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Francis Ford Coppola
25 Mar 1983
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 Mar 1983
29 Mar -- 15 May 1982 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Duration (in mins):
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(Dallas ["Dally"] Winston)
C. Thomas Howell
(Darrel ["Darry"] Curtis)
(Greaser in concession stand)
(Soc in concession stand)
Teresa Wilkerson Hunt
(Woman at fire)
S. E. Hinton
John C. Meier
In 1960s Tulsa, Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old “Ponyboy” Curtis leaves a movie theater, only to be harassed by a gang of wealthy boys nicknamed “Socs.” As they pin Ponyboy to the ground and hold a knife to his throat, they refer to him as a “Greaser” because of his slicked back hair and his low social class. Ponyboy’s older brothers, “Darry” and "Sodapop," come to his rescue. The Curtis boys have been orphans since their parents died in a railway accident. When they join their Greaser friends, the leader, ex-convict Dallas “Dally” Winston, vows revenge for the attack on Ponyboy. The following evening at a drive-in theater, Dally tries to seduce a Soc girl named Cherry Valance, but Dally’s young sidekick, Johnny Cade, stands up for the young lady. In return, Cherry and her friend, Marcia, invite Johnny and Ponyboy to join them. When Cherry and Ponyboy go to the concession stand, Ponyboy reveals that Dally isn’t the delinquent he pretends to be, and Cherry argues that life is hard for everyone, rich or poor. After the movie, Ponyboy tells Cherry that he is hated by his eldest brother, Darry. Just then, Cherry’s intoxicated boyfriend, Bob Sheldon, pulls up in his car and threatens the Greasers. As “Two-Bit” Matthews wields a switchblade knife, Cherry agrees to leave with Bob to prevent a fight, but confides to Ponyboy that she might fall in love with Dally one day. The Greasers return to Johnny’s house to find his parents embroiled in a violent argument, so Ponyboy takes Johnny to a nearby vacant lot, where Johnny cries that he wants to commit suicide. When Ponyboy returns home late, Darry is outraged and hits his brother. Frightened, Ponyboy runs away with Johnny. They stop at a park, where they are attacked by Bob Sheldon and his intoxicated friends. As the Socs shove Ponyboy’s head into a park fountain and nearly drown him, Johnny fights back with a switchblade and kills Bob. In their terror, the boys run to a squalid saloon to find Dally. He gives them a loaded gun, $50, and tells them to catch the 3:15 freight train to Windrixville, where there’s an abandoned church on Jay Mountain. Dally orders the boys to buy a week’s supply of food and hide out until he comes for them. The following morning, Ponyboy and Johnny find the church and rest. Ponyboy later awakens to find Johnny with a crate of food and a paperback copy of
Gone with the Wind.
He asks Ponyboy to read the novel aloud, insists they cut their hair with his lethal switchblade, and bleaches Ponyboy’s locks with hydrogen peroxide. In the coming days, Ponyboy reads
Gone with the Wind
and the friends play cards, wagering cigarettes. Ponyboy warns Johnny that their smoking could start a fire. One morning, at sunrise, Ponyboy recites Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” but admits he never knew what it meant. Sometime later, Dally pays the boys a surprise visit and delivers a letter from Ponyboy’s brother, Sodapop, who begs them to return home. Dally drives the boys to a Dairy Queen diner and announces there will soon be a “rumble” fight between Greasers and Socs to settle the score for Bob’s death. He also reports that Cherry Valance promised to testify in court that Johnny acted in self-defense, even though Bob was her boyfriend. Hearing the news, Johnny decides to turn himself in to the police, and is dismayed to learn his parents have not been looking for him. As Dally drives back to the church, the boys see it is on fire, and filled with children who have visited the site on a field trip. Ponyboy charges inside and Johnny follows. They lift the children out of the fire into Dally’s arms, but Johnny is knocked down by a burning beam. Dally jumps into the church to save Johnny as the roof collapses. At the hospital, Ponyboy is reunited with his brothers and Darry embraces his little brother