I need to take a blog break with a lighter topic, a boy-toy sorbet if you will, as we travel into the final half of the April A to Z blog challenge. Gonna give a shout out down memory lane to “The Outsiders,” the Frances Ford Coppola film with what seems like every boy candy actor in 1983 (including Tom Cruise’s original and, in my opinion, better nose).
The story is set in the 1960s but it could be any time, making it relatable to audiences of any era. A Fresno elementary school class originally brought the S. E. Hinton book to Coppola’s attention. And Coppola brought it to glorious life with gorgeous scenes with illuminated sunsets as backdrops to those baby-face close ups. The cast includes C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Leif Garrett and Diane Lane.
Just watching the trailer awakens personal sense memories and emotions of adolescence; the warmth, stirrings, intensity, passion, discovery and maturing within a teen summer. Warning: I will be objectifying males. No apologies. I mean, come on!:
Segue moment: I can’t help but flash on the “Men on Film” bits from “In Living Color,” with Damon Wayans and Tommy Thompson, as I am about to discuss the young, adolescent stirrings of group of young “mens” entangled in conflicts and adult situations that are much too challenging for their years, as they run wild together in the warm, coming-of-age summer, often shirtless and sweaty. I give “The Outsiders” “two snaps and a twist!”
(I can hear my ex now, “Down. Debbie.”)
As much as I seem to imply you can get all your enjoyment from “The Outsiders” with the sound down, I assure you these performances are worth hearing, too. The movie was a hit and was nominated for best film by the Young Artist Awards, as was Coppola for director and Lane for best actress. Howell won the Young Artist Award for “Best Young Motion Picture Actor in a Feature Film.” This is one of Howell’s best, both believable and heartbreaking. His character, Ponyboy, also narrates the film. Macchio’s performance as Johnny is wise and powerful beyond his years. Swayze, Dillon and Lowe have their stand-out moments, as well.
Coppola manages to capture and highlight the unique energy of each actor’s budding stardom, as well as those subtle moments of adolescent awkwardness. One of my favorite moments is between Ponyboy and Cherry (Howell and Lane). Cherry is academically and socially above his class so when she notices this motherless child is without a coat. Howell tries to conceal his embarrassment and his goosebumps. You feel his shame as he distracts her and over-compensates with his cigarette-lighting skills. It’s a lovely, real and tender moment, of which there are many to warm your heart and make you cry,
The story’s “Greasers,” “Socs” and a gang knife fight carry parallels to “West Side Story” but without dance numbers. And unlike the musical, this movie is about the characters and A-level performances, coupled with a glorious soundtrack composed by Carmine Coppola (also did the Godfather soundtracks and is Frances’ dad). Stevie Wonder sings “Stay Gold,” a memorable song you will be humming the next day.
Did I mention the eye candy? Thanks to Coppola and cast, this thirty-three-year-old movie will forever stay gold. Stay gold, boys, stay gold.