Sometimes you don't always know when a movie comes out about its ultimate significance in the grand scheme of the history of the moving image and it takes time to genuinely look back and see where it sits in the annals of time. "The Outsiders" is a visual dynamo about the pain and angst of the rebellious teen years that stands as not only one of the best the genre but an underrated gem in the canon of a genuine icon of modern filmmaking and is now available as it was intended to be seen.
That time between the innocence of childhood and the disillusionment of adulthood is a dangerous and unforgettable time in more ways than we could have ever possibly imagined at the time. In 1966, Tulsa, Oklahoma things are shockingly cold and simple as there are simply two classes of teenager. If you're a soc, you've got money, a car and shot at a genuine future. However if you are a greaser, you're an outsider and a nobody and the only thing you can call your own is your friends and the dream that one day you MIGHT be a somebody.
Coming off an experience that nearly killed him with "Apocalypse Now" and finding his storytelling legs once again, Frances Ford Coppola takes the novel of "The Outsiders" and makes it into a gripping cinematic experience about the angst, pain and uncertainty of youth.
Returning more to his roots with something a little grittier after his experimental journey into the movie musical with "One From The Heart", Coppola captures the essence and the grit of this experience as we track young PonyBoy (C Thomas Howell) tell this story that catapulted him from a boy to a man in a rather jarring fashion. With an additional 23 minutes from the original theatrical cut, this movie packs more of an emotional punch as it unfolds in the shadow filled streets and dirty back rooms where these greasers could only ever rely on each other.
Coppola made this small town simply feel epic in scope and in nature as what was probably only the radius of a few square blocks felt like a universe to these characters who simply had no hope or no apparent reason to aspire to something better then what they are. He successfully captures misspent anger, confusion and resentment and channels them in making something that was stunningly beautiful inside this world of grime that these eclectic and vibrant characters got to exist in.
In 1983 this ensemble was the who's who of up and coming young actors. C Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio break out in what was the first leading feature work for both and while their acting chaps may not have been 100% up to snuff, it was all about capturing the angst of the age and both did a great job of bringing that to the screen. The rest of the ensemble is littered with names like Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon (In another underrated performance), Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Leif Garrett and Tom Cruise, most of whom just weren't established yet because even though none of them had any genuine break out moments they were all a part of something that was bigger than themselves...which is why this movie works. No matter or social standing, at one time or another, we were all the age and we can all relate and mirror own experience in what happens with these characters on screen.
Coppola and author S.E. Hilton had such a good relationship then went on to work together with "Rumble Fish" and with many of the ensemble cast on future efforts but this presentation of "The Outsiders: The Complete Novel" marks Coppola finding his second wind after a decade of mastery that almost killed him.
4 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features include some vintage behind the scenes looks at the making of the film as well as one's about its historical importance and two feature length commentary tracks recorded for the DVD release years ago one with Francis Ford Coppola himself and another with several of the Greasers (Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, C Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio).
"The Outsiders: The Complete Novel" is now available on Blu-Ray from all major retailers.