The Outsiders

The Outsiders

Based on the popular 1967 book written by fifteen-year-old author, S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders told the story of a group of rebel teens, raised on the wrong side of tracks, who butt heads with an affluent rival group. Besides being a moving coming-of-age story, and much to the delight of young girls everywhere, a cast of virtually every rising teen idol was assembled to melt their hearts and jerk the tears from their pretty faces.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1983, The Outsiders was reset in Tulsa, Oklahoma (and filmed on location there), circa 1950-something – conjuring up memories of such classics as Rebel Without a Cause. On one side of the spectrum are the “Soc’s,” who dress in expensive clothing and drive polished Mustangs, and the more unkempt Greasers (based on their heavily-pomade-laden hair) who prefer their rolled-up tee shirts and faded Levi’s look.

The narrator of the story, a lad named Ponyboy, lives with his older (and somewhat greasier) brothers, Sodapop and Darry, following a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of their parents. Their adult-less home becomes Greaser headquarters for the entire clan of misfits.

The rival groups of teens tend to stay away from one another, but a line is crossed when Ponyboy earns the affection of Cherry, one of the Soc’s girls. Soon, Ponyboy and his buddy, Johnny, are ambushed by a pair of the affluent bullies in a local park. As they are attempting to drown Ponyboy, Johnny comes to the rescue, stabbing one of the youths. As a result, the two boys are forced to go into hiding in an abandoned church, where they dye their hair, share their angst and chain-smoke the hours away.

At one point, the duo leaves their temporary dwelling, only to return and find it engulfed in flames – with a bunch of kids trapped inside. The two heroically save the little tykes, but Johnny is badly burned as a result and hospitalized. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing among both groups of teens, one that is soon to culminate into an old fashioned rumble. The Greasers have the edge, however, as they are fighting this one for Johnny.

The cast of The Outsiders was pulled straight from Teen Beat magazine. With a lineup that included Tom Cruise, Emilio Esteves, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, and even a “blast from the past” heartthrob, Leif Garrett, there was eye-candy aplenty for the herds of teenage girls that flooded the theaters. Tom Waits (not from Teen Beat) also made an appearance, along with the author of the book the film was based upon. To lend authenticity to the rivalry in the film, Coppola reportedly sequestered both sets of actors into their own groups off the set – with the affluent side given luxurious accommodations and scripts bound in leather, and the misfits given cheap rooms and shabby scripts.

Boasting beautiful cinematography and a stellar musical score, including the title track “Stay Gold” performed by Stevie Wonder, The Outsiders offered a moving tale of rich vs. poor and a message of staying true to who you are – all of which managed to create a fondly remembered coming-of-age fable that remains popular to this day.

A short-lived television series was broadcast in 1990 and the film was re-released in 2005, with 22-minutes of additional footage to bring the story more in line with the plot of the novel. And, while all of the stars are now well into adulthood, there are a heck of a lot of former teenage girls out there who fondly recall the film that hosted the finest collection of heartthrobs ever assembled.

If you have fond memories of seeing The Outsiders, maybe you even shed a few tears while watching it, we’d love to hear your memories of this beloved movie in our comments section below.

3 Responses to “The Outsiders”

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  1. jennifer harris says:

    I would love to own this movie on dvd,it is so good!

  2. giressta says:

    hey just so you know i have to read the book and i am excited because everyone who read it loved it and there is not one person that doesnt i hope i get to see the movie soon!

  3. Dave Philpott says:

    In the top promo picture, look at Patrick Swayze; he’s standing on bricks to make himself taller. I guess you can’t have the oldest brother be shorter than everyone else!

    By the way, I’m pretty sure this movie wasn’t set in the Fifties era, as the first Mustang was a ’64 1/2. Some of the clothes and hairstyles certainly look Fifties, though.

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