with newfound affection. When they return home, Greasers Two-Bit and Steve Randle show off a newspaper headline, which hails Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally as heroes. However, Johnny will be charged with manslaughter. When Darry, Sodapop, and Steve leave for their gas station jobs, Ponyboy and Two-Bit hitchhike to the hospital, but on the way they are confronted by a car packed with Socs. Two-Bit reminds the new Soc leader, Randy Anderson, that it is against the rules to cavort before that evening’s “rumble.” Still, Randy wishes to speak with Ponyboy privately. He commends Ponyboy for his heroism and admits he would not have had the courage to rescue the children. Randy laments that the Greasers will never be able to advance past their underprivileged social status, even if they win the rumble. As Two-Bit and Ponyboy continue to the hospital, they find Johnny in traction, covered in burns. When Johnny asks Two-Bit to buy him a copy of
Gone with the Wind,
Ponyboy stays behind and learns that Johnny does not want to die, even though he used to contemplate suicide. Later, in Dally’s hospital room, Two-Bit reports that Johnny is in bad shape. Enraged, Dally asks for a switchblade and thrusts the knife into his mattress, declaring the Greasers must win the rumble to honor Johnny. As Two-Bit and Ponyboy head home, they are met by Cherry Valance, who says the Socs have agreed to fight without weapons. Cherry mourns the death of her boyfriend, Bob, but admits she feels a connection to Ponyboy. He reminds her that the sunset appears the same to everyone, even if they live in different neighborhoods. That night, Socs and Greasers face off in a park. Dally escapes from the hospital, runs toward the boys, and initiates the rumble. After fighting in the pouring rain, the Socs retreat and Dally drives Ponyboy to the hospital so they can share the good news with Johnny. However, Johnny declares there is no point to fighting. Taking his last breath, Johnny refers to the Robert Frost poem and tells Ponyboy to “stay gold.” Distraught and furious over his friend’s death, Dally stumbles through town with an unloaded gun, looking for trouble, while Ponyboy returns home to report Johnny’s death. After Dally wields his gun to rob a store, the cashier fires his own weapon, and Dally is wounded. He telephones Ponyboy’s home, asking Darry to meet him in the park. As the Greasers race toward the park, they see Dally being shot dead by police officers. Sometime later, Ponyboy reads a letter that Johnny wrote before he died, explaining that “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is about preserving youth. He asks Ponyboy to relay this revelation to Dally, who has always been resolute in defying his innocence.
Francis Ford Coppola Presents
Warner Bros., Inc.
(A Warner Communications Company)
Francis Ford Coppola
(Unit prod mgr)
(1st asst dir)
(2d asst dir)
Kathleen Knutsen Rowell
Stephen H. Burum
(Dir of photog)
(Dir of photog, Visual eff unit)
(Cam op, Visual eff unit)
(2d unit cam op)
(1st asst cam)
(2d unit 1st asst cam)
(2d asst cam)
(Zoetrope film/video transition by)
(1st asst ed)
(Rec eng, "Stay Gold")
(Asst rec eng, "Stay Gold")
Walla Works, Inc.
Gordon Ecker, Jr.
(Supv sd ed)
(Re-rec chief eng)
(Spec visual eff)
Millie Z. Alexich
(Project mgr, Visual eff unit)
(Pyrotechnic eff, Visual eff unit)
(Mechanical eff, Visual eff unit)
Modern Film Effects
The Optical House
Dee Dee Petty
S. E. Hinton
(Spec consultant to Francis Coppola)
(New York casting)
(Asst to Mr. Fettis)
(Electronic cinema chief systems eng)
C. Mitchell Amundsen
Anahid Nazarian in cooperation with The Sony Corporation
(Electronic scr supv)
(Completion bond representative)
J. William Hunt
Buddy Joe Hooker
Steve M. Davison
"Stay Gold," sung by Stevie Wonder, music by Carmine Coppola, lyrics by Stevie Wonder, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation; "Gloria," composed and performed by Van Morrison, courtesy of Decca Records; "Loveless Motel," written by R.C. Bannon and Harlan Sanders, performed by R.C. Bannon, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records; "Jack Daniels If You Please," written and performed by David Allan Coe, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records.
David Allan Coe
Based on the novel
by S. E. Hinton (New York, 1967).
