¡Three Amigos! (1986)

PG | 105 mins | Comedy | 12 December 1986

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HISTORY

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, actor-writer-executive producer Steve Martin remembered the song “The Three Caballeros,” played by Mexican musicians at Disneyland, where he was employed as a teenager, and it became the spark for creating “a western fiesta musical comedy.” Manager Bill McEuen and Martin first discussed how the idea would have commercial appeal without introducing four-letter words, drugs, and sex. Director John Landis also thought the concept was “fresh,” and had been looking for a project to do with Martin.
       A 2 Apr 1981 DV news item reported that actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi would costar with Steve Martin in Three Caballeros, a working title of the film. According to a 20 Nov 1986 HR news item, the Disney Company owned the title Three Caballeros, so filmmakers changed it rather than pay the studio $117 thousand for the rights.
       A 15 Jan 1985 DV brief stated that actor John Candy was considered for a role. Although a 27 Aug 1985 DV brief announced that Martin would direct the film, he is listed onscreen as writer, executive producer, and cast member.
       Production notes state that costume designer Deborah Nadoolman based the design of the Three Amigo wardrobe on traditional, elaborately embroidered suits worn by mariachi musicians and “charros,” Mexico’s gentleman cowboys. Nadoolman assigned a personal theme to each actor’s costume. Martin’s sombrero was embroidered with a horseshoe motif, which appeared again on his belt buckle. Chase’s costume was embroidered with a Moorish leaf design, and Short’s outfit sported Aztec sun graphics. For Alfonso Arau’s striped pants and ... More Less

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, actor-writer-executive producer Steve Martin remembered the song “The Three Caballeros,” played by Mexican musicians at Disneyland, where he was employed as a teenager, and it became the spark for creating “a western fiesta musical comedy.” Manager Bill McEuen and Martin first discussed how the idea would have commercial appeal without introducing four-letter words, drugs, and sex. Director John Landis also thought the concept was “fresh,” and had been looking for a project to do with Martin.
       A 2 Apr 1981 DV news item reported that actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi would costar with Steve Martin in Three Caballeros, a working title of the film. According to a 20 Nov 1986 HR news item, the Disney Company owned the title Three Caballeros, so filmmakers changed it rather than pay the studio $117 thousand for the rights.
       A 15 Jan 1985 DV brief stated that actor John Candy was considered for a role. Although a 27 Aug 1985 DV brief announced that Martin would direct the film, he is listed onscreen as writer, executive producer, and cast member.
       Production notes state that costume designer Deborah Nadoolman based the design of the Three Amigo wardrobe on traditional, elaborately embroidered suits worn by mariachi musicians and “charros,” Mexico’s gentleman cowboys. Nadoolman assigned a personal theme to each actor’s costume. Martin’s sombrero was embroidered with a horseshoe motif, which appeared again on his belt buckle. Chase’s costume was embroidered with a Moorish leaf design, and Short’s outfit sported Aztec sun graphics. For Alfonso Arau’s striped pants and cutaway jacket, Nadoolman was inspired by period daguerreotypes.
       The 27 Aug 1985 DV stated that principal photography would begin Jan 1986. An 18 Jun 1986 Var brief reported that principal photography was completed on that day.
       Production notes state that Martin performed his own rope tricks in the silent movie and fiesta sequences. At twelve years old, Martin first learned the skill from cowboy Eddie Adamek.
       A standing set on the Universal back lot was used to shoot the silent western movie footage. An ornate gate was installed and silent movie-era posters were hung at the Ince Street entrance of Laird International Studios in Culver City, CA, to double as the Goldsmith Pictures studio front gate. The Laird property warehouse was used to shoot the sequence in which the actors steal their costumes for their trip to Mexico.
       The company traveled to Old Tucson in AZ, a theme park and western frontier town built in 1939 and used to film Arizona (1940, see entry), for location shooting. The crew built a Spanish arch, a tile sidewalk and remodeled buildings on Old Tucson’s 1860s Main Street to transform it into the town of Diablo, Mexico. The park’s drugstore stood in for the telegraph office, and when principal photography was completed the renovations were left standing as a part of the tourist attraction. Director John Landis chose a nearby desert location to erect El Gaupo’s Spanish mission-turned fortress. After filming, the edifice was also left standing.

