LITTLE FUGITIVE: Q & A with Mary Engel & Richie Andrusco (Recorded January 31, 2013)
$7 Member $12.50 Regular
60th Anniversary • New 35mm Print
#1 Critics' Pick!
"There’s influential, and then there’s this 1953 microbudgeted beauty, one that’s made its way into the DNA of everything from cinema vérité to the French New Wave. But that’s history—the truth is that for all of its dated Noo Yawkese elocutions and quaint urbanity, the film still feels startlingly alive. Andrusco’s chewable little face registers 30 shades of pluck, and codirector Morris Engel’s ever-mobile camera casually captures perfection—in sunlight filtering through boardwalk slats, in the quiet descent of the Parachute Jump, in the endlessly repeating pratfalls of the batting cage."
– Eric Hynes, Time Out New York
Click here to read the full review
(1953, Morris Engel) Brooklynite Richie Andrusco’s on the run from the cops after the accidental shooting of his big brother — only trouble is, Richie’s only seven, the “shooting” was just a dumb ketchup-splashed gag by his brother and cronies, and Mom won’t be back from Grandma’s till the next day. But with six bucks in his pocket and all of Coney Island for a hide-out, how tough can things be, as Richie rides the merry-go-round, takes a cowboy photo, tries out his swings in the batting cage, scarfs down hot dogs, soda, watermelon, and corn on the cob, and gets hooked on the pony ride — he refinances by scouring under the boardwalk for two-cent deposit soda bottles — and even his frantically searching big brother takes a break to ride The Parachute Jump. With a concealed custom-made 35mm camera (which Godard later asked to borrow), legendary photographer Engel — and crew including future wife Ruth Orkin, herself a photography titan — captured unknowing crowds, a phenomenal performance by pint-sized non-pro Richie, and a perfect time capsule of Coney in the waning years of its heyday. Oscar nomination for Best Screen Story; Silver Lion, Venice Film Festival. Co-written and co-produced by Ray Ashley. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Film Foundation and The Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Fund. Approx. 85 min. 35mm.
Plus D.A. Pennebaker’s DAYBREAK EXPRESS (1953), an early morning ride on the Third Avenue El to the music of Duke Ellington.
AN ARTISTS PUBLIC DOMAIN/ CINEMA CONSERVANCY RELEASE
"Embodies high-minded, lone-wolf filmmaking in its purest and most beguiling form! Rendered in the naturally-lit, eloquently composed tones of the photography that Engel had produced as a member of the activist Photo League of New York and as a World War II combat photographer, Little Fugitive feels like photojournalism come to life."
– Bruce Bennett, Wall Street Journal
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"The bulk of Little Fugitive follows Joey, alone; the film’s genius is how completely it tunes in to his experience, delicately outlining Joey’s private moments of shame, elation, despondency, and pride. Seemingly pulled along by Andrusco’s spontaneity, the film is also an adventure in perception, full of anecdotal asides in which Joey’s curiosity reintroduces us to commonplace things: the way cotton candy is made, the distorted views through a portrait photographer’s camera or a funhouse mirror, the way sunlight comes through the slats in the boardwalk... the independent, proto-vérité Fugitive is also a photojournalistic document of time and place, rich with moments of grotty beauty, like the images of the funfair under rain."
– Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice
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“THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT OF NEW YORK NEO-REALISM!”
– J. Hoberman
"Shot on a dime and striking a tonal balance–alternately gripping and languorous, humorous and devastating, sentimental and clinical–that genuinely sets it apart from pretty much every other film made during the era."
– New York magazine
"A lively essay on ball-toss games, pop-bottle deposits, pony rides, and human midsections of all varieties as seen from a four-footer's perspective. Truffaut paid homage to it as an inspiration for the French New Wave—and no wonder. This valuable record of love and pain on the beach captures unique vignettes, like that of a pair of lovers staking out a spot on the sand, then hiding their heads under a towel as they snuggle and smooch."
– Michael Sragow, The New Yorker
“A missing link in the history of modern cinema, a small, unexpected islet, midway between the first wave of Italian neo-realism and the future French New Wave. Between European modernity and the upcoming independent American cinema. Little Fugitive, like Open City, like Breathless, is one of these precarious films which made cinema move in a radical way.”
– Alain Bergala, Cahiers du Cinéma
“Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for Morris Engel’s fine movie The Little Fugitive. It showed us the way.”
– François Truffaut
Click here to read Joseph Jon Lanthier's review at Slant Magazine
Click here to read Daniel Guzmán's review at Cinespect