Little Fugitive (1953)

“Coney Island! … Seen as You’ve Never Seen It …” After getting tricked into thinking he has shot and killed his older brother, “Lennie” (Richard Brewster), seven-year-old “Joey” (Richie Andrusco) runs away to Coney Island and has a total blast hanging out on the beach, playing carny games, riding ponies and collecting bottles for deposit money while Lennie desperately tries to track him down before their mother (Winifred Cushing) returns from a trip. Directed by Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley, this charming, low-budget, black-and-white drama was filmed on location using nonprofessional actors and provides a great time capsule of Coney Island in the early 1950s. The cast includes Jay Williams as “Pony Ride Man” and Will Lee (who went on to play “Mr. Hooper” on Sesame Street) as “Photographer.” In addition, Little Fugitive greatly influenced French New Wave directors such as Francois Truffaut (The 400 Blows), who remarked, “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.” Little Fugitive was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1997 for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

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