I first stumbled on Morris Engel’s Little Fugitive on late night TV. Immediately transfixed by the tone, I could not take my eyes off the screen.

Made in 1953, Little Fugitive predates French New Wave but shares a style and sensibility with films like Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows from 1959.

Engel’s story, both spare and intimate, tells the almost existential story of a young boy who mistakenly thinks he has killed his brother. Adrift and afraid, the boy goes on the lamb to Coney Island. Heartbreaking and poignant, Little Fugitive, chock full of the tiny details of life, captures the boy’s confused state of mind as he comes to terms with his worst fears.

Also included in The Films of Morris Engel with Ruth Orkin, the equally quotidian and charming Lovers and Lollipops and Weddings and Babies.

Grade: A+

The Films of Morris Engel is currently available.