We spoke with legendary comedy director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Coming to America) to find out more about his cult classic Three Amigos! hitting Blu-ray for the first time on November 22nd. Viva Los Amigos!
Really Old School Silent Film-making
They actors wore lead-based make-up for the silent film and Landis shot it on one of Universal Studio’s oldest lots.
Steve Martin Was the Biggest Diva
Well, not Martin the actor, but his character Lucky. “He sees himself as the leader, which is more apparent in the deleted scenes,” Landis says. This shouldn’t be that surprising since he wrote the script with Saturday Night Live leader Lorne Michaels and musician Randy Newman.
Comedian Sam Kinison’s Part Is Nowhere to Be Found
Landis was upset that the scenes with the iconic screaming comedian was removed from the final version and appear to be lost forever. “The film was too long and I was looking for stuff I could lift without damaging the plot. I wish we could find that footage because it was outstanding.” So if anyone out there has the footage, hook a brother up.
Alfonso Arau (a.k.a.) El Guapo Is Really a Lover, Not A Fighter
Many know Arau as the bad guy in The Wild Bunch and wonder how difficult it was to transition to comedy. Not very, according to Landis. “I hired him because of his work in The Wild Bunch but he’s an accomplished director who was well versed in comedy.”
Bat Wings Are Delicious
When they’re made of bacon, which is what they used during the camping scene.
The Nanny Got Cut
Fran Drescher had a part at the beginning of the film but was cut. Unlike Kinison, some of her footage appears in the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray.
Randy Newman Got Auto-tuned
Randy Newman voice was digital altered as the singing bush.
Landis Takes Credit for The Singing Turtle
“That singing turtle was my idea. It’s a desert setting so we needed lots of animals. The animals were on set with handlers and wires so they didn’t run, but I remember the coyote was the most difficult.” Probably not as difficult as keeping the horses in tune, though.
Who’s The Sexy Señorita?
The smoldering village hottie who gives Ned a kiss at the end is former playmate and actress Rebecca Underwood (now Rebecca Ferratti). This isn’t really a groundbreaking Three Amigos! factoid, but how could we finish this list without recognizing someone so beautiful?
INTERNET LIES DEBUNKED!
We scoured IMDB’s Three Amigos! trivia page to set the record straight. In the process we found out that people actually make things up on the Internet? Shocking!
THE INTERNET SAYS: It’s filmed in the same village as the one from The Magnificent Seven.
LANDIS: Of course not! That was filmed in Mexico, this wasn’t...unless Santa Poco in Simi Valley, California is considered south of the border. The town they go to is in Old Tuscon, which is the same town from Rio Bravo.
THE INTERNET SAYS: Mexicans considered it offensive and the film was never officially released in Mexico.
LANDIS: That’s completely crazy! It was a huge hit in Mexico. In fact, Three Amigos! did better foreign than domestic. At the time it seemed like westerns were out of favor, but now people view it as a classic Laurel and Hardy-type comedy.
INSIDE LANDIS (ewww...)
Landis Has No Favorite Amigo Because They’re All Equally Stupid
When asked to choose his favorite--Chevy Chase as Dusty Bottoms, Steve Martin as Lucky Day or Martin Short as Ned Nederlander--Landis was hard-pressed to pick one Amigo. “They’re one unit and they’re all so clueless. It’s so relentlessly silly.” The defining character moment for Landis was when they’re planning to infiltrate El Guapo’s fortress. Lucky says: “We’re going to have to use our brains.” The response from the other guys: “Damn!”
On Upgrading Three Amigos! To Blu-ray
“The new digital tech allows you to re-scan the negative, remove the dust and dirt, and you can have color control,” Landis says regarding the incredible transfer offered on Blu-ray. “You don’t have the option to do that on film. Before you’d take an old print, which was faded and ragged from running through the projector and just use that.”
Favorite Lines from Three Amigos!
Chevy Chase: “Do you have anything besides Mexican food.”
Steve Martin: “We’re from out of town.”
Most Recent Film That Made Landis Laugh
Favorite TV Shows
The Office, South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy
Favorite Current Directors
David Fincher and Edgar Wright
Three Amigos! is available Blu-ray on November 22nd.