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The Outsiders
Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Dir)
Release Date:   25 Mar 1983
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 Mar 1983
Production Date:   29 Mar -- 15 May 1982 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Duration (in mins):   91
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Cast: The Greasers: Matt Dillon (Dallas ["Dally"] Winston)  
    C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy Curtis)  
    Ralph Macchio (Johnny Cade)  
    Patrick Swayze (Darrel ["Darry"] Curtis)  
    Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis)  
    Emilio Estevez (Two-Bit Matthews)  
    Tom Cruise (Steve Randle)  
  [and] Glenn Withrow (Tim Shepard)  
  The Socs: Diane Lane (Cherry Valance)  
    Leif Garrett (Bob Sheldon)  
    Darren Dalton (Randy Anderson)  
    Gailard Sartain (Jerry)  
    Michelle Meyrink (Marcia)  
    Tom Waits (Buck Merrill)  
  [and] William Smith (Store clerk)  
    Tom Hillman (Greaser in concession stand)  
    Hugh Walkinshaw (Soc in concession stand)  
    Domino (Little girl)  
    Teresa Wilkerson Hunt (Woman at fire)  
    Linda Nystedt (Nurse)  
    S. E. Hinton (Nurse)  
    Brent Beesley (Suburb guy)  
    John C. Meier (Paul)  
    Ed Jackson (Motorcycle cop)  
    Dan Suhart (Orderly)  

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Zoetrope Studios  
Production Text: Francis Ford Coppola Presents
Distribution Company: Warner Bros., Inc. (A Warner Communications Company)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola (Dir)
  Ronald Colby (Unit prod mgr)
  David Valdes (1st asst dir)
  Jamie Freitag (2d asst dir)
Producer: Fred Roos (Prod)
  Gray Frederickson (Prod)
  Gian-Carlo Coppola (Assoc prod)
Writer: Kathleen Knutsen Rowell (Scr)
Photography: Stephen H. Burum (Dir of photog)
  Dave Stewart (Dir of photog, Visual eff unit)
  Elliott Davis (Cam op)
  Don Baker (Cam op, Visual eff unit)
  Ralph Gerling (2d unit cam op)
  Dustin Blauvelt (1st asst cam)
  Edward Nielsen (2d unit 1st asst cam)
  Steve Hiller (2d asst cam)
  Emmett Brown (Key grip)
  Lou Tobin (Gaffer)
  Moviola (Zoetrope film/video transition by)
  Panavision® (Filmed in)
  Jim Zenk (Stillsman)
Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis (Prod des)
Film Editor: Anne Goursaud (Ed)
  Christopher Lebenzon (1st asst ed)
  Carrie Ellison (Asst ed)
  Craig Conwell (Apprentice ed)
  Cathy Carr (Negative cutter)
Set Decoration: Gary Fettis (Set dec)
  Roger Dietz (Set artist)
  John Rutchland (Const coord)
Costumes: Marge Bowers (Cost)
  Ernie Misko (Ward supv)
  Kathleen Gore (Ward supv)
Music: Carmine Coppola (Mus)
  Robert Badami (Mus ed)
  Robert Randles (Mus ed)
  Gary Olazabal (Rec eng, "Stay Gold")
  Bob Harlan (Asst rec eng, "Stay Gold")
Sound: Richard Beggs (Sd des)
  Walla Works, Inc. (Sd editorial)
  Gordon Ecker, Jr. (Supv sd ed)
  Richard Hymns (Sd ed)
  Vince Melandri (ADR ed)
  Norman Schwartz (ADR ed)
  Jim Webb (Prod mixer)
  Chris McLaughlin (Boom man)
  Jim Steube (Boom man)
  Richard Beggs (Re-rec mixer)
  James Austin (Re-rec mixer)
  Michael Minkler (Re-rec mixer)
  Karen Brocco (Mix coord)
  Wayne Wagner (Re-rec chief eng)
Special Effects: Robert Swarthe (Spec visual eff)
  Dennis Dion (Spec eff)
  Millie Z. Alexich (Project mgr, Visual eff unit)
  Martin Bresin (Pyrotechnic eff, Visual eff unit)
  Robert Spurlock (Mechanical eff, Visual eff unit)
  Wayne Fitzgerald (Title des)
  David Oliver (Title des)
  Modern Film Effects (Opticals by)
  The Optical House (Opticals by)
  Pacific Title (Opticals by)
Make Up: Dee Dee Petty (Hair stylist)
  Jack Petty (Make-up)
Production Misc: S. E. Hinton (Spec consultant to Francis Coppola)
  Lloyd Nelson (Scr supv)
  Janet Hirshenson (Casting)
  Nancy Foy (Casting asst)
  Jane Iredale (New York casting)
  Teresa Hunt (Extras casting)
  Teri Fettis (Prod coord)
  Beverly Walker (Public relations)
  Michelle Manning (Prod supv)
  Don Elmblad (Asst to Mr. Fettis)
  Murdo Laird (Electronic cinema chief systems eng)
  Brian Lee (Electronic cinema)
  Michael Lehmann (Electronic cinema)
  David Smith (Electronic cinema)
  C. Mitchell Amundsen (Electronic cinema)
  Anahid Nazarian in cooperation with The Sony Corporation (Electronic scr supv)
  Jean Autrey (Loc auditor)
  Barbara Lucey (Payroll auditor)
  Kurt Woolner (Completion bond representative)
  Jim Clark (Loc mgr)
  Tony Dingman (Loc coord)
  J. William Hunt (Transportation)
  Ernie Foster (Transportation)
  Loolee DeLeon (Exec secy)
  Bonnie Macker (Exec secy)
  Dan Suhart (Dial coach)
  Jeffrey Block (Prod aide)
  Roman Coppola (Prod aide)
  David Marconi (Prod aide)
  Connie McCord (Prod aide)
  Bonna Newman (Prod aide)
  Jane Vickerella (Prod aide)
  Laurel Walter (Prod aide)
Stand In: Buddy Joe Hooker (Stunt coord)
  Steve M. Davison (Stunts)
  Reid Rondell (Stunts)
  Scott Wilder (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Dick Ritchie (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "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.
Composer: R.C. Bannon
  David Allan Coe
  Carmine Coppola
  Van Morrison
  Harlan Sanders
  Stevie Wonder
Source Text: Based on the novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (New York, 1967).
Authors: S. E. Hinton

