Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Produced by||Gray Frederickson|
|Screenplay by||Kathleen Rowell|
|Based on||The Outsiders|
by S. E. Hinton
|Music by||Carmine Coppola|
|Cinematography||Stephen H. Burum|
|Edited by||Anne Goursaud|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Producers Sales Organisation
|Box office||$33.7 million|
The Outsiders is a 1983 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, an adaptation of the 1967 novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. The film was released on March 25, 1983. Jo Ellen Misakian, a librarian at Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno, California, and her students were responsible for inspiring Coppola to make the film.
The film is noted for its cast of up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell (who garnered a Young Artist Award), Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. The film helped spark the Brat Pack genre of the 1980s. Both Lane and Dillon went on to appear in Coppola's related film Rumble Fish; Dillon and Estevez also starred in Tex (1982). Emilio Estevez went on to write and star in That Was Then... This Is Now (1985), the only S. E. Hinton film adaptation not to star Matt Dillon.
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, most notably the performances, particularly Macchio being singled out for praise, and performed well at the box office, grossing $33.7 million on a $10 million budget. The film has remained popular in the years since its release, and is now a cult classic.
In the mid-1960s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, greasers are a gang of tough, low-income working-class teens. They include Ponyboy Curtis and his two older brothers, Sodapop and Darrel, as well as Johnny Cade, Dallas Winston, Two-Bit Matthews, and Steve Randle. Their rivalry is with the Socs, a gang of wealthier kids from the other side of town. Two Socs, Bob Sheldon and Randy Anderson, confront Johnny, Ponyboy, and Two-Bit, who are talking to the Socs' girlfriends, Cherry and Marcia, at a drive-in theater. The girls defuse the situation by going home with the Socs. Later that night, Ponyboy and Johnny are attacked in a park by Bob, Randy, and three other Socs. They begin dunking Ponyboy in a fountain attempting to drown him, but Johnny pulls out his switchblade and stabs Bob to death.
On the advice of Dallas, and knowing that murder in Oklahoma is punishable by death, Ponyboy and Johnny flee on a cargo train, and hide out in an abandoned church in Windrixville. To change their appearances, both boys cut their hair while Ponyboy bleaches his with peroxide. To pass time, the boys play poker and Ponyboy reads Gone with the Wind and quotes the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay". After a few days, Dallas arrives with news that Cherry has offered to support the boys in court, that he told the police that Johnny and Pony were in Texas, and gives Pony a note from Sodapop. They go out to get something to eat, then return to find the church on fire with children trapped inside. The Greasers turn into heroes, rescuing the kids from the burning church. It doesn't take long for Ponyboy and Dally to heal up. Johnny, on the other hand, ends up with a broken back and severe burns. The boys are praised for their heroism, but Johnny is charged with manslaughter for killing Bob, while Ponyboy may be sent to a boys' home.
Bob's death sparked calls from the Socs for "a rumble”. The greasers meet up with Tim Shepard’s gang and arrive to the rumble. The greasers and Socs exchange a few words, and then Dally runs in and punches one. This triggers the beginning, in which the greasers eventually win. After the rumble, Dallas drives an injured Ponyboy to the hospital to visit Johnny. The pair gets pulled over by an officer. He asks them about Ponyboy, in which Dally replies, “The kid fell off his motorcycle.” The officer then gives them an escort to the hospital. They run into Johnny’s hospital room to tell him about the victory, and Johnny is unimpressed by the victory, and dies after telling Ponyboy to "stay gold," referring to the Frost poem. Unable to bear Johnny's death, Dallas wanders through the hospital, pretending to shoot a doctor with his unloaded gun, which clicks harmlessly. He then robs a grocery store with the same gun, but he is shot and wounded by the owner as he flees. Pursued by the police, Dallas is eventually surrounded in a park, then shot and killed. Ponyboy is eventually cleared of wrongdoing in Bob's death and allowed to stay with his brothers. Turning the pages of Johnny's copy of Gone with the Wind, Ponyboy finds a letter from Johnny saying that saving the children was worth sacrificing his own life. The story ends with Ponyboy writing a school report about his experiences.
