STUDIO: Warner Home
MSRP: $26.99
RUNNING TIME: 113 min.
• Watch the Movie with the Director
• Watch the Movie with the Greasers and a Soc
• Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Outsiders
• S.E. Hinton on Location in Tulsa
• The Casting of The Outsiders
• Readings
• NBC News Today Segment
• Additional Scenes
• Original Theatrical Trailer

By the early 1980s, Francis Ford Coppola was no longer a young upstart filmmaker. He was, however, enduring something of a professional midlife crisis following the traumas of Apocalypse Now and One From the Heart. It makes sense then that his next project was a return to childhood.

It also follows that, being Francis Ford Coppola, he couldn’t keep it simple. On his watch, S.E. Hinton’s lyric tale of hard-luck teenagers mutated into the Ultimate Rumble Movie– West Side Story meets Rebel Without a Cause, with a touch of Badlands.

Closed-captioning has come a long way since the ’60s.

And then there was the whole Gone With the Wind
thing. Presented in the context of an epic, mythic saga, the Last Summer of Childhood, the characters were reduced
to archetypes and symbols instead of living, breathing, flawed

It’s been 22 years. Coppola has had time to think; time to drain his personal movie obsessions from the film and let Hinton’s story seep back in. Hence, the Complete Novel.

The Flick

Derry, Sodapop, and Ponyboy are orphaned brothers living on their own in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1960s. They and their extended family of Greasers are constantly hassled by the rich society kids, or Soc’s. A fight gets out of hand; Ponyboy and his friend Johnny become self-styled fugitives. Fate, love, and tragedy push all down the hard road to adulthood.

"Tulsa. Shit. I’m still in Tulsa."

This is a substantially different movie from the 1983 release. Even the opening titles have been changed. Coppola has restored over 20 minutes to the film, including a lengthy opening sequence that parallels the first chapter of the novel. We can be thankful that the ever-profligate director actually filmed the whole freaking book before the cuts were made, but the biggest change is retroactive: the near-total removal of Carmine Coppola’s overbearing, melodramatic orchestral score. Our emotional cues now come directly from the actors, and it’s a revelation.

About those actors. Dig this cast: C. Thomas Howell. Matt Dillon. Ralph Macchio. Rob Lowe. Patrick Swayze. Emilio Estevez. Tom Cruise. The ’80s encapsulated. Nearly every one of them at the very beginnings of their careers. Some would never be better.

"Put Baby in the corner. See if I care."

Oh. This young lady too:

This extended version reveals a shift in emphasis on who exactly the central characters are. The biggest name at the time was Matt Dillon, which is kind of remarkable since he’d only really been seen in three movies: Over the Edge, My Bodyguard, and Hinton’s Tex. When the studio started getting nervous about early test screenings, they cut scenes that didn’t directly involve Dillon’s character Dally, in an attempt to make him the default star of the film. Since Dally doesn’t have anything to do with the incident that sets the plot in motion, this threw off the balance of the narrative.

Matt’s ‘no-hands’ puppet show closed out of town.

Now we have a better sense of what Hinton wrote: a story about three brothers. It’s not perfect– we still don’t see enough of Sodapop to understand his quiet influence on the other two, and it’s not clear how the family supports itself or whether anyone has a job.

I kind of miss the old GWTW-style opening title for its sheer audacity, and Coppola really should have re-thought some of his more artsy flourishes, especially the weird split-screen effects that pop up near the end. On the whole, though, The Outsiders is more watchable (and listenable) now than it ever has been, and aside from the shocking youth of its cast, it hasn’t dated at all.

8 out of 10

The Look

"No more chili for you."

Stephen H. Burum’s stunning ‘scope cinematography gets a terrific anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer with bold colors and strong blacks. The restored footage is occasionally grainy and desaturated, but not too distracting.

9 out of 10

The Noise

Not too showy for a new 5.1 mix, but the focus is on the actors’ voices, where it should be. The deleted orchestral score has been replaced with period rock ’n’ roll, including three essential Elvis tunes. You ’80s-nostalgic types will be happy to know that “Stay Gold” still plays over the opening and closing credits.

7 out of 10

"What’s the password?"

The Goodies

The sole extras on Disc One are a pair of commentaries—one with Coppola, the other with Howell, Macchio, Lane, and Swayze sitting together with additional words from Dillon and Lowe edited in.

If you’ve heard any of Coppola’s tracks before, you know you’re in for a treat. The man loves to talk almost as much as he loves films, and he touches on every aspect of the production without losing track of the action onscreen. He’s refreshingly critical of his own work, at one point berating himself for choosing the wrong angle on a scene: "Stupid Francis! Stupid Francis!". He also apologizes repeatedly to his late father regarding the music, but in spite of his evident guilt it’s clear he made the right decision.

The cast commentary is warm and good-natured, and their reaction to the new edit, which they’re seeing for the first time, is priceless. Lowe, whose character Sodapop benefits most from the restored footage, is particularly touching.

A recurring subject for both commentaries: Crushing on Diane Lane.

On to Disc Two:

Staying Gold is a new 25 minute documentary about the genesis of the project and features some of the videotaped rehearsal footage that Coppola used to plan the film with his pioneering “electronic cinema” system.

S.E. Hinton on Location is a new 7.5 minute piece with the author touring locations from the film.

Casting (14 min) is an amazing compilation of vintage videotaped auditions, including also-rans such as Helen Slater, Kate Capshaw, Adam Baldwin, and Anthony Michael Hall.

In Readings, the actors from the commentary session (plus a haggard Leif Garrett) perform descriptive passages from the book, each relating to their respective characters. ‘Play All’ totals about half an hour.

There’s also a vintage TV news piece about the Fresno grade-school class who inspired Coppola to make the film, and a collection of deleted and alternate scenes. The video quality here is very rough.

Sofia quickly learned the first rule of filmmaking: Have a camera.

I wish they’d stuck that original opening title in somewhere, but honestly– this is how you do a Special Edition.

9.5 out of 10

The Artwork

Can’t go wrong with a classic: the original poster photo, reformatted with updated titles and credits, over black. It would have been nice if they’d taken the opportunity to group the three brothers together though.

7.5 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 out of 10