Little Fugitive (1953)

Genres - Adventure, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, Adventure Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 2, 1953 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Little Fugitive has often been cited as a formative influence on both the American independent film movement and the French New Wave, which is reason enough to make it worth a view. But the rarely-seen and far too little-known Fugitive would be well worth seeking out even had it not had such a "ripple" effect on other filmmakers. This is a gentle, charming masterpiece, a slice-of-life drama that deals with the everyday and the mundane yet finds a genuine poetry in it. That may make Fugitive sound pretentious, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is instead utterly engaging, a film with heart and soul yet one that doesn't devolve into the cloying manipulation so often associated with films about kids. It's a stunning yet very quiet film; if "feel good film" hadn't devolved into a cliché due to its use with far lesser films, I'd apply that label to Fugitive. Much of the film's success is due to the remarkably natural, candid and unassuming performance of little Richie Andrusco in the title role. It's a beautiful performance, free of affectation and superficiality. The filmmaking team of Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley, jointly sharing a whole range of responsibilities, meshes together into a unified whole to create a movie with a startling vividness and vivacity, rich in details and filled with gorgeously composed shots. Fugitive is tiny in scale but enormous in effect.