This landmark film directly influenced the French New Wave via its naturalistic style and the groundbreaking use of nonprofessional actors in leading roles. Nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Writing, Little Fugitive was also awarded the prestigious Silver Lion at the 1953 Venice Film Festival. In 1997, it was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Filmed on location at Coney Island and in Brooklyn, New York, Little Fugitive resembles a Red Grooms painting come to life. In the film, seven-year-old Joey Norton runs away from home after mistakenly thinking he has shot and killed his older brother. Frightened with threats of imprisonment, Joey flees to Coney Island, where he enjoys pony rides and the arcades before spending the night under the boardwalk. Upon its release in 1953, the New York Times described it as “a candid study of a Brooklyn kid… a wondrous illustration of the eccentricities of a small boy, adrift on his own resources in a tiny and tawdry mob playground.”
Little Fugitive features incredible camera work by Morris Engel, who used a concealed strap-on camera, a prototype for the Steadicam, to capture thousands of beach-going New Yorkers as unwitting extras. As François Truffaut said, “Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American, Morris Engel, who showed us the way with Little Fugitive.”
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Red Grooms: Traveling Correspondent, on view though January 8.
Directors: Ray Ashley, Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin | USA | 1953 | 80 minutes
$9/$5 Brooks members and students with valid ID/Free with VIP Film Pass.
Tickets are available online until 2:30 pm the day of the screening or 2:30 pm on Friday for weekend matinees. Tickets are also available at Visitor Services, or by calling 901.544.6208 during regular business hours. Unsold tickets are also available in the rotunda immediately preceding a screening.