Little Fugitive (The Coney Island Kid ) Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Super Reviewer
August 20, 2008
Somewhere between The 400 Blows and a Kookla, Fran and Ollie flick, this pioneering 1953 film was a watershed for being an American independent and for its early handheld camera work. A warmhearted kid story with great New York scenery to boot.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2009
As twilight descends on coney island, you can almost taste the salt water air and feel the cool ocean breeze on your cheek. The movie is less a character study and more a day in the life of a boy at a very specific time and place. Rather than a plot taking us along to it's pre-determined destination, things merely happen, and we bear silent witness to it. It's a simple story of two brothers, maybe aged 6 and 11, and the older brother tricks the younger into thinking he's killed him, thus sending the younger brother on the run. He goes to Coney island, and spends a couple of days on the beach and on the boardwalk, drowning his sorrow in junk food and pony rides. Directed by Morris Engel and Ray Ashley, the film has all the quality of an artistic (not artsy-fartsy) documentary, there's very little in the way of script of plot, it's basically an exercise in film and subject matter. And yet, somewhere in the midst of all this artistic vision, a tender story comes out and forms a touching image. It's almost impossible not to see this as a real life story, and it's also almost impossible not to fall in love with the little boy. The charm of this document and it's by-gone era lies with the people it photographs, and as a snapshot of Coney Island and New York, it's almost a love letter.
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2008
the very first american indie. remarkably natural performance from the kid. a low budget documentary style snapshot of a more innocent time and a big influence on truffaut's 400 blows
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
February 4, 2009
No frills look at kids growing up in 1950's New York City. The unpolished style adds to its charm and ambiance.
½ January 3, 2010
This shows how you can make a very effective film on a miniscule budget. It?s sweet and simple, very believably done and presented. The acting by the unprofessional cast is very natural and convincing. Great score that enhances the film.
½ October 12, 2008
Early landmark of independent cinema and cinema vérité style. Brings you totally into the world of old Coney Island through the episodic adventures of a lonesome young boy.
½ May 20, 2008
Engel's debut is worthy of its reputation. It's easy to fall back on Truffaut's praise, but this is more than just an obscure influence on the nouvelle vague. It's a striking portrait of a lost place and time. It's notable for me because it mirrors my father's childhood. I've heard plenty of stories of Coney and trips to the beach, but I never had a tangible feel for the excitement that he must've felt. I've seen other movies with reconstructions of the park, but none of them felt real. This is as close as I'll ever get to glimpsing into that shadowy past.

There are a few annoyances, but most of them come early on. I had no real interest in the setup scenes, but once the decidedly loose exploration of the park began, I was sold.

I don't know how people with no connection to this film's world will feel,but if you have any interest in the development of true independent American cinema, this should be a high priority.
May 20, 2013
An early example of low budget, indie, mostly improvised narrative film-making. Charming, entertaining, well filmed, and a valuable document of a time not that long ago which would send current hoveringly protective Americans into an apoplectic fit.
½ November 18, 2010
Atmosphere Is Not Enough

I have to tell you that a substantial amount of this basically seems like an extended version of the [i]Mystery Science Theater 3000[/i]-aired short "Johnny at the Fair." (Which, on double-checking, is indeed earlier by six years.) In the short, Johnny gets separated from his family and wanders all over the Canadian National Exhibition, meeting people who might have been celebrities in 1947 but who are mostly forgotten now. It's good-natured fun for all, highlighting the wonders to be seen. Johnny can go all over the place, apparently unquestioned until the very end, and seems to have the money in his pockets to do whatever he wants to. All the best things happen to Johnny, and he is basically living the dream every child has, even if they're just at a church carnival. I found a twenty-dollar-bill once and was informed by the priest that it would probably be impossible to find it owner, so I could spend it all as I liked.