Flea and Nicolas Cage have uncredited cameos as background Socs. Heather Langenkamp was cast to play Evie, Steve's girlfriend, but her scenes were cut from the final film. Television writer and showrunner Trey Callaway also has an uncredited speaking role as "Soc in Concession Stand."
Francis Ford Coppola had not intended to make a film about teen angst until Jo Ellen Misakian, a school librarian from Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno, California, wrote to him on behalf of her seventh and eighth grade students about adapting The Outsiders. When Coppola read the book, he was moved not only to adapt and direct it, but to follow it the next year by adapting Hinton's novel Rumble Fish. The latter film's cast also included Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, and Glenn Withrow.
The film was shot on location in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Coppola filmed The Outsiders and Rumble Fish back-to-back in 1982—a newspaper, used to show a story about the three greasers saving the kids in The Outsiders, includes a real story from 1982 regarding the death of a man hit by a train in Boston. He wrote the screenplay for the latter while on days off from shooting the former. Many of the same locations were used in both films, as were many of the same cast and crew members. The credits are shown at the beginning of the film in the style normally found in a published play.
Coppola's craving for realism almost led to disaster during the church-burning scene. He pressed for "more fire", and the small, controlled blaze accidentally triggered a much larger, uncontrolled fire, which a downpour doused.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 64% based on 39 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site's consensus reads, "The cracks continue to show in Coppola's directorial style, but The Outsiders remains a blustery, weird, and fun adaptation of the classic novel." Roger Ebert awarded the film two and a half out of four stars, citing problems with Coppola's vision, "the characters wind up like pictures, framed and hanging on the screen."
Authors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, in a 2007 book, wrote that the film's realistic portrayal of poor teenagers "created a new kind of filmmaking, especially about teenagers — a more naturalistic look at how young people talk, act, and experience the world. This movie was one of the few Hollywood offerings to deal realistically with kids from the wrong side of the tracks, and to portray honestly children whose parents had abused, neglected, or otherwise failed them."
The Outsiders was nominated for four Young Artist Awards, given annually since 1978 by the Young Artist Foundation. C. Thomas Howell won for "Best Young Motion Picture Actor in a Feature Film". Diane Lane was nominated for "Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture". The film was nominated for "Best Family Feature Motion Picture". Francis Ford Coppola was nominated for the Golden Prize at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival.
In September 2005, Coppola re-released the film on DVD, including 22 minutes of additional footage and new music, as a 2-disc set called The Outsiders: The Complete Novel. Coppola re-inserted some deleted scenes to make the film more faithful to the book. At the beginning of the film, he added scenes where Ponyboy gets stalked and jumped, the gang talks about going to the movies, Sodapop and Ponyboy talking in their room and Dally, Pony and Johnny bum around before going to the movies. In the end, Coppola added the scenes taking place in court, Mr. Syme talking to Ponyboy, and Sodapop, Ponyboy and Darry in the park. Also, much of the original score was replaced with music popular in the 1960s as well as new music composed by Michael Seifert and Dave Padrutt. The film was re-rated by the MPAA as PG-13 for "violence, teen drinking and smoking, and some sexual references".
Disc 2 of the DVD includes some special features, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast & crew, readings from the novel, additional deleted scenes, the original theatrical trailer, and an NBC News Today segment from 1983 talking about how The Outsiders has inspired teenagers across the world.
The director also removed three scenes that were in the theatrical version in order to improve pacing. Those scenes being: Ponyboy and Johnny looking at their reflections in the lake and talking about their hair, attempting to catch a rabbit, and playing poker. They can be found on the second disc as additional scenes along with other deleted scenes that were filmed but not put into the movie. In addition, Swayze, Macchio, Lane, and Howell gathered at Coppola's estate to watch the re-release, and their commentary is included on the DVD. Dillon and Lowe provided separate commentary.
A Blu-ray edition of The Outsiders: The Complete Novel was released in Region 1 on June 3, 2014.
The original film score was composed by the director's father, Carmine Coppola; the main theme, "Stay Gold", was sung by Stevie Wonder. The original soundtrack included one rock song, Them's "Gloria."
A television series based on the characters of the novel and film aired in 1990. It consists of a different cast playing the same characters. It picks up right after the events of the film's ending but lasted only one season.
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