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Little Fugitive

Little Fugitive(1953)


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Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgments: "We wish to thank STEEPLECHASE and the CONEY ISLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE for their cooperation." This film was shot on location in Brooklyn and at Coney Island, NY. Co-directors Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin were married at the time of production. According to a 1954 interview with filmmakers Ray Ashley and Orkin, production costs were $87,000, of which $1,000 was spent on music; lead performer Richie Andrusco, who had never acted before, was paid $250 per week. An unidentified, but contemporary magazine article in the AMPAS Library file on the film, noted that Andrusco was "discovered" by Orkin and Engel while the boy was riding a carousel at Coney Island.
       According to an article in Saturday Review (of Literature), the filmmakers consulted with child psychologists at the Bank Street School in order to evoke the most natural responses from their child actors. Little Fugitive was awarded the Silver Lion of St. Mark at the 1953 International Venice Film Festival and a Silver Ribbon for best non-Italian film of the year. The picture received nominations for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story and Best Written Drama by the Screen Writers' Guild. A modern source quoted French filmmaker Franois Truffaut as stating 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." In a 1979 interview in New York Daily News, Engel said that Little Fugitive marked the first theatrical release of a film shot with a handheld 35mm movie camera.