November 22nd, 2021
MOVIE: THE OUTSIDERS: THE COMPLETE NOVEL
STARRING: C. THOMAS HOWELL, MATT DILLON, DIANE LANE, RALPH MACCHIO, PATRICK SWAYZE, EMILIO ESTEVEZ
DIRECTED BY: FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
There’s a fifty-fifty split on what a director can do to his movie when they tinker with a finished product. For Ridley Scott, that tinkering worked with his final cut of Blade Runner. For George Lucas, it was entirely unnecessary with his first Star Wars trilogy. For Zack Snyder’s Justice League there was much more added to a movie that was originally rushed to be finished, making a more complete production in the end. In the case of Francis Ford Coppola’s new cut of The Outsiders with the added title The Complete Novel, it’s a textbook example of tinkering being done for all the wrong reasons. It’s not all negative, however, as the release of the original cut in 4K Blu-ray is included on this double-disc, which is enough reason to buy it, but The Complete Novel has more wrong moves than right. S.E. Hinton’s novel is still a classic tale about lost innocence when growing up, the struggle for teenagers in different class systems, the rich boys vs. the poor boys, and it’s rightfully celebrated with this new release of Francis Ford Coppola’s production of The Outsiders.
For The Outsiders it’s about two gangs- the greasers vs. the Socs- Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) is the main character, the youngest brother to Darrel (Patrick Swayze), and Sodapop (Rob Lowe), three orphaned boys looking out for one another. The rest of the gang is Dallas (Matt Dillon), Johnny (Ralph Macchio), Two-Bit (Emilio Estevez), and Steve (Tom Cruise)- they all have similar looks, slick back hair, leather jackets, and jeans, with an appreciation for the bad boy image of Elvis or Paul Newman. The differences between the groups are major, instantly present in scene one, where a group of Socs harass Ponyboy before he’s saved by his crew. It continues when Dallas, Ponyboy, and Johnny go to the drive-in, and after typical Soc girl Cherry Valance (a scene stealing Diane Lane) sparks a conversation with the greasers, things rear their ugly head when the Socs try to kill Ponyboy, and in self defence, Johnny kills one of the gang leaders.
This is a classic tale, a portrayal of high school kids in their natural elements of confusion and angst. It’s the Montagues and Capulets in the modern age style of American Graffiti. It turns into Ponyboy and Johnny on the run, dying their hair blonde, and hiding out in an abandoned house in the outskirts of town. It’s here where the narrative becomes not just about masculinity but about the true nature of a person. The screenplay adapted by Kathleen Rowell, with Hinton’s input, does an impeccable job of capturing the imagery in the novel, along with Coppola’s romantic sense of capturing young men wishing for golden slumbers. There’s a reason why The Outsiders holds up as a text for young adults, it’s because it is timeless, worthy of multiple interpretations, and always teaching viewers the right message of not judging books by the cover.
So what makes The Complete Novel different from the original? For starters, Coppola decided to change the entire score, mixing in a surfer style guitar to momentous scenes, and removing most of Carmine Coppola’s uplifting orchestral score. There are added sequences, including an extra moment where Ponyboy’s full custody is awarded to his brothers, which is not bad, but ultimately unnecessary. It’s these factors that nearly ruin the great thing that Francis Coppola already had. I highly recommend buying The Complete Novel simply to see the difference, have a beautiful 4K copy of the original cut, and visit the additional behind the scenes footage included.
There’s plenty of other reasons to still praise The Outsiders, especially on the subplot of how this extraordinary cast was put together on the prescipes of excellent Hollywood careers. For some, the movies only got bigger, for the likes of Tom Cruise or Patrick Swayze, or the longevity in careers such as Lane or Matt Dillon’s, or the entirely different paths for C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio. Either way, they all had an amazing impact on The Outsiders. They were the cast that was meant to be in this movie and as the themes of The Outsiders still resonate today, this is a movie that will always “Stay gold” in my eyes.
THE OUTSIDERS: THE COMPLETE NOVEL IS NOW AVAILABLE ON 4K BLU-RAY IN SELECT STORES AND ONLINE
Written by: Leo Brady