? Disney went back to their old ways with the format. All five of these features have yet to hit the format, they are the remaining Disney animated features. They once again saved the "lesser" films for last. So, will they give them all a release?

Since the cover artwork is done for Saludos Amigos/The Three Caballeros 2-Movie Collection, I'd say that it arrives sometime this coming winter, March at the latest. It's probably too late to pencil in a September/October release date, though anything is possible. My big question is, will Saludos Amigos be uncut? The only place where you can view it uncut is on the Walt & El Grupo DVD. What was cut from that super-short film? Four seconds of Goofy smoking was snipped. I'm sure Walt & El Grupo itself won't be on this set, but Disney has surprised in the recent years, for the Fun & Fancy Free/Ichabod & Mr. Toad 2-Movie Collection has The Reluctant Dragon on it! The full 1941 "tour of the Walt Disney Studios" film, not the short film!

My other big question... Will The Three Caballeros finally be done justice, picture quality-wise? I sure hope so, the print that TCM showed months ago looked pretty good. The film is one of the most surreal and colorful of the Disney animated films, so it deserves one hell of a transfer for the Blu-ray!

Now that leaves the other three. The Black Cauldron turned 30 last month, and Disney is showing it as part of a Halloween-themed event at El Capitan Theatre this fall. Will the Blu-ray show up in October? November perhaps? Or next spring? I'm sure it'll get a release, because it got a DVD re-issue in 2010. I'm sure that the Blu-ray will just be an update of that set, same artwork and bonus features and all.

Make Mine Music and Melody Time, to my understanding, were among the least-selling of the animated features, so I assume those will definitely be last no matter what happens. The other problem is that they are plagued with censorship issues.

Make Mine Music was butchered for its first and only American home video release, Disney cut out an entire segment from the omnibus film, the 'Martins & the Coys' segment that actually opened the picture! Based on the actual Hatfield and McCoy family feud in the South, the sequence opens up with people shooting each other, and their angels (and there were a lot of them) float up to heaven. Yes it's violent, but comically violent. Maybe it is too much for most 3-year-olds, but this is a Walt Disney film. It's not toddler fodder. An obviously non-graphic shot of a bare breast from the 'All The Cats Join In' segment was also altered. The only way Americans could see the whole film uncut was via tapings of the film's early 90s Disney Channel broadcast or the Japanese LaserDisc from the mid 1980s. Why they didn't release it uncut as a Walt Disney Treasures exclusive is beyond me. Melody Time's edits? Anything with cigarettes in the 'Pecos Bill' segment was removed.

If TCM is to show both films, I reckon they'll show them uncut, for the 'Treasures from the Disney Vault' block is definitely aimed at adults and film aficionados.

Here's my prediction, working off what did Disney in 2013 and 2014...

Saludos Amigos/Three Caballeros 2-Movie Collection and The Black Cauldron hit sometime in March... Alongside A Goofy Movie as well...

Before or sometime after this, TCM shows Make Mine Music and Melody Time uncut...

Both of those films are released uncut on Blu-ray - as a 2-Movie Collection - in June...

I hope this happens, what do you think will happen?


  1. EXTREMELY HUGE pipe dream, but since UHD Blu-Rays will come out at the end of the year, or early 2016, it would be best if Disney would wait out a bit, then release the rest of the library on the new format and on regular Blu-Ray at the same time. But again, not a single chance that this will happen.

  2. It's a real shame about what happened to "Make Mine Music". Rather than censor it to fit in with their kid-friendly image (and when, anyway, did Disney become so obsessed with that image?), they should have simply had it re-rated PG or even maybe even PG-13.

    1. PG sounds about right. It still surprises me that the MPAA doesn't re-rate the classics with smoking scenes, but it seems like they only re-rate films that are theatrically re-released. ('The Wizard of Oz', for example.) Disney, I believe, became so obsessed with such an image when the Eisner brigade began to get out of hand in the mid-to-late 90s. I'm still wondering why both films weren't released uncensored in the Walt Disney Treasures line years ago.

  3. It's a real shame how the package films never got the recognition and attention they deserved. Why won't Disney give the "Vault Treatment" to every single film in their Animated Canon?

  4. it says 2 movie collection twice on the cover, DA Disney Don't Do that.....looks like a fan made but GOOD fan made to me.