The Outsiders (film)

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The Outsiders
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola
Screenplay byKathleen Rowell
Based onThe Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton
Produced by
CinematographyStephen H. Burum
Edited byAnne Goursaud
Music byCarmine Coppola
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 25, 1983 (1983-03-25) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes (The Complete Novel)
91 minutes (original cut)
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million
Box office$33.7 million

The Outsiders is a 1983 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is an adaptation of the 1967 novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton and was released on March 25, 1983, in the United States. 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; Dillon and Estevez also starred in Tex (1982). Estevez went on to write and star in That Was Then... This Is Now (1985), the only Hinton film adaptation not to star Dillon.[2]

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, most notably for the performances, with Macchio being singled out for praise. The film performed well at the box office, grossing $33.7 million on a $10 million budget. Over the years, the film has earned a cult following.[3]


In 1965 Tulsa, Oklahoma, greasers Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers, Darrel ("Darry"), and Sodapop ("Soda"), as well as Johnny, Dallas ("Dally"), "Two-Bit", and Steve hang out. Their rivals are the socs (short for socials, pronounced soshes), wealthier kids from the other side of town. The Curtis brothers live together, with Darry taking on a parental role because their parents died in an accident.

While Ponyboy is walking home some socs beat him up. Greasers show up and rescue him. One night, Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally go to a drive-in, where Dally tries to hit on "Cherry". After Dally leaves, Cherry and her friend Marcia invite Ponyboy and Johnny to sit with them. Later, the boys walk the girls home when their boyfriends, Bob and Randy, confront them. Johnny recognizes Bob as a soc who beat him up. The girls defuse the situation by going home with the socs.

When Ponyboy arrives home, Darry yells at and hits him, causing Ponyboy to run away. Ponyboy fetches Johnny and goes to a park. They are confronted by Bob and Randy and three other socs, who chase and attack them. They beat up Johnny and try to drown Ponyboy in a fountain. Ponyboy passes out and when he comes to, he sees Johnny holding a blood-stained switchblade and muttering about killing Bob, whose body is nearby while the rest have fled.

Ponyboy and Johnny go see Dally, who advises them to go to Windrixville to lay low. He gives them money for food and a loaded gun to protect themselves. Johnny and Ponyboy hop onto a cargo train and take refuge in an abandoned church. They cut their hair and Ponyboy bleaches his. To pass time, the boys play poker and read. After a few days, Dally arrives with news that Cherry has offered to support the boys in court and that he told the police that Johnny and Ponyboy were in Texas. He gives Ponyboy a note from Soda, asking Ponyboy to come home. Johnny says they have to turn themselves in, but Dally disagrees. When the boys return to the church, they find the building on fire, with children trapped inside. They rescue the kids but Johnny suffers a broken back and severe burns. Ponyboy reunites with his brothers. Johnny is charged with manslaughter for killing Bob, while Ponyboy may be sent to a boys' home.

Bob's death sparks calls from the socs for a rumble. On the day of the rumble, Randy tells Ponyboy he wants no part of it. Later on, Ponyboy and Two-Bit visit Johnny in the hospital. Cherry visits Ponyboy to talk about court. She tells him she does not want to visit Johnny at the hospital because he killed Bob. Later that night the Greasers win the rumble. Afterwards, Dally drives an injured Ponyboy to the hospital to visit Johnny. They enter Johnny's hospital room to tell him about the Greasers' victory, but he is unimpressed and dies after telling Ponyboy to "stay gold".

Unable to bear Johnny's death, Dally wanders through the hospital. He robs a grocery store but is shot and wounded by the owner. With the police after him, Dally calls Darry and tells him to meet him in the park to hide him, but the police get there first and surround Dally. Unwilling to live any longer, Dally commits suicide by cop, pointing his empty gun at them and they respond by shooting him dead.