      End credits state: “Silent film location: Universal Studios back lot; sound stages, Laird Studios; portions filmed in the Coronado National Forest, Arizona,” and, "Read the novel from Paperjacks." The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “The Filmmakers wish to thank: The Tucson Film Commission, The City of Simi Valley, Bob Shelton of Old Tucson, Rick Rose, Peter Bernstein, Christopher Palmer, Dan Curry, Rachel Landis, Max Landis.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1981.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1985.
---
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1986
p. 3, 26.
Los Angeles Times
12 Dec 1986
p. 8.
New York Times
12 Dec 1986
p. 19.
Variety
18 Jun 1986.
---
Variety
10 Dec 1986
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion Pictures Release
In Association with Home Box Office
An L.A. Films/ Lorne Michaels Production
A Landis/ Folsey Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Addl cam asst
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept asst
Asst des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Leadman
Leadman
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop man
Set des
Set des
Set illustrations
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Head painter foreman
Painter foreman
Plaster foreman
Greensman
Stand-by painter
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Songs by
Score by
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Cable man
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Foley by
Re-rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Fireworks
Main title des
Main title des
Titles & opticals
DANCE
"My Little Buttercup" choreographed by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Financial consultant
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Aerial coord
Tubman 601 pilot
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Teacher
Teacher
First aid
Craft service
Craft service
Caterer
Head wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Payroll services by
Secy to John Landis
Asst to Lorne Michaels
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Addl scr supv
Addl scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt coord
Gun coach
ANIMATION
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“The Ballad Of The Three Amigos,” written by Randy Newman, performed by Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short
“My Little Buttercup,” written by Randy Newman, performed by Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short
“Blue Shadows,” written by Randy Newman, performed by Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Three Caballeros
Release Date:
12 December 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 December 1986
Production Date:
January--18 June 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
10 February 1987
Copyright Number:
PA317667
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1916, Carmen, of Santa Poco, Mexico, and her young companion, Rodrigo, hope to recruit men at a cantina in Diablo, Mexico, to vanquish El Guapo, the murderous tyrant who threatens their village. A cantina patron pretends to be sympathetic, but gropes Carmen instead. Inside a nearby church, Carmen and Rodrigo join parishioners watching a silent movie starring “The Three Amigos,” with actors Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander. The men play wealthy landowner crime fighters dressed in elaborate caballero outfits. Soon, Carmen dictates a telegram to the town scribe, asking the three amigos to journey to Santa Poco to stop El Guapo for a fee of a hundred thousand pesos. When Rodrigo is worried that they do not have the money, Carmen assures him that the trio never accepts payment for their brave deeds in their movies. When Carmen cannot afford to pay for the entire message, the telegrapher shortens it to a request asking the amigos to put on a show with the “infamous” El Guapo. Back in California, the three amigos are fired and thrown off the Goldsmith Pictures studio lot when they refuse to work on a Geronimo picture suggested by studio head, Harry Flugleman. He refuses their salary demands, evicts the three actors from their studio-owned mansion, and reclaims their wardrobe. On the street, the actors receive Carmen’s telegram and accept the invitation to perform with El Guapo. Before leaving for Mexico, the actors steal their “amigo costumes” from the studio. In Mexico, Lucky, Dusty and Ed walk into a cantina, following a gunfight between a German pilot and a taunting cowboy. Upon killing several cowboys, the German warns patrons ... +


