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Little Fugitive

Saturday, Nov 20 at 12:30 pm

Location: Redstone Theater

Only on November 20:

Introduced by Richard Koszarski

Followed by a book signing in the Museum Shop

Dir. Morris Engel. 1953, 75 mins. 35mm. With Richard Brewster, Winifred Cushing, Jay Williams. Morris Engel’s 1953 classic is a charming cinematic fable that captures the joys and wonders of childhood in the gritty, magical atmosphere of New York in the 1950s. When seven-year-old Joey (Richie Andrusco) is tricked into believing he killed his older brother, he gathers his meager possessions and flees to Coney Island, where adventure, mystery, and surprises await. Engel was a lifelong New Yorker and a well-known photojournalist. He and his wife, photographer Ruth Orkin, along with co-collaborator Ray Ashley, inaugurated the age of independent filmmaking when they took to the streets of New York with a handheld camera to shoot Little Fugitive. The film was a surprise hit, playing in nearly 5,000 theaters in the U.S., winning the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, and earning an Academy Award nomination for its screenplay. The movie’s success encouraged other young filmmakers such as François Truffaut and John Cassavetes to circumvent the studio system and finance their own films. Truffaut himself lauded the film saying, “Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young Morris Engel…with his fine Little Fugitive.”

“The film’s simplicity was itself a great part of its appeal: no pointed moral, no dramatic character arc, no allegorical references to corruption, intolerance, World War II, or nuclear disarmament. Instead the audience is led on by the film’s uncanny sense of observation—not just in terms of photographic imagery but in the way ordinary New Yorkers relate to one another, solve their little problems, and go about the mundane details of their everyday lives.” —Richard Koszarski

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order online. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.