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.


The great UPA films


Contrast between Burbarnk and New York premieres of 'Gerald McBoing Boing'
Jules Engel Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

The difference was immediate. The immediacy came through right at the very beginning when you saw the drawings. When you saw the colors, that was way-out. I mean, there was nothing like that ever in a commercial animation on that level. But primarily there's two things, but then again, when you think of story like Unicorn in the Garden, I mean, it's a beautiful story. You take Madeleine, you have a beautiful story. So it's funny but those things, to us, was normal. But to the majority of animation studios, that was not normal, that was so far-out that they just couldn't understand. The weirdest thing happened. We just finished Gerald McBoing Boing, we'd just finished it and we had a preview at Burbank, a Saturday night preview. We asked them if we could run a 6-minute short. And they said, 'Oh, why not?' So here we are, with Gerald… Gerald McBoing Boing, we give them the film. Saturday night, Burbank jammed, the house is full, jammed. They're running the film - it was as quiet as this moment here. During the film, and after the film. You heard it, silence, that's the way the film ended. It was a disaster. It was a disaster. So we were all in the lobby and we we're saying, 'What went wrong? What is wrong?' I mean, silence like that, even on the film was… and it's Saturday night, the place is jammed. Three months later, weeks later, we have a preview in New York, it blew the house. It blew the top of the roof of that place. People stood up, people applauded. Life magazine came out with three or four color pages. Time magazine came out with color pages, which they'd never done before. The difference was if you want something really good, don't go to Burbank. You've got to go to New York, change the whole aspect of what animation was about, what we're all about. But the difference, you see, when you're in Burbank and if you worked to that mentality, that's one thing. But New York is another thing. And believe me, the silence was deafening. During the show, and after the show. We just stood there, you know what I mean? You have no idea what happened. What happened? But it changed when it went to New York, that's a big difference. They bought that over there, they didn't buy it here. So that put us into a position where, then, things just happened and just came our way. And still we had other films like that but Columbia still didn't like it, all they wanted was Mr Magoo.

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: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

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.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Unicorn in the Garden, Gerald McBoing Boing, Life Magazine, New York, Mr Magoo, Time magazine

Duration: 3 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008