Starring: Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Maccio, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Tom Waits
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Synopsis: When two poor Greasers, Johnny, and Ponyboy are assaulted by a vicious gang, the Socs, and Johnny kills one of the attackers, tension begins to mount between the two rival gangs, setting off a turbulent chain of events.
This is a movie that gets lost amid the rest of Coppola’s cannon, which I can sort of understand seeing as he directed such nuggets as The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. But! The Outsiders deserves more recognition! It’s great, and it has an astoundingly good cast. A veritable feast of eighties legends, mostly at the beginning of their careers.
The film is based upon one of my favourite books, by S.E Hinton, and was filmed as a double with another of Hinton’s books, Rumble Fish, which is also a fantastic but some what forgotten film from Coppola. Both films deal with teen gangs in the fifties, and are both essentially rites of passage type films.
The film is shot as though it was made back in the days it is supposed to be portraying. Despite it’s violent underbelly, the film is free of any modern day cynical edges, and is really rather sweet in places. You have characters to root for, and ones to despise, you have a schmaltzy score by Coppola’s composer father, and a cheesy theme song by Stevie Wonder! Sounds like it could be awful, but in this day and age of violence and gore, it’s really rather nice.
Fans of the book will have great fun picking out which future Hollywood star plays each character, as well as reciting lines such as “stay gold Ponyboy”. Or maybe that was just me?
The Outsiders is a worth while film for a number of reasons, not least to see how Tom Cruise looked before he was rich enough to pay for a new nose and teeth. But, in all seriousness, I don’t want to detract from the film because it really is a favourite of mine, no matter how saccharine and cheesy it gets.