…and the quest to see everything

Archive for February 16, 2011

The Outsiders


Seven minutes or so into The Outsiders, the greasers sneak into a drive-in. This place is important because this is where two stratified adolescent groups can meet other than school. Dallas (Matt Dillon) and his greasers bother Cherry Valance (Diane Lane), a ‘soche.’ This this the dumbest name for a social group ever. Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) finally convince Dal to leave her alone.

ph. Warner

Cherry decides to talk to Ponyboy and Johnny despite the class distinction and sees them as too young to acquire the toughness that greasers have. After Cherry’s boyfriend separates this informal, unofficial mixer between these two groups, Johnny talks about his hopes for a utopia where there are no greasers or soches. Watching this part of the movie I wonder what their grandchildren would have listened to or what they would have called their social groups.

This film is a chance to see young actors when their talents haven’t evolved yet. The list of bit actors are names who’ll be big years after this film, including Tom Cruse, Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe. All of them deliver at least one badly delivered line, and there’s something strange about watching kids smoke or talk about weed. But the acting could have been worse. It’s chilling to watch Howell and Macchio after Johnny kills Cherry’s boyfriend, the disgust they feel towards themselves after the crime that no child should feel about themselves.

Although I shouldn’t judge a source material I haven’t read yet, I still have a problem with its worldview or director Francis Ford Coppola’s interpretation of it. shouldn’t the two groups just keep to themselves and save themselves the trouble? As I grow older I find it harder to relate to youth and its follies, and I wish I could tap into that again so I could watch this film better.

Running away from a murder charge, Dal advises Johnny and Ponyboy to stay out of the suburb for a while and stay at an abandoned church. Stuck by themselves and with a Civil war novel, they have a chance to grow differently from their peer group. They eventually have to face the conflict between them and the soches through a rumble, but the film doesn’t reach out enough to make me care what happens next.