Little Fugitive

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Reviews Counted: 15

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User Ratings: 880


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

A boy from Brooklyn, wrongly led to believe that he killed another child with his rifle by an 'ornery older brother, flees to the fantasy and fun of Coney Island to escape in this all-but forgotten drama that proves that big budgets and studios are not always needed to create a memorable, internationally distinguished gem. The story remains most notable for its offbeat treating of the child not as an adorable Hollywood moppet, but as a real little boy, simultaneously afraid that he really hurt someone, and thrilled to be alone in the famed amusement park.

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Critic Reviews for Little Fugitive

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4)

At its core, this pioneering independent film, from 1953, is just an urban heart-warmer, but it has a fresh, gritty surface and a Grade A horror-comic hook ...

Oct 6, 2014 | Full Review…

That the filmmakers were able to make "Little Fugitive" at all is kind of miraculous, but the miraculousness has its limits.

Mar 5, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Like childhood itself, it's over before you're ready to let it go.

Jan 29, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

An underseen indie-film landmark and an invaluable artifact of local history to boot.

Apr 19, 2005 | Full Review…

[VIDEO ESSAY] Made in 1953 by three confident filmmakers, "Little Fugitive" is as much an invaluable filmic document of post World War II New York as it is an enchanting incipient work of independent cinema.

Oct 28, 2014 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

...a charmer from another age.

Feb 28, 2013 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Little Fugitive


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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer


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

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

No frills look at kids growing up in 1950's New York City. The unpolished style adds to its charm and ambiance.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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