Joey, a young boy, runs away to Coney Island after he is tricked into believing he has killed his older brother. Joey collects glass bottles and turns them into money, which he uses to ride the rides.Written by
Les patineurs (The Skaters)
Music by Emil Waldteufel
Played when Joey first rides the merry-go-round See more »
A Quiet Masterpiece
A true classic of American Cinema Verite, "The Little Fugitive" works on several levels. On one level, it's a magnificent portrait of New York, and particularly Coney Island, during the early '50's, when New York City, if you were a kid, was truly a magic place. Anyone growing up in that period can easily identify with the fun and wonders to be seen at Coney when you were a kid and had the day free and money to spend from turned-in pop bottles (Remember those?). Professional photographers, the husband-and-wife team of Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin told a simple story with an eye toward preserving, on film, a way of life that would disappear in just two decades time, and in such an involving way that you feel yourself becoming part of it. All that's missing is the salt air and discarded popcorn bags.
Now to the performances, every one of them a gem. Rickie Brewster and especially little Richie Andrusco as Lennie and Joey, two boys with no previous acting experience, give natural, ingratiating performances as the two brothers at the center of the story. One wonders whatever happened to them, and if, in fact, they're still recognized almost 50 years later. As to the adults, most of them New York-based stage actors, Winnifred Cushing, as the boys' mother, come off as just a bit too arch to be really likeable, but Jay Williams, in the main adult role of the ingratiating pony ride man, more than makes up for it with an enjoyable, lively performance. And see if you can recognize a very young Will Lee, aka "Mr. Hooper" from "Sesame Street," as the photo booth man who lets young Joey help him out.
In short, "Little Fugitive" is not only great as a movie, but also as an evocation of a time and place that lives only in the memories of those who were there.
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