Dir: Francis Ford Coppola (Jack; Captain EO)
Ripe slice of homoeroticism exploring class struggle in a midwestern town. I had not seen this film since I was a wee lad, and all I remembered was Ralph Macchio with a knife. While there is a lot to like about the film, the best part by far was seeing the incredible stable (pun intended) of young actors at the beginning of their careers.
Dig this cast list: Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, C.Thomas Howell and the aforementioned Karate Kid. That list is in order of talent, BTW. Standouts in The Outsiders are Dillon and especially Swayze, who does the uncertain father figure thing very well. Of course, every single one of these boys spends half the movie with his shirt off, 'cause you know, they're tough. Here again Swayze is the standout, and by that I mean pecs; it is no mystery why this movie holds such a cult following.
The story is boilerplate. "Greasers" and "Socs" are from opposite sides of the tracks, and when a fight goes tragically wrong both sides learn the true meaning of Christmas. The dialogue, though, is rather strong. And the ruminations on manhood and independence make the story fresher than most. Told entirely from the point of view of the lower class gang, the treatment is more sophisticated than one would expect.
Coppola, too, shows touch. Many quite beautiful shots. I watched the expanded DVD version, which seems to have hurt the film overall. The added scenes, while more faithful to the novel, are superfluous to the movie, especially the tacked on coda of a new ending. Plus, the soundtrack has apparently been beefed up (informed sources tell me!), with a monotonous rock and roll beat coming over some of the more emotional parts of the movie. In this instance, whoever trimmed the film in the first place had the right idea.
I am glad I have seen this now. One of those films from my generation that I had neglected.