The Outsiders

Showing at select theaters on September 9th in advance of its release on DVD, Francis Coppola's revision of his 1983 film of S.E. Hinton's best seller The Outsiders is funny, touching and revelatory, with twenty-two minutes of added footage and a new soundtrack featuring Elvis Presley. Coppola subtitles the film The Complete Novel, in deference to readers who felt he cheated the book by cutting off the beginning and end. The godfather of directors restores those scenes, featuring many young actors (Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane) who went on to dom. The film is now a complete picture of these 1960s Oklahoma teens who divide themselves into greasers and preppy Socs (pronounced so-shes). The focus is on Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell), 14, an orphan who lives with his older brothers (Lowe and Swayze) and gets involved in a murder committed by Johnny (Ralph Macchio), his best friend. With the help of greaser leader Dallas (a powerful Dillon), the boys hide out in an abandoned building until an act of unexpected heroism brings them to justice. Coppola has given the film a fullness that makes it feel freshly minted. Ponyboy, quoting Robert Frost's poem about how nothing gold (meaning youth) ever lasts, is set against an impossibly golden sunset that always threw me, as did much of the florid dialogue. This new version makes it clear that the film is being seen through Ponyboy, a wanna-be writer with an intense love for reading Gone With the Wind. Coppola has directed the film as Ponyboy would have done it. That clarity results in a movie that will stay gold.

From The Archives Issue 106: April 13, 1972