Orkin developed an early interest in film while growing up in Hollywood. She was the daughter of a silent movie actress, and the first messenger girl at MGM Studios. Orkin wanted to become a cinematographer; however, women were not allowed to join the union. It was not until the 1950’s when she and her husband Morris Engel (see below) made their first independent feature film “Little Fugitive.” Truffaut credited the film with helping to start the French New Wave. Engel and Orkin made a second film in 1955, “Lovers and Lollipops” Both films have won many awards and are currently showing on American Movie Classics (AMC). Kino International is also distributing them on videocassette. “Little Fugitive” was recently added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. 

Frames of Life (1995)

Frames of Life (1995) 18 minutes

(to see full film, go to RUTH AT 100 section on this website) 

Written, produced and Directed by Mary Engel
Additional Photography: Morris Engel
Production Consultant: Darryl Zudeck
Music Direction: Donna Weng Friedman

  • World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival 1996
  • Selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as “Outstanding Documentary of 1996”
  • Narrated by Julie Harris
  • Interviews with Mary Ellen Mark, Cornell Capa, Ninalee Craig, Morris Engel and Evelyne Daitz. 

Little Fugitive (1953, B/W)

Little Fugitive 1953, B/W, 80 Min.

Written and Directed by Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin and Ray Ashley
Starring Richie Andrusco and Rickie Brewster.

Nominated for an Academy Award for best motion picture story and winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

A seven-year old boy named Joey (Richie Andrusco) runs away to Coney Island after being tricked into thinking he’s killed his older brother Lennie (Rickie Brewster). Joey’s adventures and Lennie’s search for his lost little brother make for a charming adventure that chronicles 1950’s New York in perfect detail. From the view under the boardwalk to a summer storm that clears the beach, Engel’s camera never fails to register the moments that create a magical atmosphere. 

Lovers And Lollipops (1955, B/W)

Lovers And Lollipops 1955, B/W, 82 Min.

Written and Directed by Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin
Starring Cathy Dunn, Lori March and Gerald O’Loughlin.

Lovers and Lollipops is the story of seven-year-old Peggy (Cathy Dunn), her widowed mother Ann (Lori March), and her mother’s new boyfriend, Larry (Gerald O’Loughlin). Like Little Fugitive, Lovers and Lollipops captures the little dramas that make up real life, and showcases New York landmarks including Central park, the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, the Bronx Zoo, and the Macy’s toy department.