Little Fugitive

starts August 20th at Sag Harbor Cinema.

Q&A with Mary Engel on August 23, following the 7pm screening


“Our New Wave would never have come into being, if it hadn’t been for the young American, Morris Engel who showed us the way with his production, Little Fugitive.”

-François Truffaut


Sag Harbor, NY – Sag Harbor Cinema continues its Kids and Families program with a one week run of the classic of American independent cinema Little Fugitive, in which a little boy, tricked into believing he has killed his older brother, runs away to Coney Island. The Academy award nominated film was written and directed by Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, who married during the production, along with Ray Ashley. Engel, whose rare and extraordinary films include Lovers and Lollipops and Weddings and Babies, shot the film himself on a shoestring budget, capturing the magical atmosphere of New York in the 50s and the exotic wonders of Coney Island’s Luna Park as seen through the eyes of his seven year old lead, Richie Andrusco. 

The filmmakers cast non-actor children and made great use of summer street life in order to obtain the film’s natural feel. Engel’s fluid, mostly handheld, camera style was pioneering at the time for a 35mm theatrical release. Its profound influence can be seen not only in the American independent cinema to come, but also overseas. It premiered at the International Venice Film Festival in 1953, where it won the Silver Lion and a Silver Ribbon for best non-Italian film of the year. François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is widely considered to have been inspired by Engel and Orkin’s masterpiece. 

“The Little Fugitive is one the great films about New York, and one of the great films about summer. It is also brilliant, visionary filmmaking in its perfect balance between a pioneering, realistic style and fairy tale atmosphere. And it speaks of the universal power of the best cinema, which makes it an ideal choice for our Kids and Family series. I am thrilled to share it with our audiences and to have an opportunity to salute Ruth Orkin’s Centennial in the presence of Mary Engel, who has done so much to preserve the memory of her parents’ work,” says Sag Harbor Cinema’s Artistic Director Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan.  

Mary Engel, the daughter of Orkin and Engel, who runs the Orkin Engel Archive, will participate in a Q&A about the film and her parents’ legacy following the August 23rd screening at 7pm. The discussion will be moderated by Artistic Director, Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan.

This historically rich film will begin a new season of the Kids and Families Matinees, which will include other films such as Peter Rabbit 2, My Life as Zucchini, The Jungle Book (1967), and James and the Giant Peach.

This screening will be in collaboration with Ruth Orkin’s Centennial, celebrating the 100th year after the noted photographer’s birth. Tickets will be available on Sag Harbor Cinema’s website,

The Little Fugitive

Dir. Ruth Orkin, Morris Engel, and Ray Ashley

USA, 1953; 80 mins, in English

Widely regarded as one of the most influential and enjoyable films of the American independent cinema, Little Fugitive is an utterly charming fable that poetically captures the joys and wonders of childhood.

When a seven-year-old boy (Richie Andrusco) is tricked into believing he killed his older brother, he gathers his meager possessions and flees to New York’s nether wonderland: Coney Island. Upon and beneath the crowded boardwalk, Joey experiences a day and night filled with adventures and mysteries, resulting in a film that is refreshingly spontaneous and thoroughly delightful. 


Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin


About Morris Engel

Morris Engel was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 8, 1918. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School and joined the Photo League in 1936 where he met Aaron Siskind and Paul Strand who became major influences in his life. He worked on the paper PM, and then enlisted in the Navy, where he was a combat photographer. He later did many magazine picture stories in the late 40’s. He also made films, and his classic film, LITTLE FUGITIVE was released in 1953. He shot several more features, and later worked with video.


About Ruth Orkin

Ruth Orkin was an award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker. Orkin was the only child of Mary Ruby, a silent-film actress, and Samuel Orkin, a manufacturer of toy boats called Orkin Craft. She grew up in Hollywood in the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 10, she received her first camera, a 39 cent Univex. Orkin married the photographer and filmmaker Morris Engel in 1952. Together they produced two feature films, including the classic “Little Fugitive” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953. From their New York apartment overlooking Central Park, Orkin photographed marathons, parades, concerts, demonstrations, and the beauty of the changing seasons. These photographs were the subject of two widely acclaimed books, “A World Through My Window” and “More Pictures From My Window.” 


About the Archive

The Morris Engel archive is run by his daughter, Mary Engel. Many of the photographs on the website are available for licensing or for purchase. His 3 feature films are available on the DVD boxset “The Films of Morris Engel” or for 16mm or 35mm film rental.


All upcoming Kids and Families Matinees:



Directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar

Belgium, 2009; 75 mins, in French with English subtitles

Rated TV-PG

Plays 8/28 & 8/29

This Belgian stop-motion feature combines stylized animation with an anarchic narrative. When Cowboy and Indian come up with a brilliant idea for Mr Horse’s birthday, their plan ends up in utter disaster. They then travel the world and back to make things right again.



Dir. Claude Barras

France, 2017; 70 mins, in French with English subtitles

Rated PG-13

Plays 9/4 & 9/5

Based on a French children’s book. a young orphan clings to the nickname his mother gave him in Claude Barras’ debut film. After losing his mother, the boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.



Dir. Will Gluck

USA, 2021; 85 mins, in English

Rated PG

Plays 9/11 & 9/12

Based on Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s books, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway expands the narrative world of the 2018 film. Bea, Thomas, and the rabbits have created a makeshift family, but despite his best efforts, Peter can’t seem to shake his mischievous reputation. Adventuring out of the garden, Peter finds himself in a world where his mischief is appreciated, but when his family risks everything to come looking for him, Peter must decide out what kind of bunny he wants to be.



Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman

USA, 1967; 89 mins, in English

Rated PG

Plays 9/18 & 9/19

In this classic Walt Disney animation based on Rudyard Kipling’s book, Mowgli, an abandoned child raised by wolves, has his peaceful existence threatened by the return of the man-eating tiger Shere Khan (voiced by George Sanders). Facing certain death, Mowgli must overcome his reluctance to leave his wolf family and return to the “man village.” But he is not alone on his quest: Aided by Bagheera the panther, and later by the carefree bear Balloo (Phil Harris), he braves the jungle’s many perils.



Dir. Henry Selick

USA, 1996; 84 mins, in English

Rated PG

Plays 9/25 & 9/26

Featuring stop-motion animation and live action, this inventive adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s tale follows the adventures of James (Paul Terry), an orphaned young British boy. Forced to live with his cruel aunts (Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes), James finds a way out of his bleak existence when he discovers an enormous enchanted peach. After rolling into the sea inside the buoyant fruit, James, accompanied by a crew of friendly talking insects, sets sail for New York City.



Dir. Peter Sohn

USA, 2015; 100 mins, in English

Rated PG

Plays 10/2 & 10/3

From the innovative storytellers and expert animators at Disney•Pixar, The Good Dinosaur asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In this epic journey into the world of dinosaurs —told against a mountainous backdrop inspired by Anthony Mann’s westerns— an apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.


Sag Harbor Cinema

Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, a not-for-profit organization established to rebuild, maintain, and operate the historic Sag Harbor Cinema, is dedicated to showcasing the past, present, and future of the moving image. Sag Harbor Cinema is located at 90 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY. For tickets go to



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