Make us your home page

Plethora of 'Three Amigos' trivia on its 30th anniversary

Publicity photo



Thirty years later, we still mourn the death of The Invisible Swordsman. On Dec. 12, 1986, Three Amigos was unleashed on a skeptical movie-going public, and our reaction remains …

What an in-famous movie!

Directed by the in-famous comedy legend John Landis, co-written by SNL’s Lorne Michaels and starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, Three Amigos had the pedigree to be an instant classic. Instead it was perceived by critics largely as a dud and tolerated lukewarmly by the public, who helped the movie gross just about $15 million more than it cost to make.

Critic Roger Ebert gave Three Amigos one star, commenting in his review: “All great farces need a certain insane focus, an intensity that declares how important they are to themselves. This movie is too confident, too relaxed, too clever to be really funny. And yet, when the cowboys sit around their campfire singing a sad lament and then their horses join in, you see where the movie could have gone.”

Still, it survives today as a cult classic, largely based on its clever quotes and insanely talented cast. 

Ironically, Three Amigos’ lineup wasn’t what was originally planned. Steven Spielberg originally considered directing it (but thankfully chose E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial instead). Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were the first picks to play two of the costars when the project was still called The Three Caballeros. And scenes starring Sam Kinison and Fran Drescher ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor.

Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about Three Amigos on its 30th anniversary, according to

1. Randy Newman composed many of the songs for Three Amigos and even serves as the voice of the Singing Bush (though his voice was digitally altered).

2. As with many Lorne Michaels productions, the support cast is full of Saturday Night Live cast members. Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman have early roles as studio executives.

3. Alfonso Arau, who plays the villainous El Guapo, also starred in the 1970 Mexican film Tres Amigos, which - of course, translates to Three Amigos.

4. Those “bats” that the trio eats by the campfire? That’s bacon on skewers.

5. The publicity appearances by the three main actors to promote Three Amigos are in-famous in their own special way, but probably none surpasses Steve Martin’s appearance on Late Night with David Letterman when he introduced a series of totally fictional Three Amigos-themed souvenirs.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 14, 2016 6:49am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours