Morris Engel (1918 – 2005)

Morris Engel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1918. He joined the Photo League in 1936, where he met Aaron Siskind, Berenice Abbott and Paul Strand, who invited him to work on his film Native Land.  Engel became a staff photographer on the newspaper PM and joined the Navy in 1941. As a member of Combat Photo Unit 8 that landed on Normandy on D-Day, he received a citation from Edward Steichen who was a Captain at the time.  After his return to PM, he worked for many national magazines including Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s, Fortune, Collier’s and others. His initial interest in motion pictures began with Paul Strand and reached a new level when he built a lightweight hand-held 35mm camera with Charles Woodruff. This camera was a major factor in the production of his first film, Little Fugitive. It served the dual purpose of creating extreme fluidity, and being able to work on a small budget with a tiny crew. The film received international acclaim, winning the Silver Lion at the Venice FIlm Festival, an Academy Award nomination and was selected by the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1997. In 1952, Engel married Ruth Orkin during the making of Little Fugitive and together they made a second film, Lovers and Lollipops. Engel made Weddings and Babies in 1958, that starred Viveca Lindfors and I Need a Ride to California in 1968.  He completed two video features, A Little Bit Pregnant in 1994 and Camellia in 1998. He also did photographic panoramas on the streets of New York City.