The Outsiders

The Outsiders

Synopsis of Movie

Based on S.E. Hinton’s popular 1967 buddy novel (which she wrote when she was just sixteen years old), The Outsiders was a lot of things: a fable of the rich vs. poor and the haves vs. have-nots, a coming-of age story, a romance, and a veritable gallery of fledgling teen actors who we would watch grow up onscreen.

Director Francis Ford Coppola takes the novel's timeframe back a few years, setting his film in the 1950’s to evoke the sweeping but earnest teen melodrama of films like Rebel Without a Cause. And in 50’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, there were just two sides: the “Soc’s” (pronounced "SO-shiz") and the “Greasers.” The Soc’s have Mustangs and wear preppy, just-ironed Oxfords. The Greasers skulk around in T-shirts and jeans, both rolled up, and put a lot of pomade in their hair. Sensitive Ponyboy, who narrates the story, has been living with brothers Sodapop and Darry ever since their parents died in a car accident. With no "adults" around to interfere, the boys' house serves as the hangout for all the local Greaser boys.

When an auburn-maned Soc named Cherry takes a liking to Pony, the tacit creed that says the two groups never interact has been violated. Two rich bullies ambush Pony and Johnny in the park, and as they nearly drown Ponyboy, Johnny stabs one of his attackers in the melee. The two Greasers go into hiding, camping out at an abandoned church where they dye their hair, smoke copious cigarettes and talk about their teenage, wrong-side-of-the-tracks lives. Returning back to their temporary church home one afternoon, they find that a fire has broken out, and there’s a classroom of little kids playing inside. Pony and Johnny brave the flames to save them, and Johnny ends up in the hospital.

To protect local turf, meanwhile, a rumble is in the works back at the neighborhood. The fighters can use fists, not knives, but when Greaser leader Dallas Winston riles up his gang with battle cry, “We’ll do it for Johnny!,” anything goes.

Besides the aforementioned Brat Packers and Hollywood studs-in-the-making, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez and Leif Garrett also appeared in the film. During filming, to create tension between the warring sides, Coppola arranged for the actors playing the Soc’s to be given fancy leather bound scripts and deluxe hotel accommodations, and the Greasers read shabby scripts and stayed in lousy rooms. The book’s author Hinton made a cameo appearance as a nurse, and Tom Waits played an adult friend to greaser Darry.

The film also boasted a sweeping music score and stylized cinematography—from the dramatic, rain-pouring-down, slow-motion rumble to the lush golden sunsets—which matched the theme of “staying gold,” or of staying true to yourself and pure of heart, no matter how old you get or how many of life’s hard knocks come your way.

In 1990, fourteen episodes of a TV show based on the film were produced, and a new generation of good-looking young men were given a chance to prove their worth on the mean streets of small-town America.

Movie Release History

1983 - The Outsiders

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

Warner Bros.


Ponyboy Curtis  C. Thomas Howell
Dallas Winston  Matt Dillon
Johnny Cade  Ralph Macchio
Darrel Curtis  Patrick Swayze
Sodapop Curtis  Rob Lowe
Two-Bit Matthews  Emilio Estevez
Steve Randle  Tom Cruise
Tim Shepard  Glenn Withrow
Cherry Valance  Diane Lane
Bob Sheldon  Leif Garrett
Randy Anderson  Darren Dalton
Marcia   Michelle Meyrink
Buck Merrill  Tom Waits
Jerry   Gailard Sartain
Store Clerk  William Smith
Greaser in Concession Stand   Tom Hillmann
Soc in Concession Stand  Hugh Watkinshaw
Little Girl  Sofia Coppola
Woman at Fire  Teresa Wilkerson Hunt
Nurse  Linda Nystedt
Nurse  S.E. Hinton
Suburb Guy  Brent Beesley
Paul John Meier  Motorcycle Cop
Orderly  Daniel R. Suhart
Drive-In Theater  Patron Steve Osborn

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