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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Little Fugitive [Blu-ray]

 

(Ray Ashley, Morris Engel, 1953)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Little Fugitive Production Company

Video: Kino Classics

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:20:49.761

Disc Size: 35,878,501,735 bytes

Feature Size: 24,534,773,568 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.92 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 26th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Commentary by director Morris Engel

'Morris Engel: The Independent (28:38)

• Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life (18:19)

• Theatrical Trailer (1:52)

• Image Gallery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: 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. ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE - BEST STORY (Original Screenplay).

 

 

The Film:

A lyrical serio-comedy from the writing/directing team of Ray Ashley, Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, The Little Fugitive stars young Richie Andrusco as Joey Norton, a seven-year-old Brooklynite left in the care of his 12-year-old brother Lennie (Ricky Brewster). Finding the boy to be a constant annoyance, Lennie and his friends devise a plan to make Joey mistakenly believe that he has killed his brother; the prank is successful, and a frightened Joey flees for the fantasy-world refuge of Coney Island. A lost classic waiting to be rediscovered, The Little Fugitive was highly acclaimed upon its initial release, scoring an Oscar nomination for "Best Screenplay" as well as sharing a Silver Lion award at the 1953 Venice Film Festival alongside such legendary fare as Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu Monogatari. Shot on an extremely low budget, the film's innovative use of hand-held cameras and staccato editing techniques establish a rough-and-tumble, documentary-like edge perfectly attuned to its incisive, realistic treatment of childhood wonderment and fear.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Morris Engel and his collaborator (and, later, wife) Ruth Orkin are hardly household names, but they are in many ways the proud parents of the American independent scene, birthed with their first film, the 1953 production Little Fugitive. Shot on a minuscule budget with non-actors on location (largely at Coney Island), the film chronicles the adventures of the seven-year-old Joey who panics after his brother perpetrates a vicious prank, making the little boy think he has killed him in a gun accident. Joey (Richie Andrusco, a kid Engel cast right from the streets) runs away to Coney Island where he gets lost in the crowds and takes refuge under the boardwalk. It's a more innocent time and there is little (if any) peril to his predicament, no more than the fear of losing his trousers when he abandons them to take a swim. When an overtly friendly employee at the pony rides starts to get chummy and then suspicious when he notices Joey keeps showing up without any parents, it's all out of genuine concern for a little boy lost.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Little Fugitive surfaces on Blu-ray from Kino in an impressive 1080P transfer.  The black and white image quality shows some grit and a sharp uptick in detail from the previous DVD. Contrast is the story of the improvement.  This is dual-layered and a pleasure to see this particular film benefit so substantially from the move to HD. There are but a scant few inconsistencies (subtle banding) that never hindered the pleasing presentation. Many scenes even exhibited depth. This Blu-ray has exported wonderful film-like visuals retaining some grain texture. Overall, I was extremely pleased with my viewing.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Unfortunately the linear PCM 2.0 channel stereo at 2304 kbps doesn't benefit the frequently awkward post-dubbing. This was the same issue as the original DVD and I don't doubt the print source utilized. It seems quite probable to be inherent in the film presentation. Looking on the positive - it seems to add to the verité aura of Coney island. Its is flat and unremarkable. There are no subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

I'm only going by memory but I believe thee are the same supplements on the older Kino DVD with the feature-length commentary by director Morris Engel and the 2008 video pieces 'Morris Engel: The Independent' narrated by his widow Mary Engel running almost 1/2 hour (this looks new to me and may not have been on the DVD) and a 1996 documentary entitled Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life lasting about 20-minutes and directed by Mary Engel. It is a chronology of the life and work of Ruth Orkin (1921-1985) with Julie Harris narrating. There is also a theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Little Fugitive remains a perfect gem now, 60-years, after its release. This is infinitely superior the original DVD and a great film to have on Blu-ray in my opinion. I doubt we're going to see it looking any better and I, whole-heartedly, recommend! 

Gary Tooze

March 13th, 2013

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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