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The Musings of a Blerd

The Outsiders is the 1983 coming-of-age film adaptation of the novel of the same name written by S.E. Hinton. Both the book and film have becoming classics and are favorites of mine. Here are 12 facts about the film.

1. The author

When she was 15, author S.E. Hinton began writing the original story and finished it when she was 16. The novel was published when Hinton was 18.

2. A real age difference

At the time of filming, the late Patrick Swayze was 31 years old. His character Darrel Curtis was eleven years years younger than him. Ralph Macchio was 21 years old and was 5 years older than the character Johnny Cade.

3. Character descriptions may vary

The character descriptions for Dallas, Two-Bit, and Steve Randle are a bit different in the film versus the novel. In the book, Dallas has blonde hair but his hair is jet black in the film; Two-Bit is six feet in the book, actor Emilio Estevez who played the character was 5’4”. Tom Cruise, who played Steve, was also shorter than the character he portrayed.

4. Learning how to smoke?

For their roles as Dallas and Ponyboy, actors Matt Dillon and C. Thomas Howell, who were teenagers at the time, had to learn how to smoke.

5. Film debut

The Outsiders was Rob Lowe’s film debut.

6. Friends who grow up together, audition together

Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise had been childhood friends before the film and showed up together at the audition.

7. Lost hat now found

The hat that Two-Bit finds in Johnny’s yard belonged to a crew member who had lost it when a large fan blew it off his head.

8. The ones who didn't make the cut

Actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Helen Slater, and Heather Langenkamp all auditioned for roles in the film but were not cast.

9. Who turned down the role?

Actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Brooke Shields both turned the role of Cherry which eventually went to Diane Lane. Dennis Quaid also turned down a role in order to appear in The Right Stuff.

10. The inspiration for making The Outsiders

Librarian Jo Ellen Misakian’s letter to director Francis Ford Coopla. Photo courtesy
Librarian Jo Ellen Misakian’s letter to director Francis Ford Coopla. Photo courtesy

The inspiration for director Francis Ford Coppola to make the film was due to librarian Jo Ellen Misakian and her students at Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno California who wrote letters to Coppola asking him to make the film adaptation.

11. Jail?

In order for Matt Dillon to ‘understand’ the character Dallas better, Francis Ford Coppola wanted him to spend a night in jail. Matt refused, saying, "No way, Francis, how about you go spend a night in jail?"

12. Cameo

S.E. Hinton plays the nurse at the hospital whom Dallas threatens with Two-Bit’s knife.

Bonus: Church fire!

Coppola's passion for realism nearly led to disaster. During the church-burning scene, he wanted more fire and the small controlled blaze turned into a larger uncontrolled fire that a downpour miraculously put out.

Click here to read more trivia about the film.


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