The Throwback: A salute to 'Three Amigos!'
December 15th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

The Throwback: A salute to 'Three Amigos!'

Twenty-five years ago this week, the dream comedy team of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short (in his big screen debut) was first unleashed upon the public in "Three Amigos!"

Unfortunately for them, the trio couldn't compete with the star power of Eddie Murphy that particular weekend at the box office in 1986, and lost out to "The Golden Child." (The critics weren't kind, either.)

However, "Three Amigos!" became one of the many beneficiaries of the advent of home video in the 1980s. Between that, and the movie becoming a mainstay in syndication, it soon joined the pantheon of endlessly-quoted '80s comedy classics, like "Caddyshack," "Airplane!" and "The Blues Brothers" (also directed by "Amigos'" John Landis).

The concept - about three fired silent movie actors who accept an invitation to "stop the infamous El Guapo" in a small Mexican village, without realizing that it's not a new movie they're shooting - has since been used by "Galaxy Quest" and "Tropic Thunder" (to better box office results).

What is it that made the "Amigos" endure? If it was merely Martin, Chase and Short in ridiculous costumes, that would be one thing. It would be a forgettable one-joke movie.

Instead, it has one memorable scene of smart-dumb humor after another. From the moment the trio hold one note of their theme song entirely too long at the beginning, we know what we're in for. Then, Lucky Day (Martin) unsuccessfully tries bird calls (at night!) to get his friends' attention.

Then, upon arriving in Mexico, there's the impromptu performance of "My Little Buttercup" in a bar.

That only gets us through the first half hour or so. We haven't even gotten to "Lip balm?"

The recently released Blu-ray sadly does not include as many deleted scenes as it could have (some of them were trashed, but Landis did find some extended scenes from a preview print made for theater owners), because the original version of the film included performances by Fran Drescher and the late Sam Kinison.

In any case, it's great to see the movie get its due a quarter century later, looking and sounding as great as ever (and the interview clip included is an interesting look at the three stars relaxing in the midst of their '80s heyday).

The Singing Bush, the Invisible Swordsman and El Guapo can't hold them back. Wherever there is injustice, you will find them. Wherever there is suffering, they'll be there. Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find... the Three Amigos! (Cue salute.)

Have you also seen this movie more times than you can count? Share your memories (and favorite quotes, of course) in the comments.

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Ricardo Ramirez

    Ya viste mi pagina de marketing y publicidad

    March 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rob

    "Goodnight Ned" – turtle

    December 17, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Do you know what nada means? Is that like a light chicken gravy?

    December 17, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ben

    You were supposed to fire UP.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sam B.

    "Where'd you get that pretty little gun?"
    "Why dont you come over here and sit on my lap? i want to show you something honey"

    December 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JB

    We can SEW!

    December 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Snarky

    Yea... movie's trash.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John C.

    "I am that fast..."

    December 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. amwhoiam

    I still bust out the phrase, "son of a motherless goat" from time to time. A little more than I should probably admit.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Naude

    You killed the invisible swordsman! You were supposed to shoot up. We all shot up! Honestly, it's like living with a child!

    December 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. My Name is... Not Mike

    "That was a good trick. Come closer. I have something to tell you...." *BANG* "That was a good trick too!!" *LAUGHS THEN DIES*

    December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J

    – I was thinking later, you could kiss me on the veranda
    – Lips will be fine

    December 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Josh

    That's a male plane. How do you know? You see those two little balls?

    December 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dean

    "Forgive me El Guapo, but I do not possess your superior intellect..."

    December 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Keith

    My wife animated mouths of the singing horses, she's gonna love all these comments. thanks!

