‘The Outsiders’ was a stepping stone for its cast
When I was in the 7th or 8th grade I, along with the rest of my English class, were forced to read the book “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. Now, I enjoy reading but I don’t like being told to read something, so I hated the experience.
What made it somewhat bearable was watching the movie adaptation after we finished the book. I decided to rewatch it for the first time in almost a decade to see if it was as ok of a movie as I remembered.
Aside from some interesting directorial choices I would say overall the film is still pretty watchable.
“The Outsiders” came out in 1983 with a host of actors that would go on to become well known names. From research I’ve learned a lot of them made up a popular group called the “Brat Pack.” I’m sure I could ask my Mom all about these actors having grown up in the 1980s (and maybe she will after reading this… hi Mom!).
Let’s get back on topic. The movie stars major names such as Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell.
The film takes place in the late 1960s in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the town is divided into the north and south sides. In the north there’s the “Socials” a group of high end teenagers who are well off. And then there’s the subject of this film, the “Greasers” who live on the south side of the tracks in low income neighborhoods.
Ponyboy Curtis (Howell) is a 14-year-old kid living with his brother Sodapop (Lowe) and Darrel (Swayze) after their parents died in a car accident.
Ponyboy is seen as a bit more soft spoken than the other Greasers such as Two-Bit Matthews (Estevez), Steve Randle (Cruise) and Dallas Winston (Matt Dillon).
One night Ponyboy, Dallas and Johnny (Macchio) go to the drive-in movie where they meet Cherry Valance (Diane Lane) and Marica (Michelle Meyrink) who have ditched their drunk boyfriends — Socials Bob Sheldon (Leif Garrett) and Randy Anderson (Darren Dalton).
Ponyboy and Johnny defend the girls from Dallas who makes suggestive remarks and gets into Cherry’s personal space much to her dismay.
The boys are walking the two girls home when their boyfriends approach them ready to fight the Greasers. Cherry manages to placate Bob and Randy by agreeing to go with them.
Of course the two “Socs” won’t forget about the boys daring to go near their girls. This moment is what sparks the main storyline of the film, one I won’t give away in the off chance you haven’t seen it.
“The Outsiders” has a great ensemble cast that work well together I think. You’ve got Macchio who many believed gave a moving performance as Johnny, a boy who wishes he could run away from his abusive home and a world where things are so divided.
It’s not surprising Macchio does so well given that he goes on to give memorable performances in “The Karate Kid” franchise starting in 1984.
There’s also Dillon who was more than likely a heartthrob back in the day playing the bad boy who acted as Ponyboy and Johnny’s somewhat reluctant guardian throughout the movie.
Howell also did a great job playing the soft spoken Ponyboy who loves to read books and poetry and is just trying to handle the cards life dealt him.
Overall I think the movie does a good job of showing the class issues that still exist even today on a less diverse playing field. Granted, it’s definitely a lot more over dramatic given the fact that the two “gangs” meet up and fight each other in an all out brawl. (Seriously where are the police or some of their parents?) But the 80s were another era I suppose, one that I never lived in so I wouldn’t know how things worked back then.
“The Outsiders” can be rented from Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play and is available on HBO Max with a subscription.
So if you want to be thrown back into your middle school English class like me go ahead and watch this classic film. Maybe even read the book after… I’m considering it.
Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.