The Outsiders 1983 Film Review: Done by Rancel
The Outsiders is a 1983 coming of age drama directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This teen-oriented angst filled film would be a platform for many up and coming stars from the 1980’s. At the time of the movie’s release it featured a cast of primarily unknowns; C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. In supporting roles are 1970’s Teen Idol Leif Garrett and musician Tom Waits. The movie was originally a novel by S.E. Hinton. Matt Dillon and Diane Lane would later pair up again in “Rumble Fish”, also directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
The movie takes place in the early 1960’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is centered around two groups of teenagers/young adults, the Greasers (Poor White Trash Tough Boys) and the Socs (Preps-Rich Kids). The Greasers include, Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and his two older brothers, Sodapop (Rob Lowe) and Darrel (Patrick Swayze), as well as Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio), Dallas Winston (Matt Dillon), Two-Bit Matthews (Emilio Estevez), and Steve Randle (Tom Cruise). Their rivalry with the Socs is escalated when Ponyboy, Johnny, Two-Bit, and Dallas Winston are talking to Bob Sheldon (Leif Garrett) and Randy Anderson (Darren Dalton), girlfriends at the Drive-In movie theatre.
The two Socs confront the three greasers and before a total fight breaks out the two girlfriends of the Socs, Cherry Valance (Diane Lane) and Marcia (Michelle Meyrink) agree to leave with their boyfriends Bob and Randy. Later on that night, Bob, Randy, and a couple of other Socs attack Ponyboy and Johnny in the park. To save Ponyboy’s life, who was having his head dunked in the water by Bob, Johnny pulls out a switchblade knife and kills Bob. The other Socs run off. Dallas Winston warns Ponyboy and Johnny that they should leave town. Ponyboy and Johnny heed Dallas Winston’s advice and they retreat to an abandoned church in a made up town known as Windrixville. Dallas later arrives and tells the two boys that Cherry is willing to back up their story in court.
The three greasers leave to go get some food. On their return back, they notice the church has caught fire with school children inside. Johnny is severely burned and suffers a broken back when they were rescuing the kids. Despite the honorable act by Johnny, who is in the hospital near death, he is charged for manslaughter for killing Bob Sheldon. Ponyboy is informed he may be sent to a youth ranch home. The Socs vow revenge over Bob Sheldon’s murder. They engage in a “Rumble” (Big Gang Fight), with all the Greasers in the town. The Greasers, who were motivated by Johnny’s critical condition eventually win the Rumble. Dallas Winston and Ponyboy visit Johnny in the hospital after the victory. Johnny with his dying breath quotes a Robert Frost poem, and tells Ponyboy to “Stay Gold”.
Dallas Winston is unable to cope with Johnny’s death. He loses it and robs a local store at gunpoint. Dallas is chased down and shot to the death by the police. Ponyboy is cleared of all charges and is allowed to stay with his older brothers, Darrel and Sodapop Curtis. The movie ends with Ponyboy Curtis reading a letter that Johnny left him before he died and writing a school report about what transpired.
The Outsiders film launched several of the young cast members into super stardom and they would remain in the spotlight in years to come. It also would be the last notable thing that 1970’s Teen Idol, Leif Garrett would do before his career spiraled down into a life of drug abuse and bad b-movies. It is a work of art from the 1980’s. The script is perfectly written and all the actors involved do an amazing job. You could say it was a tribute to the beauty of youth, innocence, a difference in social status clashing together, and also the loss of innocence. The film inspired the creation of the “Brat Pack”. Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe would later be cast in Brat Pack films. The “Nothing Can Stay Gold” sunrise scene with Johnny & Ponyboy is really beautiful. It is an example of the excellent cinematography.
Ralph Macchio, who is notorious for looking a lot younger than his real age, does a great job as the non confident, timid, and fidgeting scared boy. C. Thomas Howell, who was also very baby-faced, did a solid interpretation for his role. I would consider the Ponyboy Curtis character as C. Thomas Howell’s best role acting-wise. Other than Red Dawn (1984) and The Hitcher (1986), C. Thomas Howell never had much success afterwards. From what I read, Howell’s star power fizzled out because his unusually youthful appearance throughout his adult years. It was hard for him to be taken seriously in an adult role. C. Thomas Howell won a best Young Motion Picture Actor award for The Outsiders movie.
Emilio Estevez as Two-Bit Matthews was entertaining. He did a great job with his buffoonish character. I always liked Emilio Estevez as an actor and his trademark laugh he uses in every film he’s cast in. The eighteen year old Diane Lane was radiant, and still is at her current age. She has always been a very beautiful woman. Diane Lane did another film with Matt Dillon, as I noted in the beginning of this review. She used to date Matt Dillon around this time.
Matt Dillon was my favorite actor in it. I always liked Dallas Winston the best out of all the greasers. Matt Dillon was awesome early on in his career with his caveman brute type roles. Dallas Winston also has the best lines, “Are you a real redhead”, and “Let’s do it for Johnny”. I love how Matt Dillon sounds and the way he walks in the film. The Dallas Winston character struts around like a total badass. Leif Garrett is somewhat unconvincing as a bully, because of his unintimidating presence and whiny lame voice. I just couldn’t take him seriously as someone to be afraid of.
The other actors in the film were solid with their roles. As a youngster I used to get really emotional with Johnny’s death scene and the police killing Dallas Winston. I always used to cry when I watched those two scenes. They are very depressing. The gloomy music that plays in the background when Dallas is being chased down and eventually shot makes it even worse. The young man is distraught over his friend’s death, he was only bluffing when he pulls out the gun, and then is shot by the police.
The opening scene is very cool and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Dallas, Johnny, and Ponyboy are seen strutting down the streets like they own it, while the song,“Gloria”by Van Morrison is heard. The beautiful song “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder will bring the emotions out of you. Musician, Tom Waits makes a cameo in the Outsiders 1983 movie. He is seen in the bar that Dallas Winston hangs out at. An unsuccessful TV series, which continues The Outsiders story was made in 1990.
I may have watched a few episodes of it, but I don’t recall anything from it on whether it was good or not. David Arquette and Billy Bob Thornton were in it as Two-Bit Matthews and Buck Merrill. The film has stood the test of time and is still fun to watch. As for me, I need an upgrade of my DVD. I hope to get a Blu-Ray version soon. Check out Rumble Fish, which is another good film. Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, and Mickey Rourke are in it, along with Matt Dillon and Diane Lane. The Outsiders quite possibly has the greatest cast for a film ever.
The Outsiders (1983) opening scene with (Van Morrison’s song Gloria)
Filed Under: Drama
About the Author: Hello and welcome to Rancel's Movie, TV Show, Animated Films, and Japanese Anime Review Website. I love writing, watching films (especially foreign cinema and horror), playing video games, listening to music, repairing computers, and spending time with people I love. I have always been into the world of cinema, animated films, and TV series. So now as an adult I am an amateur film reviewer.