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Pony Boy, Inc. 23/5/1983 dd/mm/yyyy PA175734

PCA NO: 26736
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
  Lenses/Prints: Prints by Technicolor®

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Teenage
Subjects (Major): Adolescents
  Class distinction
  Cultural elitism
  Justifiable homicide
Subjects (Minor): Churches
  Death and dying
  Family relationships
  Gone With the Wind (Novel)
  Juvenile delinquents
  Tulsa (OK)

Note: 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 The Outsiders 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, The Outsiders, upon which the film is based.
       A 20 Jan 1982 Var news item reported that director Francis Ford Coppola was scheduled to begin principal photography on The Outsiders in Mar 1982, although the project did not yet have distributor, and a 12 Feb 1982 Var brief added that Columbia Pictures was discussing an $8 million production deal with Coppola. However, on the planned start date of 1 Mar 1982, Var stated that production had been delayed, even though negotiations were still underway with Columbia. Ten days later, the 10 Mar 1982 DV 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), Finian’s Rainbow (1968, see entry), and The Rain People (1969, see entry). Warner Bros. also had deals to distribute the upcoming The Escape Artist (1982) and Hammett (1983, see entry), both executive produced by Coppola through Zoetrope.
       Warner Bros. did not agree to finance production for The Outsiders, and Coppola told DV 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 American Libraries listed the final budget at $10 million. DV 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, The Outsiders, was selected as worthy of film adaptation. American Librarian stated that seventy-five children signed the petition. According to the 25 Mar 1983 LAT review, Hinton started writing The Outsiders 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 The Outsiders, 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 Godfather for children.” According to the 10 Mar 1982 DV, 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 and Hammett.
       A 19 Apr 1982 HR 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 DV and HR 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 NYT 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.
       Production on The Outsiders 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, Tex, (1982, see entry), Coppola was vying for screen rights to her 1975 work, Rumble Fish (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 DV, 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 Tex approached her around the same time, in the summer of 1980, but were unaware of each other’s projects. The 23 Mar 1983 NYT article stated that Hinton requested $5,000 for screen rights to The Outsiders, 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 Var 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 HR brief stated that filming ended 15 May 1982 with a projected release date of 8 Oct 1982; however, the 10 May 1982 Var listed the date as 18 Oct 1982. By that time, Coppola had secured screen rights to Rumble Fish 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 The Outsiders’ cast and crew remained in town, according to a 19 May 1982 LAHExam news item. Actor Emilio Estevez told Var that The Outsiders’ 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 The Outsiders 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 HR 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, HR stated that The Outsiders was derivative of West Side Story (1961, see entry) and The Sun Comes Up (1949, see entry).
       On 9 Nov 1983, LAHExam 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. The Outsiders television series ran 25 Mar--6 Aug 1990 on the FOX television network.
       A 24 Oct 2005 Var article reported the DVD release of The Outsiders, retitled 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 NYT review published that day.

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Libraries   May 1983.   
Daily Variety   10 Mar 1982   p. 1.
Daily Variety   25 Jun 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   19 Apr 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 1983   pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter   25 May 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jun 1982   p. 1, 5.
LAHExam   19 May 1982.   
LAHExam   9 Nov 1983.   
Los Angeles Times   25 Mar 1983   p. 1.
New York Times   23 Mar 1983.   
New York Times   25 Mar 1983   p. 3.
New York Times   9 Sep 2005   Section E, p. 3.
Variety   20 Jan 1982.   
Variety   12 Feb 1982.   
Variety   1 Mar 1982.   
Variety   10 May 1982.   
Variety   23 Mar 1983   p. 18.
Variety   24 Oct 2005.   

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