Little Fugitive is a 1953 film written and directed by Raymond Abrashkin (as "Ray Ashley"), Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, that tells the story of a child alone at Coney Island.
It stars Richie Andrusco in the title role, and Richard Brewster as his brother Lennie.
Little Fugitive influenced the French New Wave and is considered by modern day critics to be a landmark film because of its naturalistic style and groundbreaking use of nonprofessional actors in lead roles. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story.
In 1997, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
It was the first and best known of Engel's three feature films. It was followed by Lovers and Lollipops in 1956 and Weddings and Babies, which was filmed in 1957 and released in 1960. All three films were similar stylistically, and were filmed with hand-held 35 mm. cameras. The cameras used in the first two movies did not record sound, and dialogue was dubbed subsequent to filming. Weddings and Babies was the first fiction feature filmed with a portable camera that allowed synchronized sound.
Joey Norton, seven years old, lives with his older brother Lennie in a lower middle class neighborhood of Brooklyn. Joey is too small to be taken seriously by Lennie and Lennie's friends.
One day, while their mother is away visiting her sick mother, Lennie and his friends play a joke on Joey. They stage an incident so that Joey thinks he has shot and killed his brother.
Joey, who is told the police will catch and imprison him, runs to the nearest elevated train station and flees to Coney Island. He seems to forget his predicament and spends the day wandering around the arcades, pony rides, beach—a little boy's paradise. He gets money for snacks by cashing in deposit bottles, and spends the night sleeping under the boardwalk. Meanwhile, Lennie is frantically trying to find him, as their mother is due home soon.
Joey loves horses, and he begins hanging around a pony ride. The proprietor of the ride becomes suspicious that Joey is a runaway, and tricks Joey into giving him his address. He calls home and alerts Lennie, who comes to Coney Island and finds his brother.
Their mother comes home just after the two brothers arrive home. She is unaware of what happened, and says they will have a treat that weekend: a trip to Coney Island!
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