S. E. Hinton
Pony Boy, Inc.
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Prints by Technicolor®
Death and dying
Gone With the Wind (Novel)
End credits include: “This film is dedicated to the people who first suggested that it be made… Librarian Jo Ellen Misakian and the students of Lone Star School in Fresno, California.” Other acknowledgements state: “Film clips from ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ courtesy of Filmways Pictures, Inc.”; “’Nothing Gold Can Stay’ used by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers. From
The Poetry of Robert Frost,
edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, ©1969 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Copyright 1951 by Robert Frost,” and, “Footage from ‘Mickey’s Trailer’ ©1938 Walt Disney Productions.” “Special Thanks” are given to “Mary Nell Clark, the Oklahoma Film Commission, and the people of the State of Oklahoma.”
The film begins with voice-over narration by C. Thomas Howell in the character of “Ponyboy Curtis” as he begins writing the story of
in a composition book for an English class: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house I had only two things on my mind, Paul Newman and a ride home.” These words replicate the opening sentence of S. E. Hinton’s 1967 novel,
upon which the film is based.
A 20 Jan 1982
news item reported that director Francis Ford Coppola was scheduled to begin principal photography on
in Mar 1982, although the project did not yet have distributor, and a 12 Feb 1982
brief added that Columbia Pictures was discussing an $8 million production deal with Coppola. However, on the planned start date of 1 Mar 1982,
stated that production had been delayed, even though negotiations were still underway with Columbia. Ten days later, the 10 Mar 1982
announced that Warner Bros., Inc., had acquired distribution rights, and principal photography was rescheduled to begin 29 Mar 1982 in Tulsa, OK, where the production would be shot in its entirety over seven weeks. Warner Bros. executives dispelled an industry rumor that Columbia was negotiating a deal with Coppola as an “adjunct,” to compensate for their approximately $25 million losses on the recently-released
One from the Heart
(1982, see entry). In addition, Warner Bros. had an ongoing relationship with Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios. The studio provided financial backing for the establishment of Zoetrope’s San Francisco, CA, venture in the late 1960s and “handled” Coppola’s first three pictures,
You’re a Big Boy Now
(1966, see entry),
(1968, see entry), and
The Rain People
(1969, see entry). Warner Bros. also had deals to distribute the upcoming
The Escape Artist
(1983, see entry), both executive produced by Coppola through Zoetrope.
Warner Bros. did not agree to finance production for
and Coppola told
that he planned to fund the picture with a “moderate” budget the same way he backed previous projects, through “a bank and various foreign markets.” A May 1983 edition of
listed the final budget at $10 million.
explained that the picture was inspired by a letter, dated 21 Mar 1980, that Coppola received from Lone Star School librarian, Jo Ellen Misakian, along with a paperback version of the novel. The letter was signed by thirty students, who announced that S. E. Hinton’s bestseller,
was selected as worthy of film adaptation.
stated that seventy-five children signed the petition. According to the 25 Mar 1983
review, Hinton started writing
at age fifteen, and finished it when she was seventeen. Since Zoetrope experienced success with another children’s novel adaptation,
The Black Stallion
(1979, see entry), Coppola-collaborator, producer Fred Roos, purchased screen rights to
intending to match it with an up-and-coming director; however, Coppola later read the novel “on an airplane” and decided it was a “tragedy,” worthy of large scale production. Coppola reportedly described the story as “the
Gone with the Wind
for 14-year-old girls” and, “a
for children.” According to the 10 Mar 1982
casting contracts were being signed the week of 1 Mar 1982. Preproduction was already underway in Tulsa, and postproduction work was scheduled to take place in both Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, utilizing techniques developed for
One from the Heart
A 19 Apr 1982
article stated that Coppola had written the screen adaptation himself and would serve as executive producer; however, he is not credited onscreen in either role. Two months later, on 25 Jun 1982, both
announced that Coppola lost an arbitration with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), and was prohibited from being credited as a screenwriter; Kathleen Knutsen Rowell had completed two drafts of the adaptation before Coppola was hired as director, and she received sole onscreen credit. At the hearing, which took place 18 Jun 1982, WGA took issue with Coppola “closing or shutting down” the film’s credits to ensure that he would be the only writer credited onscreen, and that he portrayed himself as the sole writer to the press throughout production. WGA policy held that when two writers disagreed, and one of the plaintiffs was a director or producer, the case would automatically be overseen by WGA arbitration. A 23 Mar 1983
article stated that director August “Augie” Chinquegrana also worked with Rowell on early versions of the script, but Coppola found the drafts “too much [like] soap opera” and wrote another fourteen versions.