Lennie Norton (Richard Brewster) is having a birthday. His plan is to go to Coney Island with his friends and spend his savings on the parachute drop and so forth. However, his grandmother is ill, and their mother (Winifred Cushing) must go away for a couple of days to see how she's doing. (I can't find out how old Richard Brewster was, but too young.) She leaves Lennie and his brother, Joey (Richie Andrusco) alone, and she tells Lennie that his trip to Coney Island is off. Lennie and his friends (Charlie Moss and Tommy DeCanio) come up with a scheme to take their revenge on Joey, whom they blame for the missed trip. They make Joey believe that he has shot and killed his brother, and they say they'll give him an hour's head start before calling the cops. They are then bewildered when Joey runs away. Which he does. To Coney Island. Where he plays the games and eats the food and rides the rides. Another kid turns him on to the great wealth to be had from bottle deposits, and that's even better.

But Joey even spends the night there, apparently unmolested. And I don't mean that in a sexual sense. I mean there's no comment made until Joey collects bottles enough for a dozen pony rides. Then, "Jay the Pony-Ride Man" (Jay Williams) asks Joey where his parents are, and Joey runs away. He sleeps I guess under the boardwalk, and when Jay finds him the next morning, it's only then that he considers calling the police. For all the good that does, given that Joey promptly runs away again. I don't even know if Jay is able to deliver Lennie's message--"Lennie isn't dead." And Lennie won't call the police, because then their mother will know everything that happened. Clearly, it's a much more innocent time. I mean, we know that the photographer is Will Lee--kindly old Mr. Hooper, late and lamented--but Joey has no way of knowing that. What's more, Jay could have been all kinds of unsavoury, and who would know until it was too late?

Here's the other thing I don't understand. Joey believes he has [i]killed[/i] his [i]brother[/i]. Lennie's friends tell Joey that he's going to go to the chair for it. They tell him that they are giving him this head start so that his mother won't have two dead sons. (That they don't execute seven-year-olds and that no case could possibly be made for first-degree murder is not a subtlety one could expect Joey to understand, and if Lennie's friends know, they don't care.) So what does Joey do? He runs off to Coney Island and rides the carousel. Eats cotton candy. Plays various games. And so forth. Larks about generally. All the while, he thinks he's killed his brother. He thinks he's going to be executed. He thinks his mother is going to have two dead sons. And he goes and has Mr. Hooper take his picture? I don't get his line of thinking. I mean, I know that it's the thinking of a child, but I'm not sure I myself ever thought that way as a child.

The short version is that it's another "there was a cat on me" movie. He was all warm and snuggly. It's been a bit chilly of late, so I was under the blankets. I'd already gotten up twice to turn off movies, and doing so again would have meant that D would go away again. This is often a cause for my finishing movies I wouldn't have ordinarily. I have never been a dog person, though there was a time when I wanted one. A dog still wasn't as good as a cat. Where we live right now, I can't have dogs even if I wanted them, but there are very few places which won't let you have a cat. And, yes, he has occasionally done me the favour of pinning me down and making me watch movies I didn't enjoy at first but which end well after all. He himself used to be such a great fan of [i]Good Eats[/i] that he would watch every minute of it. The best part was that he'd leave the room during the commercials and come running back to catch the show. And I have told you all of this because I have nothing more to say about the movie.
November 6, 2010
good and pretty nice , i love the music~
½ January 3, 2010
This shows how you can make a very effective film on a miniscule budget. It?s sweet and simple, very believably done and presented. The acting by the unprofessional cast is very natural and convincing. Great score that enhances the film.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2009
As twilight descends on coney island, you can almost taste the salt water air and feel the cool ocean breeze on your cheek. The movie is less a character study and more a day in the life of a boy at a very specific time and place. Rather than a plot taking us along to it's pre-determined destination, things merely happen, and we bear silent witness to it. It's a simple story of two brothers, maybe aged 6 and 11, and the older brother tricks the younger into thinking he's killed him, thus sending the younger brother on the run. He goes to Coney island, and spends a couple of days on the beach and on the boardwalk, drowning his sorrow in junk food and pony rides. Directed by Morris Engel and Ray Ashley, the film has all the quality of an artistic (not artsy-fartsy) documentary, there's very little in the way of script of plot, it's basically an exercise in film and subject matter. And yet, somewhere in the midst of all this artistic vision, a tender story comes out and forms a touching image. It's almost impossible not to see this as a real life story, and it's also almost impossible not to fall in love with the little boy. The charm of this document and it's by-gone era lies with the people it photographs, and as a snapshot of Coney Island and New York, it's almost a love letter.
Page 1 of 3