    December 16, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  16. WL

    [lucky] a big, shiny silver car . . . [dusty] new york, maybe paris, be a big shot for awhile . . .

    i want to open an orphanage for homeless children.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  17. Ken

    The music for this movie is by two gifted composers: Elmer Bernstein did the orchestral score and Randy Newman composed the songs. I have always loved the music and the movie. At least, Bernstein's score is straight forward beautiful. Everythink else is silly...sometimes almost too silly.
    "IN-FAMOUS is when you are MORE than famous. This man El Guapo is not just famous, he's IN-famous"

    Carmen, do you know what foreplay is?
    Good, neither does El Guapo.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  18. Eric of Reseda

    Rosita: I was thinking later, you could kiss me on the veranda.
    Dusty Bottoms: Lips would be fine.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  19. Jon

    "I'm still here El Guapo!"

    December 16, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  20. Merry Christmas everyone!

    December 16, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  21. RC

    Jefe, you do not understand women. You cannot force open the petals of a flower. When the flower is ready, it opens itself up to you.

    December 16, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  22. Elizabeth Carey

    That'll be the day.
    What did he say?
    He said that'll be the day Mr. Flugelman!

    December 16, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  23. Ruth

    You see jefe, a rose can bloom in the desert 🙂

    December 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  24. victimblue

    this is a classic. period. sure its jokes are kind of dumb at times but you can't argue the fact that this film stands the test of time. one of the very very few martin short movies that i like....and believe their ain't much. A classic film.

    December 16, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  25. Queen B

    "The infamous el Guapo; what's infamous, that's when your MORE than famous" I remember watching this over and over as a kids with my cousins. An all time fav.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  26. Elizabeth Carey

    'we must all learn to conquer our own personal El Guapo, who in this case happens to be the actual El Guapo'

    'you can sew! If only we had known this earlier!'

    December 16, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  27. 46 WASP w kids

    "Badges? We don't need no frickin' badges!" shticks like a STD – a gift that keeps on giving... Classic extension of vaudeville to the big screen that -though campy, if not rank- is infamously timeless...

    December 16, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  28. maureen

    Great humour and reorganised and let not forget the recognition of three amigos they are born star

    December 16, 2011 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
  29. the Wash

    One of my favorite movies! So many memorable lines. I sing "My Little Buttercup" to my daughter almost daily.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  30. garyB

    ...And dont forget the singing animals...coming in on the BASS lines on the prarie!! This is slap stick comedy at its finest cliche hour!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  31. garyB

    FINALLY a great humor classic is recognized by someone other than...MYSELF & my growing kids who suffered through me watching it a hundred times & now grown to repeat great lines like; upHEER...upHEER..mLLLLookUp...LLLLookUP!...HEY!...GUYS!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  32. 4More

    Bagdes. We don't need no stinking badges.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  33. Allyson

    I bought the soundtrack as soon as I could. We practiced holding 'we are the 3 AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH – migos. Amigos forever we'll be.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  34. Gregory Lawhorn

    Let's not forget the inspiration for The Three Amigos, "The Magnificent Seven," which of course was a sibling to The Seven Samurai. Want one for the kids? Try Pixar's "A Bug's Life"

    December 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Pam

    Just read the article and called my 27 year old son about it. This was his favorite movie when he was 3-4 years old. I remember a blonde little boy danicing and singing "My Little Buttercup" then running and jumping on the footstool and doing the "salute". Good, clean comedy without the crude language. It is irreplaceable.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  36. rOckNrOllsCar11

    weird, for like the past two weeks ive been thinkin about how funny this movie was. i havent seen it in yrs. thanks for the quotes, brought ba the memories of it. 'a sweater' lol

    December 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Pam

    I read this article and called my son to tell him. Why you may ask. It was his favorite movie when he was 3-4 years old. He is 27 now. I can still see a blonde little boy dancing the "My Little Buttercup" song then running and jumping on the footstool doing the "salute". He laughed said he had just gotten the Blueray edition for him and his fiance to watch. She has never seen the movie. Clean, good fun is this movie.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Thats cool Pam. I myself am 28 and my fiancé has yet to see this movie. I quote it all the time and it's just one of those movies my parents had no problems letting me watch over and over again. She always gets annoyed though when I sing the singing bush lines in that high pitched voice loudly and with no apparent stops!

