The Outsiders (film)

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The Outsiders
Outsidersposter.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Gray Frederickson
Fred Roos
Screenplay by Kathleen Rowell
Based on The Outsiders 
by S. E. Hinton
Starring
Music by Carmine Coppola
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Edited by Anne Goursaud
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • March 25, 1983 (1983-03-25)
Running time
90 minutes (original theatrical version)
114 minutes (2005 complete novel version)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $33.7 million

The Outsiders is a 1983 American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, an adaptation of the 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.[1]

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. Emilio Estevez went on to be in That Was Then... This Is Now, the only S. E. Hinton film adaptation not to star Matt Dillon.[2]

The movie received mostly positive reviews from critics, and performed well at the box office, grossing $33 million on a $10 million budget.

Plot[edit]

The story begins with Ponyboy Curtis (Howell) writing a school report about his recent experiences growing up in 1965 Tulsa, Oklahoma. His friends, the Greasers, are a gang of tough, low-income middle-class teens. The gang includes 14-year-old Ponyboy and his two older brothers, Sodapop (Lowe) and Darrell "Darry" (Swayze), as well as Johnny (Macchio), Dallas "Dally" Winston (Dillon), Two-Bit Matthews (Estevez), and Steve Randle (Cruise). Their long-term rivalry is with the Socs, a gang of wealthier kids from the other side of town. Two Socs, Bob Sheldon (Garrett) and Randy Anderson (Dalton), confront Johnny, Ponyboy, and Two-Bit, who are strolling with and talking to the Socs' girlfriends, Cherry (Lane) and Marcia (Meyrink), after watching a movie at a drive-in theater. The girls defuse the situation by going back with the Socs.

Ponyboy and Johnny fall asleep in the parking lot where Ponyboy dreams of his deceased parents. Awakened by Johnny, he worriedly heads home fearing Darrel's frustration. As he fears, Darrel is angry with him for coming home late. Sodapop draws himself into the argument, resulting in Darrel hitting Ponyboy. Emotionally hurt by Darrel's assault, Ponyboy flees his home and finds Johnny. The two boys head to the park.

Ponyboy and Johnny are soon attacked in the park by Bob, Randy, and three other Socs. They kick Johnny to the ground and grab Ponyboy and attempt to drown him by dunking him in the park fountain, making him temporarily unconscious. When they attempt to drown Ponyboy, Johnny pulls out his switchblade and stabs Bob to death, while the other Socs quickly flee to the police. After regaining consciousness and learning what has happened, Ponyboy goes with Johnny in search of Dally's help.

On Dally's advice, and the fact that murderers in Oklahoma will be executed on the electric chair, Ponyboy and Johnny flee on a cargo train, and hide out in an abandoned church on Jay Mountain in Windrixville. Both boys cut their hair and Ponyboy bleaches his with peroxide in order to mask their descriptions. The boys pass the time playing poker, and Ponyboy reads Gone with the Wind and quotes the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay". After a few days, Dally arrives with more food supply and a letter for Ponyboy from Soda. When driving them to a town to buy more food for takeout, he gives them the news that Cherry has offered to support the boys in court, that he told the police that Johnny and Pony were in Texas. Hearing this, Johnny decides to turn himself in, which Dally protests. They return to find the church on fire with school children on a field trip trapped inside. The three boys rescue the kids from the burning church, but as Johnny tries to get out, he gets hit by falling wood from above. Dally manages to put the fire out from the thick jacket from Ponyboy and manages to save Johnny just as the front of the church collapses. Ponyboy and Dally recover soon after. Johnny, on the other hand, ends up with a broken back and severe burns. Ponyboy is soon reunited with his brothers at the hospital. The boys are praised for their heroism, but Johnny is to be charged with manslaughter for killing Bob, while Ponyboy may be sent to a foster home.

Bob's death has sparked calls from the Socs for "a rumble," to which the Greasers agree. Both sides also agree to a temporary truce until the night it happens. Just before the night of the fight, Randy, one of the Socs, has a word with Ponyboy, briefly discussing the boys rescue of the children, Johnny's fate and the future of both gangs. The conversation ends with Randy thanking Ponyboy for talking to him. Ponyboy and Two-Bit are also later met by Cherry who informs them that the Socs are going by a no-weapons agreement to the upcoming fight and asking about Johnny's condition. Ponyboy is briefly upset at Cherry for declining his request to visit him, reminding him how he killed Bob, but she clears up the misunderstanding and they leave each other with respect.

That night all the friends meet up at Ponyboy's house from where they head to the scene of the massive fight, where they meet with other groups of Greasers. Soon after, the Socs arrive in their expensive cars and one of them turns out to be an old friend of Darrel's. The fight erupts shortly followed by a rainfall and the Greasers turning out victorious.

Dally drives Ponyboy to the hospital to visit Johnny and break the news of their victory. 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, Dally robs a grocery store. Pursued by the police, he is surrounded in a park and the police kill him after he repeatedly refuses to drop his unloaded gun. 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 as it began, with Ponyboy writing a school report about his experiences.

Cast[edit]

Greasers

Socs

Others

Production[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4] Coppola filmed The Outsiders and Rumble Fish back-to-back in 1982. 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 fortunately doused.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was met with generally positive reviews from critics and audiences, and is considered by some as one of the best films of 1983. Rotten Tomatoes gives The Outsiders a 65% "Fresh" rating on its site. One recent book said that the film's realistic portrayal of poor teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks "created a new kind of filmmaking".[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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".[7] Francis Ford Coppola was nominated for the Golden Prize at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival.[8]

"The Complete Novel" re-release[edit]

In September 2005, Coppola re-released the film on DVD, including 22 minutes of additional footage and new music, as The Outsiders: The Complete Novel. Coppola re-inserted some deleted scenes to make the film more faithful to the book. In 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".[9]

The director also removed several scenes in order to improve pacing, but they could be found on the second disc as additional scenes. 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.[10]

Music[edit]

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".

Sequel TV series[edit]

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 films ending but lasted only one season.

References[edit]

External links[edit]