May 13, 2018 posted by James Parten

Brazilian Pop In “The Three Caballeros”

If Saludos Amigos soaked its tootsies in Brazilian culture and music – and did so quite well, mind you – The Three Caballeros dove in at what had to be, at the very least, the middle of the pool.

While the Mexican tunes used in these pictures were, for the most part, of the “folkloric” variety, the Brazilian tunes featured were part of Brazil’s analogue to our “Tin Pan Alley”–published “popular” songs, sometimes taken from revues or other stage presentations.

It is indeed possible that, having heard some of these tuneful ditties, Disney–or others among “El Grupo”–might have asked somebody down in Rio de Janeiro to keep them posted on what the biggest hit songs coming up were.

Besides the two songs that would be featured in Saludos Amigos, three other Brazilian pop songs were also featured in The Three Caballeros.

Of these, the oldest was “Na Baixa do Sapateiro”–which translates out, loosely, as “Shoemaker’s Hollow”. We know it better as “Baia”–a title derived from one of the song’s “hooks”–the chant of “Oh, Bahia-ya!” that opens up the lyric.

And, as was the case with “Aquarela do Brasil”, there is another “hook” in the form of a “vamp”–the repeated use of a phrase that bears a coincidental resemblance to our “Good Evening, Friends”. It was introduced in 1938 by the superstar of Brazilian entertainment, Carmen Miranda, who cut it as one of the many, many recordings she made before she came to the United States for the first time.

Next, chronologically, comes “Os Quindins de Yaya”, a samba first introduced in 1940 by Cyro Monteiro. This could well have been one of the hits of the 1941 Carnaval celebration–along with “Aurora”, a song which came up here independently of Disney,and was a hit here for both the Andrews Sisters and for Glenn Miller.

Quindins are a Brazilian cookie, made with sugar, eggs, butter, and ground coconut. (The singular is “quindim”–but, judging by the recipes I’ve seen on the Web, I don’t see how anybody could stop with just one–I know I couldn’t!)

This song appears in Caballeros as featured by Aurora Miranda, Carmen’s younger sister. Aurora was, herself, a star of Brazilian entertainment–not as big a star as Carmen, to be sure, but big enough in her own right.

She appears to have come to Hollywood alongside her older sister, and the “conjuncto” that accompanied them both, the Banda da Lua, in 1940. One wonders if Disney was willing to approach 20th. Century-Fox to ask for a loan-out of Carmen Miranda–but, judging by what one sees on the screen, he got the next best thing.

Finally, there is “Voce’ ja foi a’ Baha”–which does mean “Have You Been To Bahia?”. This song was only just getting recorded at the time that Disney and his “Grupo” were in South America. That’s what makes this observer wonder if Disney tried to, make some long-term connections with Brazilian music-publishers–in case he didn’t hear it wen he was down there himself.

This song was introduced by a “vocal conjucto” known as Os Anjos do Inferno–which translates out as “Hell’s Angels”. But don’t expect these singers/instrumentalists to come in flying in early aircraft, or sitting astride “hogs”!

More than likely, their name was derived as an inversion of that of another musical group of the 1930’s–Os Diabos de Ceu”. (That means “Heaven’s Devils”)

Brazilian music inspired the Disney artists, just as Mary Blair’s watercolors did. And–as was proven in this decade with the”Rio”features–the landscape and costumes of Brazil inspired a brilliant palette–which must have given Natalie Kalmus (the “Technicolor Color Consultant”) conniption fits!

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