190. The Outsiders

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Movie: The Outsiders

Release Date: March 25, 1983

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Leif Garrett.

Tag Lines: “They grew up on the outside of society. They weren’t looking for a fight. They were looking to belong.”

“S.E. Hinton’s classic novel about youth.”

Relevance: In 1983, my sister and a friend went to see ‘The Outsiders’ in theaters. I stayed home and played Scrabble with my mother, although I am sure I was not invited. At the time, I was probably okay with staying home as I was not yet familiar with either the movie or the novel from which it is based. That changed very quickly.

When my sister came home after the movie, she found my mom and me on the floor with the Scrabble board between us and the dictionary off to the side. Playing Scrabble with my mom was very hardcore. They were long, epic games. I actually despised the game and hated playing it with her as she always won. But I played, more for the company than to show off my Scrabble skills. My dad was watching television, and by watching television I mean sleeping with the television on. Scrabble wasn’t his thing.

My sister came in all excited from the movie. She plopped herself on the floor next to my mom and me and rambled about what she had just seen. She piqued my interest, especially when she mentioned that it was based on a book. My dad grumbled from the couch “It’s about hoodlums and gangs.” That solidified it. If my dad talked negatively about it, albeit without seeing the film or reading the novel, I was most certainly going to search out the book. And that’s exactly what I did.

The next school day I made a point to make it to the library to find “The Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton. I went to a small Catholic school and the library was the size of a classroom and did not hold many books. Fingers crossed though, I went on my search. With the help of the librarian (actually I just think it was a parent volunteer) I found the book. I remember her asking me if it was an appropriate book for my grade level and I said of course it was, why would I get it otherwise. To be honest, I was in the sixth grade and wasn’t exactly sure, but I really wanted to read the book. Thankfully, she allowed me to check it out and I couldn’t have been more excited.

I read the book at record speed and fell completely in love with the story and characters. As soon as I was finished, I searched out “That Was Then…This Is Now” by S. E. Hinton which is a sort of (not really) sequel to “The Outsiders.” My favorite character, Ponyboy Curtis, was in the second novel so I had to read it. I loved that book as well. I went on to read a few other of her books and although I liked them, none of them really compared to “The Outsiders.” I was now ready for the movie.

I finally saw ‘The Outsiders’ when it became available as a rental. Just like the book, I absolutely loved it. It was a pretty decent adaptation and I loved the actors that filled all of the glorious characters I fell in love with in the novel. It was everything I hoped it would be and everything my sister said it was. As an added bonus, Stevie Wonder sang the theme song, “Stay Gold.” Mr. Wonder was already a favorite artist of mine at the time so to hear him sing this beautiful ballad in the film was icing on the already frosted cake. (Robert Frost pun intended.)

‘The Outsiders’ was watched and re-watched many times as soon as it started playing on HBO. I watched it a lot. The movie became one of those films that I tried to catch every time it was on. I knew the script by heart and it was quoted all the time. (It still is.) I even re-read the novel as well as its quote-unquote sequel as that was on one of my summer required reading lists for high school. The movie, now considered a classic, is one that I will always hold fondly in my heart.

Today’s Thoughts: “Let’s do it for Johnny man. We’ll do it for Johnny!”

Before I watched ‘The Outsiders’ today, I listened to Stevie Wonder’s “Stay Gold.” It is on my phone as it is one of my favorite songs by him or any artist. It is absolutely gorgeous and it really set the tone as I sat down to watch this Francis Ford Coppola coming-of-age drama.

I love this movie. It is beautifully directed and the visuals are both striking and stunning. Its look was always nostalgic and the older it gets the more that overall look works. And that cast. When it was released, everyone in the film was either famous or on the cusp of becoming famous. Watching it today it is for sure an all star ensemble. C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise and Leif Garrett all play their characters with grit, honesty and a certain urgency that makes them completely believable. Ponyboy Curtis is by far my favorite character and Mr. Howell does a fine job portraying him, however Mr. Macchio is a wonder as Johnny Cade.

I will never tire of this movie nor would I want to. It is endearing and moving thanks to its source material as well as the strong performances. Not only do I recommend the movie, but the novel and Mr. Wonder’s song, “Stay Gold,” as well. It’s the perfect trifecta. None of them will disappoint you.

“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, HBO Max, DVD Availability.

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