Monday, June 03, 2013

The Outsiders 1983

Lush, dreamlike and adolescent in story and look this 1983 film directed it seems on a feverish whim, a pipedream by Francis Ford Coppola is a hot house kiss to build a wet dream on of a movie. Three brothers, motherless and fatherless, whose parents were killed in a car stuck on a railroad track accident, are living in a last picture show 60’s Oklahoma town in a rundown house without the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, simply trying to get along without much of much. There’s no “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” here. We meet the youngest of these lost boys of the prairie Ponyboy who opens the film writing in his composition book about coming out of the movies into the sunlight thinking only of Paul Newman who he just saw in “The Hustler” and getting home. This is a beautiful opening to begin this movie with.  The titles have gone by in Gone with the Wind style with a soulful song sung by Stevie Wonder about staying Gold. Played by C. Thomas Howell Ponyboy is the sensitive one of the three brothers, the others are a very pretty Rob Lowe named Sodapop and a muscle hunk of meat squeezed into tight denim by Patrick Swayze who is the angry and oldest of the brothers, the father and mother substitute who had to give up his youth and life to raise his two brothers and for my money Patrick left us way too soon. They are poor and they are the “Greasers” of the town who along with their fellow buds are in constant motion and combat with the “Socials” who are the jocks and privileged boys living on the right side of town. But we never see the right side only the wrong. Also in the crew are the very young Tom Cruise (who C. Thomas Howell calls a sissy on the dvd extras), Emilio Estevez still throwing off the baby fat, and Ralph Macchio who recycles Plato the Sal Mineo troubled boy of “Rebel without a Cause” with his big moony eyes, sad story and boy crush love for Ponyboy. Now of course all of the homoerotic feelings that the boys feel for each other is naturally or unnaturally repressed this being 1963 O- K- L- A- H- O- M- A, so there is a lot of under the counter here including sadness, longing and big drops of tears coming out of all the boys eyes. Ponyboy is the sensitive one as I said. He quotes Robert Frost poems and loves the book “Gone with the Wind” and is no doubt the stand in for S.E. Hinton who wrote this throbbing book when she was just 16. These boys break your heart; they can’t help but break your heart. Even Matt Dillon as Dallas who is all pouty and beautiful, sexy without a shirt, and is the bad one of the greasers but not really bad just bad enough to break our hearts. Ponyboy is close with his brother Sodapop and there is a scene of them at night holding on to each other in their small bed that borders on incestuous and gay and was taken out of the original release of the film because it was just too hot but Coppola has put it back in this great restored dvd where it belongs. The “Greasers” are always in conflict and combat with the “Socials”  of the town, the pretty boys rich and privileged jocks in their chinos and plaid shirts who drive around town in their daddy’s cars tormenting the greasers who lash out and usually beat the shit out of them but not always. There is a rumble in the rain that is beautifully done and photographed by the great cinematographer Stephen H. Burum who uses lots of yellows and oranges and browns throughout this movie highlighted by sunsets never before seen, shot on backstage and in front of blue screens. The one girl in the film is played by the pretty Diane Lane who is called Cherry because of her red hair and is one of the privileged kids, but is drawn to the “Greasers” especially to the sensitive Ponyboy who pines for her, but this one sided June Moon goes nowhere, instead Ponyboy and Macchio are involved in an act of violence and run off with the help of Matt Dillon to a little run down church where they hole up eating baloney sandwiches, reading Gone With The Wind and nestling and nesting with each other until retribution and redemption comes a calling. One of the ten best films of 1983


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