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Walt & El Grupo Website and Review

Walt and El Grupo

The documentary Walt & El Grupo, directed by Ted Thomas, son of animator Frank Thomas, now has a website at WaltandElGrupo.com. The film documents the goodwill tour of South America that Walt Disney and select members of his staff took during 1941. The trip was taken at a turbulent time in history, just as America was entering WWII and smack-dab in the middle of the infamous Disney studio strike. It ultimately helped inspire the studio’s Latin America compilation features: Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.

We’d previously posted a review of the film by Karl Cohen on Cartoon Brew. Yesterday, I ran across a new review by Scott Kirsner of the Cinematech blog. It’s a mixed critique: Kirsner appreciates the film’s “jaunty Latin American soundtrack and its sense of context” but says it ends up “feeling too much like an itinerary-based family slide show.” He adds that “the film suffers from a major personality void,” because none of the eighteen Disney personnel who went on the trip are interviewed in the film (owing to the fact that they’re all deceased). Needless to say, I’m still really looking forward to seeing the film.

  • Chuck R.

    Nice poster! I especially like that photo of Walt.

    I’m looking forward to seeing this, and I hope it covers ground not presented in the bonus material of the various “South-American” DVD’s.

    BTW, Is it accurate to say the tour “helped inspire the studio’s Latin America compilation features” This implies that the films were an afterthought. I thought making features was a major component of the original plan (if Bob Thomas’ book is to be believed)

  • The Three Caballeros is one of my childhood favorites. I actually managed to wear out the VHS we had from watching it so many times. Watching it now the only explanation I can find for the movie is that it is Donald Duck’s stag night, just before getting married to Daisy. What would she say if she found this hidden footage that he keeps hidden in the basement of his drunken horny antics?

  • Ridgecity

    from Donald Duck’s bachelor party to american propaganda, Los Tres Caballeros covers everything! As a mexican, I felt there wasn’t enough Mexico, and as the documentary probably shows, it covers “Mexico for the Tourist from the 30s”

  • I posted in my blog a drawing of Frank Thomas signed by Walt Disney, done at the Disney´s visit to Argentina in the year 1941.


  • Harry

    I’ve seen the film as well. It is hardly a footnote as a film. I didn’t feel the bigger picture context either for the U.S. reason for appealing to Latin America NOR the wish to get Walt out of the country during the strike. It doesn’t talk about the numerous attempts the U.S. tried to deal with this situation before approaching Walt (several times), and his decision to go along. The Disney Studio’s precarious financial situation factored heavily into this.

    As a documentary for animators/animation historians, it’s a brush with a footnote. As a documentary for general audiences, it’s just not that interesting. No one’s looking for “dirt,” but a little more digging and contextual research would have made the whole film clearer.

    I love the idea of this film, although I did not think it was a particularly good film. I did love seeing all the footage though.

  • Joel P. Ritz

    Great film ! Thanks for the memories. The final song, “Aquarela do Brasil ” by Mart’Niala was UNFORGETTABLE ! You just have to release this on DVD . I’d like to be e-mailed when you do release it.

  • Joel P. Ritz

    I am still waiting for the Walt&El Grupo DVD.