a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Hollywood’s high-flyers


Working for the military Motion Picture Unit
Jules Engel Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I was transferred over to the motion picture unit of the airforce. And it was one of those things where you land there and who walks by you but Ronald Reagan? Who's now, he's only a second lieutenant, he's a nothing, but it's the place, that's it, and the way he moves his hand, you know. Whereas I came from six, four weeks with an army, which makes a big difference, how you salute. But that was a whole other world, that unit. Because everybody knows everybody and now they're in the army. And now you're in the army and you're, let's see, a major. Whereas, if you reverse it, at the studio, he was not the major, he was the janitor. So you could you use that, whether you were a major or whether you were a first lieutenant because you had to go back into the studio when it's all over. And if you're going to use rank, push it around, you're going to have a little problem. Because the people will say, remember him when we were in the army? And he was such a shit, you know, and all that and all that. And now we're going to tell him to go to hell. I mean, it was there and it was very obvious because there was only one person, who I was aware, who was in this particular animation unit but he was not from Hollywood. I don't know where he came from but he was second lieutenant. Whereas the person who was the head of the department, he was a major, harmonising. He was the head of the department. Harmonising was a studio. And he was a nice person and he was a major. Now, a major, that's pretty big, you know. And we were with him before. We knew him well, so there was no problem, you know. But if people use the rank, that was stupid. In fact, they always helped each other. I remember we were lined up one morning because they were checking us. And the head of the department and he would take notes. And this guy said my hair in the back was too long. And he said, sir, he's doing a film. But hell, he was lying, I wasn't doing a film. But you see, he took my name down in front of this man because this man didn't know me but he knew where I was. So when the damn thing was over, I ran behind to the barbershop, I told them to cut it, clean me up. Because he said, after he took my name, he said, please come and see me after the church. So I went back and I sat down and I waited for him and I finally went to see him. And he looks at me and says, I don't know what the hell he sees in you, you're hair is ok.. But that was Cal Arts. That was Culver City and the Motion Picture Unit. And the first time that the army had a unit that dealt with flying. They never had that before. And that was all Hollywood. And from that, you had to do night duty. They put a belt on you with the revolvers, you know. And they said, but don't touch it. But you still have to have a revolver here, you see. But when he put it on me and I went like that and then he said, oh, don't touch that, you know. So it's 11 o'clock at night, now you are there at the front door and the guy comes right through, he doesn't stop. I'm there. He doesn't stop, he just drives right through the damn thing. And I know who he was. I said, I'm going to get that bastard after this war is over. And sure enough, I met him about a month later. I said, do you remember you drove through that morning? He said, oh, you were there? I said, yeah, I was there, I was the one that wanted to shoot you. But that was Beverley Hills and Hollywood and stuff like that.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz Bill Moritz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tags: Motion Picture Unit, Air Force, Culver City, Hollywood, Beverley Hills, Ronald Reagan

Duration: 5 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008