Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Outsiders


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.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 1/14/2006 07:14:00 PM that...

Maybe you should do the SE Hinton/FF Coppola double feature and hit Rumble Fish.

What!? C Thomas Howell as the one with the least talent!? I think you are neglecting his inspired performance in Red Dawn...come to think of it...that Swayze/Howell tandem is unstoppable.

It is true, it is a who's who of young "talent" forgot singing legengs Tom Waits and Leif Garrett...  

Blogger mcat_151515 noted on 1/19/2006 05:28:00 PM that...

This movie was unique in that 1] the book, which I LOVED when I was 10 years old, is laughable now "It was nice being able to sit by a girl in a movie and not have to beat her off with a club." [From book when Ponyboy, dragged down to "miniature pony fetus", and Johnny-done amazingly well in a shitty film rendition of a "good" book- by "Karate Kid" Ralph M., were approached by luscious Diane Lane- at her most beautiful, I felt- and friend; now what hormonally-balanced hetero "tough kid" would "enjoy not being propositioned" by a female of any quality at that age? NONE! I found that S.E. Hinton is a woman after reading the book, and this was the only "clueless" part of the book I found that suggested either a woman or a quadraplegic was the author.
This film's directing was awful; NONE of the book's glue holding the story together was even given a chance be in this choppy, sloppy, erratic farcical film. It omitted many salient points, which is understandable, given time constraints from book to screen, but the pace was like hearing Alvin and the Chipmunks sing "Amazing Grace"; ridiculous and losing all original meaning.

"In order of talent"; I think only Matt Dillon is necessarily in the right place; he was/is a great actor; Tom Cruise, if anyone noticed him, had a "bit part", as Rob Lowe's best friend, Steve [the most "reduced" of all characters from the book and Cruise did NOT "light up" even in his narrow time; granted, I do hate Tom Cruise and his pathologically "Rock Hudsonish" "marriage" to catholic school girl Katie Holmes [can you imagine how fucked-up that kid will be?], but while I think he is THE example of "the power of advertising/suggestion" - women were "told" to like him by the media execs, as he would kiss ass with the best of them [see Time magazine, July, 1986, around the time of "Top Gun"; high point was seeing the death of that asshole Anthony Edwards, which I enjoyed again on "ER"]; C.T. Howell "flamed out"; he was in several "big promos" centered around him [Grandview, USA, etc] and I guess he is "pretty"; but let's face it, he is a "bad" actor; really, really bad; bland, no range, typical "Tiger Beat" coverboy.

The stabbing victim of the "soc", which also was rushed through and did not capture the essence in the book that was NOT about "class wars" but about "teen angst"; the soc's served the role of "antagonist" that a school administrator, rival athletic team, rival social peer, or vampires in Buffy's case, can fill in any story set in this part of a person's life. Leif Garret was the unfortunate "rich prick" who got fatally knifed [albeit he had it coming, more for being a pre-pubescent "hearthrob" with as much sex appeal as Mick Jagger, without any musical talent, than his character's sadistic actions]

Leif has struggled with drug addictions, and all the "child star" traumas; his career stalled, prematurely even for a "Tiger Beat boy", when he crashed his car and put his buddy, a "Disco Roller skating star" [honest, look it up if you doubt it], in a wheelchair for life, and got sued for it. Go figure. And my older friends say I am too critical of Disco.

You should peruse the web for the "shrines" actively going by young women who worship C Thomas Howell still; not just a few, but dozens. One thing you didn't mention I find interesting, from this very unique entry film of men who would be "stars", there is crossover to THE BRAT PACK: Emilio and Rob Lowe; Remember the members? Parade magazine did a huge "prediction" about them, and picked Ally Sheedy as the "most probable mega star"; the actual one? Demi Moore! Despite that salty Barritone and HORRID boob job [see her in "Blame it on Rio", where she appears topless, and an "A cup" bra would hold those bananas with enough room for critical damnings of "Saint Elmos Fire" to spare!]

In short; The Outsiders had one of the best posters of any film, ever; considering the talent, the story, and resources, it was one of the worst films EVER made.