marked an influx of filming in Tulsa, as well as an upsurge in adaptations of S. E. Hinton’s four novels; Walt Disney Studios had recently finished an adaptation of her 1979 novel,
(1982, see entry), Coppola was vying for screen rights to her 1975 work,
(1983, see entry), and Martin Sheen Productions had acquired an option for
That Was Then… This Is Now
(1985, see entry), first published in 1971. Hinton explained the phenomenon to
noting that the film industry was currently targeting audiences in the age bracket she addressed, twelve to twenty-year-olds. According to Hinton, Fred Roos and a Disney executive overseeing
approached her around the same time, in the summer of 1980, but were unaware of each other’s projects. The 23 Mar 1983
article stated that Hinton requested $5,000 for screen rights to
but Zoetrope was so low on funds at the time they could only make a $500 down payment.
Seven weeks after principal photography began, the 10 May 1982
announced that filming was nearly complete, and Coppola was regaining his credibility as a director capable of delivering pictures on schedule. A 25 May 1982
brief stated that filming ended 15 May 1982 with a projected release date of 8 Oct 1982; however, the 10 May 1982
listed the date as 18 Oct 1982. By that time, Coppola had secured screen rights to
and planned to begin principal photography in Tulsa on 5 Jul 1982. Since the two productions were scheduled back-to-back, Coppola converted a local school into a “portable studio,” and a number of
cast and crew remained in town, according to a 19 May 1982
news item. Actor Emilio Estevez told
climactic “rumble” scene was filmed the week of 3 May 1982 and was so “realistic” that Estevez endured a cut lip, C. Thomas Howell got a black eye, and Tom Cruise ended up with a broken thumb.
In honor of the Lone Star School students who recommended
to Zoetrope, the film made its world premiere in Fresno, CA, attended by 500 children including some of those who signed the petition. At the event, Jo Ellen Misakian received a standing ovation when she was presented with a 16mm print of the film and a bouquet of a dozen roses.
The film opened 25 Mar 1983 at 800 theaters nationwide to mixed, fairly negative reviews, although critics noted that the picture would be better received by adolescents than adults. Reflecting Coppola’s first impressions of the novel, the 23 Mar 1983
review observed the director’s homage to David O. Selznick’s
Gone With the Wind
(1940, see entry), including “strikingly similar vista shots” and the “panoramic, sweeping” titles. In addition,
was derivative of
West Side Story
(1961, see entry) and
The Sun Comes Up
(1949, see entry).
On 9 Nov 1983,
announced that Coppola partnered with writer-producers Joe Byrne and Jeb Rosebrook to create a television series, marking Coppola’s first foray into television production. The narrative was planned as an extension of where the film and novel left off.
television series ran 25 Mar--6 Aug 1990 on the FOX television network.
A 24 Oct 2005
article reported the DVD release of
The Outsiders: The Complete Novel,
which included over twenty minutes of footage cut for the theatrical release. In addition, Coppola removed the original score, composed by his father, Carmine Coppola, and replaced it with period rock ‘n’ roll music. The DVD version briefly opened theatrically in New York City on 9 Sep 2005, according to a
review published that day.
10 Mar 1982
25 Jun 1982.
19 Apr 1982.
23 Mar 1983
25 May 1982.
25 Jun 1982
p. 1, 5.
19 May 1982.
9 Nov 1983.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1983
New York Times
23 Mar 1983.
New York Times
25 Mar 1983
New York Times
9 Sep 2005
Section E, p. 3.
20 Jan 1982.
12 Feb 1982.
1 Mar 1982.
10 May 1982.
23 Mar 1983
24 Oct 2005.
Display Movie Summary
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