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Morris Engel (1918-2005) was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 8, 1918. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School and 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 Captain Edward Steichen. After his return to “PM” he worked for many national magazines including “Ladies Home Journal”, “McCall’s”, “Fortune”, “Colliers” and others.


His initial interest for motion pictures begun with Paul Strand 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, which is about a 7-year-old boy who runs away to Coney Island, has received international acclaim. Francois Truffaut said “Our new wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American Morris Engel, who showed us the way to independent production with his fine movie “Little Fugitive.” It won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, was nominated for an Academy Award, and was selected by the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1997.


Engel and Orkin married during the making of “Little Fugitive” in 1952, and made a second film together, “Lovers and Lollipops.” Engel made “Weddings and Babies” in 1958 that starred Viveca Lindfors, and “I Need a Ride to California” in 1968. He also completed two video features, “A Little Bit Pregnant” in 1994, and “Camellia” in 1998. He also returned to the streets of NYC, shooting color panoramas




1939       The New School for Social Research, Introduction by Paul Strand

1940       The Solo League, NYC

1944       U.S. Navy exhibit at The Ilford Company, London, England

1999       Photographs Do Not Bend, Dallas, TX, Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC


1948       50 Photographs by 50 Photographers, Museum of Modern Art, NYC

1950       In and Out of Focus, 100 Years of News Photography, Museum of Modern Art, NYC

1978       Photographic Crossroads: The Photo League, International Center for Photography, NYC

1983       Roy Stryker: U.S.A., 1943-1950, International Center of Photography, NYC             

1985       American Images 1945-1980, Barbican Art Gallery, London, England

1986       Tides of Immigration, Romantic Visions and Urban Realities, Brooklyn College, NYC

1987-89  The Photo League, 1936-1951, organized by SUNY New Paltz, traveled to 10 colleges

                throughout New York State

1993       On the Elbow, The Witkin Gallery, Inc., NYC. The Photo League, Gallery 292, NYC

1995       An American Century of Photography: From Dry-plate to Digital, The Hallmark Photographic

               Collection, ICP, NYC

1998       The New York School of Photography, 1930’s – 1960’s, Jan Kesner Gallery, LA, CA

               Take a Train, Howard Greenberg Gallery

               Eight Million Stories: Twentieth-Century New York Life in Prints and Photographs, New York Public

               Library, NYC

1999       Photo League, Fundacion Telefonica, Spain



U.S. Camera Annual, 1939

Life Library of Photography, Documentary Photography, Time-Life Books, 1972

Studio Photography, Morris Engel, Part I: Stranded, by Casey Allen, August 1997

Studio Photography, Morris Engel, Part II: D-Day, by Casey Allen, August 1997

Studio Photography, Morris Engel, Part III: Makin’ Moves, by Casey Allen, October 1997

Vanity Fair, PM’s Impossible Dream, by David Margolick, January 1999



Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME

Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ

George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum, Rockland, ME

Hallmark Photographic Collection, Kansas City, MO

International Center of Photography, New York, NY

LA County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA

New York Public Library, New York, NY

Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

Saint Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO

San Antonio Museum Association, San Antonio, TX

Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS

University of Louisville Photographic Archives, Louisville, KY

University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Ct




Co-director, Co-producer, Co-writer, Cinematographer

National Film Registry, Library of Congress, 1997

Academy Award Nomination for Best Motion Picture Story

Silver Lion, Venice Film Festival

Edinburgh Film Festival

Melbourne Film Festival

Montivideo Festival

The Ten Best Films of 1953

National Board of Review, New York Herald Tribune, Look, This Week, New York Daily News



Co-director, Co-producer, Co-writer, Cinematographer

Venice Film Festival



Director, Producer, Cinematographer

Critics Award, Venice Film Festival



Director, Producer, Cinematographer