Everyone goes to court for Bob's murder and the judge finds Ponyboy not guilty. After court, Cherry sees Ponyboy at school and ignores him. During an argument between Darry and Ponyboy, Soda flees as they follow him. They stop as Soda says they can't live like that anymore and have to start to get along which they agree on. Later, Ponyboy finds a letter from Johnny saying that saving the children was worth sacrificing his own life.


Additionally, Nicolas Cage, Flea, and Melanie Griffith have uncredited cameos as background Socs.[citation needed]



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.[4][5]

"We are all so impressed with the book, The Outsiders by SE Hinton, that a petition has been circulated asking that it be made into a movie. We have chosen you to send it to."[6]

Attached to the letter were approximately 15 pages of children's signatures written in different-colors. Moved by the letter Coppola read the book and was impressed by the relationships between the Greaser kids. It bought back memories of the time when in his youth he had been a drama counsellor working with children at a summer camp.[6]


The casting process led to debut or star-making performances of actors who would be collectively referred to throughout the 80s as the Brat Pack: C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise.[7] Mickey Rourke, Scott Baio, and Dennis Quaid also auditioned for roles but were not cast.[8] Producer Fred Roos, a frequent collaborator with Coppola, was partially responsible for the film's casting. In particular, he scouted Patrick Swayze based on his performance in the roller skating movie Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979).[9]

Ralph Macchio stated that during auditions, Coppola "wanted everybody to read for a different role."[10] He said that Coppola had all of the actors "in one room watching each other audition...It’s brutal because you’re becoming self-conscious of any choices because you’re watching reactions based on other actors and watching the filmmakers and how they respond because you’re all trying to get the job. For Francis, it was about mixing and matching the ensemble, saying 'Dennis Quaid, you read this, and Rob Lowe, you read that.'"[4] As a New Yorker who didn't know any of the other actors auditioning, Macchio also stated that he felt like an outsider during the process.[8]


The house used for filming in the movie, located at 731 Curtis Brothers Lane in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is being prepared to open as a museum featuring props from the film

The film was shot on location in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[11] Filming took place from March 29 to May 15, 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.[12] 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.[13]

The original length of the movie was two hours and 13 minutes. Warner Bros. felt that the movie was a mistake and was too long.[6] As a result, Coppola cut it down to 91 minutes for the theatrical release.

The pranks that went on during the filming have become legendary, mostly initiated by Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, and Patrick Swayze.[4] The targets were often C. Thomas Howell and Diane Lane.[4] Ralph Macchio was not involved because he was so focused on getting his role right.[4] The author of the original novel, S.E. Hinton, was involved during the filming as she and Coppola wrote the screenplay together (and appeared as the nurse at the end of the film).[4] She also later stated that she served as an informal "den mother" to many of the actors, as she was "close to all of them."[4]


1."Stay Gold"Stevie Wonder, Carmine Coppola 
2."Fate Theme"Carmine Coppola 
3."Country Suite"Carmine Coppola 
4."Cherry Says Goodbye"Carmine Coppola 
5."Incidental Music 1"Carmine Coppola 
6."Fight in the Park"Carmine Coppola 
7."Bob is Dead"Carmine Coppola 
8."Deserted Church Suite"Carmine Coppola 
9."Sunrise"Carmine Coppola 
10."Fire at the Church"Carmine Coppola 
11."Incidental Music 2"Carmine Coppola 
12."Rumble Variation / Dallas’ Death"Carmine Coppola 
13."Brothers Together"Carmine Coppola 
14."Rumble"Carmine Coppola 
15."Stay Gold (alternate)"Stevie Wonder 
16."The Outside In"Bill Hughes 
17."Stay Gold"Bill Hughes 



Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 68% based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 6.2/10. 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."[16] 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."[17] Metacritic gave the film a score of 41, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18]

The film's casting directors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, wrote in a 2007 book 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."[19]

Stéphane Delorme, in his book on Coppola, wrote : "The Outsiders is a wonder. And wonder is also the subject of the film. 'Stay Gold', says the song over the title credits. (...) The artificiality of the rural setting, which is as fake as in The Night of the Hunter, places us in the distant, mythical past. It takes only dye to turn these blond heads into golden heads, and thus to go from nostalgia for one's youth in the 1960s to a general regret for a golden age."[20]


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".[21] Francis Ford Coppola was nominated for the Golden Prize at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival.[22]

"The Complete Novel" re-release[edit]

On September 20, 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. This brought it up to a 114 minutes long running time. 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.

