The Outsiders, a coming of age drama that starred several up and coming young actors, is turning 40 this month. The movie is based on the novel by S.E. Hinton, who wrote the book in 1967 while she was still in high school. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Outsiders debuted in theaters on March 25, 1983.
The themes of class differences, family dysfunction, and growing up too fast are prevalent in The Outsiders. It follows a group of greasers, including the Curtis brothers Darry, Ponyboy, and Sodapop, as well as their friends Johnny, Dallas, Two-Bit, and Steve. Darry, the eldest Curtis brother is left to raise his younger teenage brothers after their parents’ deaths, and Johnny is a victim of domestic violence. The boys routinely butt heads with the upper class boys from the neighborhood, known as Socs, which reaches a boiling point that leaves some of the boys dead and the rest reflecting on what’s to come of their futures.
The Outsiders is best known for its impressive cast of young actors, many of whom went on to become well known stars. The Curtis brothers were played by Patrick Swayze (Darry), C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy), and Rob Lowe (Sodapop), Ralph Macchio starred as Johnny, Matt Dillon played Dally, Tom Cruise was Steve, and Emilio Estevez played Two-Bit. Diane Lane had the lone featured female role of Cherry Valance, and musicians Leif Garrett and Tom Waits also appeared in the movie.
It was nominated for four Young Artist Awards with Howell winning for Best Young Motion Picture Actor in a Feature Film. Though The Outsiders received mixed reviews by critics, the movie’s portrayal of the lives of poor teenagers has influenced coming of age projects that followed.