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Reaction to UPA in Europe


The Disney/UPA rivalry; 'Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom'
Jules Engel Film-maker
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Disney did incredibly beautiful stuff and well done, but then came UPA, where even the Disney people, the faculty... not the faculty, the people who work at Disney, the top animators, telling Walt, 'Hey, look at UPA, why don't we go that way'? And Walt says, 'No way, that's them'. And at that time he called us the 'long-hairs' because everybody had a little more hair then than usual. He called them the 'long-hairs by the river'. But UPA opened a whole new world. When their faculty... when their people wanted to do UPA at Disney, now you know that you've made an impact, enormous impact on the industry in total, yeah. And of course, you take a man like Ward Kimball, but he tells Walt, 'Hey, over there, look what they're doing, why don't we'? They did one - Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. Hey, isn't that incredible? How the hell I can remember that? And that was Ward Kimball's film. And Walt said, I was sitting next to Ward at the academy, and he was swearing because if that film would not win awards, Walt would never speak to him again. Luckily, the film won the best award ever for animation. But Ward knew better. Forget Walt, forget UPA, you know, just do what Walt is so damn good at doing. You know? So that's where we ended up.

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: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, United Productions of America, Walt Disney, Ward Kimball

Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008