Coppola's father, Carmine Coppola had written a soaring, romantic score for the original release, which at the time Coppola felt may have been the wrong choice, but he wasn't prepared to say that to him.[6] By the time he came to recut the movie for "The Complete Novel" re-release his father had died, which allowed Coppola the opportunity to balance Carmine Coppola's music 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".[23]

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 to improve pacing. Those scenes were: 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 A on June 3, 2014.[24]

A manufacture-on-demand Ultra HD Blu-ray containing both versions of The Outsiders including The Complete Novel was released through Warner Archive Collection on November 9, 2021.[25]

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 film's ending and lasted only one season.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "American Zoetrope: Films". Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  2. ^ "Movies - S.E. Hinton". Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  3. ^ Phillips, Patrick (August 25, 2021). "Is The Outsiders Based On A True Story?". Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g King, Susan (March 23, 2018). "'The Outsiders' Stays Gold at 35: Inside Coppola's Crafty Methods and Stars' Crazy Pranks". Variety. Archived from the original on September 28, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Letters of Note". Letters of Note. Archived from the original on March 8, 2013. Retrieved March 6, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d Hoad, Phil (November 1, 2021). "'Tom Cruise was an intense kid': How Francis Ford Coppola made The Outsiders". The Guardian. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  7. ^ Burns, Sean (April 23, 2019). "Revisiting 'The Outsiders' After The Immediacy Of Adolescence's Plights Have Passed". WBUR-FM. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Wojciechowski, Michele (April 24, 2017). "Ralph Macchio on Being Part of The Outsiders and HBO's The Deuce". Parade. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Babitz, Eve (2019). "Sunset Tango". I Used To Be Charming. New York: New York Review of Books. p. 166. ISBN 9781681373799.
  10. ^ Hiatt, Brian (April 23, 2019). "Ralph Macchio on 'Cobra Kai' and the Legend of 'The Karate Kid'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 18, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Outsiders" film, shot in Tulsa, page 1 Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine from
  12. ^ "COMMONWEALTH vs. WILLIAM M. JOYCE (and companion cases)". Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  13. ^ Phillips, Gene D. G. Phillips, Godfather: the intimate Coppola, p. 208. ISBN 0813129060. Archived from the original on June 12, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  14. ^ The Outsiders [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - Carmine Coppola | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved July 5, 2021
  15. ^ Flory, Andrew (May 30, 2017). I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-03686-8.
  16. ^ "The Outsiders (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Archived from the original on December 29, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 25, 1983). "The Outsiders Movie Review & Film Summary (1983)". Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Outsiders Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 4, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2020..
  19. ^ Hirshenson, Janet; Jenkins, Jane (November 5, 2007). A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 86. ISBN 9780151012343. Retrieved November 5, 2016. the outsiders beach blanket bingo.
  20. ^ Stéphane Delorme, Francis Ford Coppola, Cahiers du cinema, 2007, english edition 2010, p.50, ISBN 978-2-8664-2569-2.
  21. ^ "Young Artist Awards - 1984". Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  22. ^ "Francis Ford Coppola Bio". MTV Artists (Beta). Archived from the original on November 19, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  23. ^ "St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search". Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  24. ^ "The Outsiders Blu-ray". Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  25. ^ Warner Archive Collection (November 1, 2021). "From the Warner Archive Collection, classics are coming to Blu-ray this month! 🎞". Twitter. Retrieved November 2, 2021.

External links[edit]