In 1916, Carmen, of Santa Poco, Mexico, and her young companion, Rodrigo, hope to recruit men at a cantina in Diablo, Mexico, to vanquish El Guapo, the murderous tyrant who threatens their village. A cantina patron pretends to be sympathetic, but gropes Carmen instead. Inside a nearby church, Carmen and Rodrigo join parishioners watching a silent movie starring “The Three Amigos,” with actors Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander. The men play wealthy landowner crime fighters dressed in elaborate caballero outfits. Soon, Carmen dictates a telegram to the town scribe, asking the three amigos to journey to Santa Poco to stop El Guapo for a fee of a hundred thousand pesos. When Rodrigo is worried that they do not have the money, Carmen assures him that the trio never accepts payment for their brave deeds in their movies. When Carmen cannot afford to pay for the entire message, the telegrapher shortens it to a request asking the amigos to put on a show with the “infamous” El Guapo. Back in California, the three amigos are fired and thrown off the Goldsmith Pictures studio lot when they refuse to work on a Geronimo picture suggested by studio head, Harry Flugleman. He refuses their salary demands, evicts the three actors from their studio-owned mansion, and reclaims their wardrobe. On the street, the actors receive Carmen’s telegram and accept the invitation to perform with El Guapo. Before leaving for Mexico, the actors steal their “amigo costumes” from the studio. In Mexico, Lucky, Dusty and Ed walk into a cantina, following a gunfight between a German pilot and a taunting cowboy. Upon killing several cowboys, the German warns patrons to treat his friends well when they arrive. The bartender mistakes the three amigos for friends of the German pilot, and relays his message “to wait.” Soon, the actors sing “My Little Buttercup” for patrons and leave. When the German’s associates arrive at the cantina, patrons call them “little sissies,” a fight breaks out, and four cowboys are shot to death. Meanwhile, Carmen greets the three amigos and transports them on burro to the village of Santa Poco. There, they are given lodging and strategize their act to overthrow El Guapo. In the morning, Carmen warns the three amigos that some of El Guapo’s men are in town. After the bandits demand tequila from the cantina, the three amigos approach them on horseback and Ned launches into a speech about being fighters for liberty. The three amigos circle the bandits and shoot their guns as townspeople watch. The bandits decide to alert El Guapo about the strange trio, and return to their fortress in the desert. Carmen and the townspeople rejoice after the bandits retreat. At night, the town celebrates with fireworks and mariachis. The next morning, Carmen announces that El Guapo has returned with twenty men. The actors dress in their caballero costumes, and meet the enemy as townspeople watch. The actors recite their lines, and feed El Guapo a line. They shoot their guns in the air and ride in front of the bandits. El Guapo tells his henchman, Jefe, he thinks the actors are funny, and it is only necessary to shoot one man. Lucky is hit in the arm and falls from his horse. After his friends prop him up, Lucky strides over to Jefe, the shooter, and discovers his gun contains real bullets. When Lucky returns to his friends, he announces that they are not involved in a performance, but a real gunfight, and the three amigos break into tears. The actors tell El Guapo that they are not gunfighters, just actors who sing and dance. El Guapo responds that he only fights men, not crying women. The actors apologize and hastily retreat as El Guapo shoots his gun in the air. El Guapo kidnaps Carmen, as his henchmen blow up the church, and destroy town property. When the three amigos return, they discover Santa Poco in ruins. Lucky and Dusty tell Carmen’s parents they are sorry their daughter has been kidnapped, but they are eager to return to America. However, Ned notes that they have no jobs or home to return to. When he issues a challenge to stay in Santa Poco and be heroes, they ride off into the desert looking for El Guapo. At night, they camp and eat bats they have caught. The next day, the actors follow a small plane on its way to the bandits’ fortress. There, preparations are underway for El Guapo’s fortieth birthday, but the outlaw is more excited about the arrival of the German pilot, bringing a fresh shipment of guns. Meanwhile, the three amigos ponder how to penetrate the twenty-five foot walls of El Guapo’s compound with a guard stationed at every post. The actors scale the walls, using party decorations as swinging vines. Dusty swings through a window into the room where Carmen is being held hostage. Lucky lands in the middle of the fortress, and El Guapo’s men surround him. He is sent to the dungeon while mariachis provide entertainment for El Guapo’s party. Elsewhere, Carmen and Dusty knock a guard unconscious, and Dusty steals his clothes. While Carmen rounds up horses, Dusty searches for Lucky. Disguised, Dusty joins the other bandits celebrating El Guapo’s birthday. However, El Guapo recognizes Dusty and orders his men to throw him in the dungeon. Before Dusty is taken away, Ned falls from his hiding place onto a banquet table. The German pilot, a rampant Ned Nederlander fan, recognizes the actor and claims to have seen all of Ned’s movies and, as a boy, even copied the actor’s gun moves. The German challenges Ned to a duel. Meanwhile, Lucky escapes from the dungeon, and sees Ned shoot the German dead. As the blast of the gun sends Ned flying backwards into a wall, the weapon flies out of his hand into the air, and Lucky catches it. Dusty throws a knife at one of the German’s comrades, and Ned shoots an El Guapo guard before both men can kill Lucky. As Dusty and Lucky point their guns at El Guapo, Lucky orders the other men to drop their weapons and get down on the ground. There’s just enough time for the three amigos to ride off on horses that Carmen has waiting. Out in the desert, the three amigos trade their rides for the German pilot’s plane. Ned barely lands the plane in Santa Poco with El Guapo and his men in pursuit. After they learn the town has talented seamstresses, the three amigos devise a plan. When El Guapo and his gang arrive at Santa Poco, many “amigos” dressed in iconic caballero costumes start a gun battle. El Guapo and his men are confused by the many amigos running around, and soon, El Guapo’s men give up the fight and desert their leader. When El Guapo is shot and falls in the middle of the square, he compliments the three amigos on their trickery. He asks Lucky to come closer, and with his last bit of strength, shoots the actor in the foot. Later, the grateful villagers of Santa Poco say their goodbyes, and just as Carmen predicted the actors refuse the town’s money and ride off into the sunset. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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