Little Fugitive (1953 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Little Fugitive is a 1953 American film written and directed by Raymond Abrashkin (as Ray Ashley), Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin that tells the story of a child alone on Coney Island.

The film stars Richie Andrusco in the title role of Joey Norton and Richard Brewster as his brother Lennie.

Little Fugitive influenced the French New Wave and is considered by modern-day critics to be a landmark film because of its naturalistic style and groundbreaking use of nonprofessional actors in lead roles. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story and screened at Venice film festival where it was awarded the silver lion.

In 1997, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

It was the first and best known of Engel's three feature films. It was followed by Lovers and Lollipops in 1956 and Weddings and Babies, filmed in 1957 and released in 1960. All three films were similar stylistically and were filmed with hand-held 35 mm. cameras. The cameras used in the first two movies did not record sound, and dialogue was dubbed subsequent to filming. Weddings and Babies was the first fiction feature filmed with a portable camera that allowed synchronized sound.


Joey Norton, seven years old, lives with his older brother Lennie in a lower-middle-class neighborhood of Brooklyn. Joey is too small to be taken seriously by Lennie and Lennie's friends.

One day, while their mother is away visiting her sick mother, Lennie and his friends play a joke on Joey. They stage an incident using catsup and a toy gun, so that Joey thinks he has shot and killed his brother.

Joey, who is told the police will catch and imprison him, runs to the nearest elevated train station and flees to Coney Island. He seems to forget his predicament and spends the day wandering around the arcades, pony rides, beach—a little boy's paradise. He gets money for snacks by cashing in deposit bottles and spends the night sleeping under the boardwalk. Meanwhile, Lennie is frantically trying to find him as their mother is due home soon.

Joey loves horses, and he begins hanging around a pony ride. The proprietor of the ride becomes suspicious that Joey is a runaway. He tricks Joey into giving him his address. He calls home and alerts Lennie. Lennie comes to Coney Island, and after a frantic search, finds little Joey.

Their mother returns just after the two brothers arrive home. She is unaware of what happened, and pleased that her two sons behaved so well during her absence, says they will have a treat that weekend: a trip to Coney Island!


  • Richie Andrusco as Joey Norton
  • Richard Brewster as Lennie Norton
  • Winifred Cushing as Mother
  • Jay Williams as Jay the Pony Ride Man
  • Will Lee as Photographer
  • Charlie Moss as Harry
  • Tommy DeCanio as Charley

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Little Fugitive (1953 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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