      December 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Beneth

    Esta bien bonito

    December 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Lee

    How about Steve Martin's gut-splitting escape from that contraption in the prison cell?

    December 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Gilda

    It was so dumb, I loved it...

    Infamous...MORE than famous!

    December 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Alex

    El Guapo: "I like these guys. They are funny guys! Just kill one of them..."

    December 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Syd

    "What kind of plane is that?"

    "It's a male plane."

    You know the rest.

    December 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  43. karin

    so glad to see so many other fans of this movie...i thought i was the only strange duck....que vivan los amigos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Jazz Tate

    Three Amigo's was the very first movie that I remember my mom taking me too. I was 5yrs at the time. The Golden Child was one of the worst movies that I have ever seen before in my life. I wish that I could add that two hours back to my life.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gilda

      "The Golden Child" was a truly terrible movie and I hated it with a fire that burns. I've not walked out of many movies in my nearly 50 years of life, but that was one that I walked out of within the first 15 minutes.

      December 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Jon

    I used to watch movies like this, but then i took an arrow in the knee...

    December 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  46. ET

    I've seen it more times than I can remember, and i'll watch it again.

    -"The Infamous? The Infamous?"

    December 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  47. todd

    What are you cryin about I've been shot already.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  48. de grimley

    Even before i read this article today i used a variation of one of my favorite quotes in the movie. My son was slow eating dinner tonight so i jumped behind him, put my hands on his shoulders and yelled "eat very young one. Eat like the wind!!". True story from 1 hour ago. The original quote is of course "sew very old one, sew like the wind!!"

    December 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Sonja

    They EACH have their greatest moments: Dusty (Chase) tries to fake his way through a romantic ballad on the guitar, Lucky (Martin) does an awesome face plant when he swings in at the party, and then there's Ned's hilarious attempt at intimidation by juggling his gun and laughing maniacally on horseback.

    December 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Julie

    Bum bum bum bum bum....the campfire scene! The singing horses and other animals! Good night ned!

    December 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth Carey

      Blue shadows, on the trail...Soft wind blowing through the trees above....all the doggies are in the coral. All of their work is done. Just close your eyes and dream, little pal. Dream of, someone...Goodnight Ned!

      December 16, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  51. Ter

    "Would you like to kiss me on the veranda?" "No...on the lips'll be fine!"

    December 15, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  52. scott

    Do you know what a Plethera is ?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Slugbait

    "Excuse us. We're not Mexicans, we're from out of town."

    "What's tequila?"
    "Ehh, it's like beer."
    "Is it fattening?"

    Yeah, I've seen it more times than I can count. Bought the DVD years ago, haven't watched it lately, should pull it out tonight...

    December 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Adam

    "Not so fast, El Guapo...or I'll fill you so full of lead, you'll be using your d**k for a pencil."

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  55. tracie

    This movie is dumb. I'd rather let my husband sit on my face and farrt all day.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Bells

    " day I will come back for you"... "why???"

    December 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Lynne

    This town is getting too rough for me!

    December 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  58. V

    "Do you have anything else besides Mexican?"

    December 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Edie

    "Can I have your watch when you are dead?"

    December 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Silvia Viana

    This is one of my favourite movies of all times. I remember my sister and Iaughing to tears with things like: 'And.......ha! Dorothy Guish. True story.' and 'You can kiss me on the veranda. – Lips will be fine' or even 'Do you have anything besides Mexican food?'. Thank you guys for the great moments spent watching you!

    December 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Mike

    "It's a sweater!!!"

    December 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Every time when we hand over family present.....we shout out 'it's a sweater'!!!!!!!

      December 16, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  62. Matt

    "Would you say I have a plethora of Pinata's?"
    "Burn the village! Rape the horses! Ride off on the women! Prune the hedges!"


    December 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |

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