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Poster for the theatrical run of the 1953 American film Little Fugitive/Joseph Burnstyn Inc.

First American indie film to open Orkin/Engel exhibit at Mad Rose Gallery


On Saturday, Nov. 18, at 3:30 p.m. at The Moviehouse, “Little Fugitive” will be featured in a free showing as an introduction to the work of Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel at the nearby Mad Rose Gallery.

The 1953 Silver Lion award-winning short film follows the exploits of a 7-year-old boy who runs away after he is cruelly pranked into believing he has murdered his brother. In a way almost unthinkable today, he ranges far and wide in Coney Island’s amusement park, captured in evocative black-and-white cinematography of a New York that no longer exists.

As noted in the gallery’s press release: “Also screened will be “Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life,” a documentary directed by their daughter Mary Engel that offers an intimate look at Orkin’s life, her creative process, and the enduring impact of her work. Mary will be present for a Q&A after both films.”

A reception at Mad Rose Gallery, 5916 North Elm Ave. (Route 22) at the corner of Main Street, will follow the screenings. The iconic married couple, who began as collaborators, were active in the period from the late 1930s through the 1980s. They are recognized as having broken new ground in both moving pictures and still photography. 

One of Orkin’s best-known images, “American Girl in Italy,” is emblematic of her gift for capturing a moment in time, often with a touch of humor as well as an eye for detail, in street scenes as well as portraits.

Her husband, Engel, likewise an accomplished photographer from an early age, served in the Navy in World War II under Edward Steichen, and was an influential figure in independent filmmaking. With a friend, he had designed the first handheld 35mm camera based on the bulkier, heavier ones that had been used by the military in World War II.

The exhibit extends until Sunday, Dec. 31. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. To assure seating for the films, see the gallery’s website for tickets.

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