Home Video Reviews
Francois Truffaut once wrote that "our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn't been for the young Morris Engel..with his fine Little Fugitive" and it's easy to see the influence of Engel's film on Truffaut's directorial debut feature, The 400 Blows (1959), particularily in the sequence where Antoine Doinel runs away from home. Engel was a former still photographer who became a forerunner of the New York independent filmmaking movement with Little Fugitive. The film's remarkably fresh and improvisational style was unique for its time and won international acclaim, eventually winning the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It also was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture Story and in 1997 was inducted to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board. Its success on the theatrical circuit allowed Engel to make two more highly original, offbeat films - Lovers and Lollipops (1955) and Weddings and Babies (1958); the latter film was particularly significant since it was shot on location in New York City using a portable synchronous sound camera.
One of the real surprises of Little Fugitive is little Richie Andrusco whose pugnacious manner and wide-eyed response to the overstimulation of Coney Island is a joy to behold. Where are you now, Richie? For those who purchase the DVD, you'll get an audio commentary by director Engel who fills you in on the genesis of the film and various production details. The other extra feature is the original theatrical trailer which should bring a smile to your face. For more information about Little Fugitive, visit Kino International. To purchase a copy of Little Fugitive, visit Movies Unlimited.