The Little Fugitive

With Morris Engels' death I took a look at his first film. Was prepared to see something crude, unsophisticated--this predated Cassavetes and the Nouvelle Vague, after all--but what I saw was a lovely little film, not small-scaled, but precisely scaled to the height, sensibility and concerns of the two children. Their feelings of terror, of worry, of ambition, loneliness and loss, small as they may seem relative to the adult world, loom huge and immediate to us, seeing through their eyes.

More, some kids happened by while I was watching and caught the scenes of Joey killing time at Coney Island. The last thing I would expect was that the adventures of a little kid, without plot or the usual mechanics of drama, would interest children, but they were entranced--they worried for him, cheered him on, waited with him as he sat on the sand, wondering what else he can do. The connection was instant and effortless. Amazing.

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