Little Fugitive (The Coney Island Kid ) Reviews
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.
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.