Little Fugitive is a black and white film that debuted on September 6, 1953, in the United States.
When the show opens, we are introduced to seven year old Joey Norton (Richie Andrusco) and his twelve year old brother, Lennie (Richard Brewster), who reside in Brooklyn, New York, with their mother (Winifred Cushing).
The mother receives an urgent message that her mother is ill and in need of a caregiver. So she decides to travel to her house and take care of her until she gets back on her feet, but that means leaving Lennie and Joey alone. Lennie feels hurt by his mother’s sudden departure and the heavy burden of taking care of Joey.
Joey feels sorry for Lennie because he knows that his birthday is coming up soon and he had plans to go to Coney Island, so he gives Lennie a poorly wrapped gift, which contains a ragged baseball, but that did not soften the pain.
Lennie and his friends devise a stratagem that would convince Joey into thinking that he shot and killed Lennie with a real pistol, but in truth it is would only be a plastic toy gun, filled with catsup.
Once Joey falls for the trick and shoots Lennie, he is shocked by the sight of the blood. Lennie’s friends taunt him and tell him that the police will take him away when they find out about his misdeeds. He flees to the train station and heads to Coney Island.
Once Joey lands in Coney Island, he is immediately drawn to the pony stable. He gave the Pony Ride Man (Jay Williams) a quarter to ride the ponies around an oval track. The man is immediately impressed with how well Joey handles himself on and around the ponies. Joey continues to ride until he runs out of money and then he takes off to explore the rest of Coney Island.
Joey ends up on the beach and notices a boy collecting glass bottles. He follows the boy and sees that he sells the bottles, for a nickel each, to a man behind a large counter. So Joey in turn starts to collect bottles and sell them, until he gets enough to ride the ponies again. He continues this action for the rest of the day and the following day.
When Linnie returns home, he immediately becomes upset that Joey is no where to be found. The following morning he receives a phone call from the Pony Ride Many, who had tricked Joey into giving him his address, telling him where Joey can be found.
Lennie heads to the train station, but is constantly reminded of the clock ticking down to the time, when his mother is expected to return back home. He searches all over for Joey until he finds him on the beach collecting bottles. Joey is so confused but happy to see Lennie, they embrace and head to the train station.
After returning home, Lennie changes clothes and helps Joey change his. They have everything cleaned up when their mother walks in the door. The mother is thankful for their good behavior and she gives them a free trip to Coney Island.
This clever little movie is a must see. It allows you to see inside the mind of a young child, and see how they react to different circumstances. Richie Andrusco is superb in his big role as Joey and the producers did an excellent job in choosing their main cast. This film also shows us how difficult being a single mother can truly be and how responsibility can be and is often transferred to the older sibling. While this film had a little budget, it had a very big heart.
One must think about how terribly old this film is when giving it a rating. Although there was not much verbal dialogue, Joey’s actions and activities during his trip to Coney Island, was enough said. This film deserves an 8.5 out of 10.