I’ve been itching and itching for months to revisit the world of 1950s Tulsa in S.E. Hinton’s classic youth novel, seen through Francis Ford Coppola, that is The Outsiders, and finally got a chance to see one of my favorites when I was a teenager.
I loved The Outsiders (1983) and anything else connected to S.E. Hinton as a kid growing up. The main reason I loved her books, and the films based on them, is they were set in Oklahoma. I truly loved seeing something, anything, set in the world and the surroundings I felt a deep familiarity at the time. Add in the fact I was a teenager reading about other teenagers only increased my enjoyment level.
Flash forward to the present and watching the newly released director’s cut (with 22 minutes of new footage added to it) of a film I haven’t seen in at least in a decade and a half. Is it still as beloved a film as I remember it being? In a word: yes!
The Outsiders moved me when I was a kid and it still does despite some negatives popping up I didn’t notice when I was a kid. One big issue is some over-acting done by some of the cast who were largely a group of unknowns or just beginners. The story does get a tad hokey and melodramatic at times, but to be completely honest, that’s part of the charm of S.E. Hinton’s books. They are not full of a lot of grays as the teenagers are full of angst and rage. They are teenagers after all.
This cast is legendary for the amount of future stars: Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell (who for part of the 1980s was as big as any of them), Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Ralph Macchio were all Greasers and Leif Garrett and Diane Lane play two Socs. Tell me that isn’t just a ridiculous cast assembled for The Outsiders.
One of the coolest things about this film is it begins and ends with shots of The Circle (with a Paul Newman picture playing) and it has some terrific Admiral Twin Drive-In footage that moves me to no end. Put a drive-in in a movie (especially one I really love and have been to since I was a kid) and I’m a happy camper.
I loved seeing parts of Tulsa that you wouldn’t normally see—the blue collar, untainted by chains Tulsa that I wish was still more prevalent. A few place in the film have gone the way of the wrecking ball. Sadly, twenty years can erase a lot of architecture as the chain ideology swallows up all hints of “locality” no matter if its Tulsa or Albuquerque. I know I’m not going out on a limb but chains are evil.
The Outsiders was a favorite of my youth and while still not as powerful, I still really love it, as it's kind of a magical picture for me no matter how old I am when I watch it. Stay gold everybody, stay gold.