Little Fugitive is one of cinema’s best movies about a kid, and also one of the films that has had the most impact on filmmakers ever. Without it, American indie filmmaking might not exist, and neither would the French New Wave. It’s playing at Cinefamily in LA on September 14th. Here’s my blurb:
Before Cassavetes, and before the French New Wave, there was this small miracle of a film — a low-budget, shot-without-sound, day-in-the-life portrait of a child that inadvertently started the global indie filmmaking movement. Far from Hollywood, Little Fugitive was born in ‘50s New York when a pair of married photographers (Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin) and a successful children’s book writer (Raymond Abrashkin) picked up a handheld 35mm camera and — without studio support or professional actors, but with an effortless blend of innovation and storytelling that has inspired filmmakers for generations — shot one of cinema’s most influential picaresque gems. Capturing childhood with humorous, compassionate lyricism, Little Fugitive follows an adorable little kid who, after his brother pulls a practical joke, goes on the lam to tough it out amidst the cotton candy and pony rides of Coney Island. It’s an undeniably timeless tale of sibling dynamics, but the proto-guerilla filmmaking techniques of the co-directors also capture the people and landscapes a long-gone Coney Island with such vivid documentary realism, you’ll swear you can smell the carnies.