C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Glenn Withrow, Leif Garrett, Darren Dalton, Michelle Meyrink, Gailard Sartain Update Cast
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As Chandler Bing would say: "Could there BE any more famous people in this?"
The movie which launched a thousand careers …well seven actually, is an emotive and powerful drama about the lives and misadventures of a group of small town youths who find themselves growing up on the outskirts of society, trying to make the best of what they have.
These Greasers go to drive-ins, decipher poetry and engage in sporadic rumbles with the over-privileged Socs (i.e. socialites).
There's the responsible Darrel Curtis (Swayze) his kid brothers Sodapop (Lowe) and our apprehensive narrator, Ponyboy (Howell), all round good bloke Dallas Winston (Dillon), tough guy Steve Randle (Cruise) Mickey Mouse fan 2-bit Matthews (Eztevez) and self effacing Johnny Cade (Macchio).
Outsiders is one of those rare films whose every moment makes some kind of impression on the viewer; for one of the first movie scenes I ever remember was C. Thomas Howell's "Stay Gold" speech and despite the fact that it would be about 18 years until I saw this film again, that scene had always stayed with me, as had the fire rescue.
Francis Ford Coppola, he of ‘Godfather’ / ‘Apocalypse Now’ fame, directs this skilfully acted adaptation with a real sense of care and attention to detail, however it's the cast, each giving a measured, well-researched performance, who really hold your attention...
...Which is just as well; for without the inevitable bias that we call nostalgia, Outsiders is arguably a simplistic tale which attempts to deal with complicated issues about class, loyalties and friendship in a sometimes haphazard manner.
It's a very rough, dark reel, rich in depth with some beautiful cinematography and it manages to achieve a near-impossible combination of good acting, writing and direction. -There's even a touch of West Side Story here, what with Ponyboy trying to chat up Soc, Cherry Valance (Lane) and the drastic consequences which follow.
One of the more subtle scenes in the movie involves Ponyboy and an enemy Soc having a sit-down and quite simply talking their problems through, it's a surprisingly moving scene which serves as an allegory for so many things that are happening in the world today. And how, if two kids; not a Greaser or a Soc, but just two people, can put their troubles aside for a second, well then as clichéd and pseudo-Lennon as it might sound --maybe one day a sense of reason will dawn upon everybody…
...Or maybe not, judging from the somewhat over-the-top battle royal finale.
Watching The Outsiders is like watching a Bruce Spingsteen song come to life; it's about your hometown, about being born to run and how chasing a runaway American dream in the face of economic deprivation can lead anyone astray.
The movie is nicely book-ended by Howell's prosaic yet insightful monologues, whilst a series of bizarre twists and some excellent method acting (particularly from Matt Dillon) sets this film apart from others of it’s genre.
The only drawbacks being, that like many good movies, you may need to consider its merit a few hours later and only then can you appreciate how unforgettable it actually is, other than that, this is as close to perfect filmmaking / storytelling as it's possible to get.
The Outsiders is about nothing and everything: An absolute classic, which comes highly recommended.
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