The spring semester was winding down as my YA Genre classmates and I discussed Francis Ford Coppola’s onscreen adaptation of “The Outsiders.” We recently watched it as a follow-up to reading the novel in the first week of classes and to compare how each format told the story of greasers versus socs.

I always feel nostalgic about the movie, remembering when several neighborhood friends and I watched it together. Back then, we all had our favorite actors among the cast; mine were Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze. As my spring semester classmates talked about the movie, everyone most favored the late Swayze as the eldest Curtis brother, Darry.

Someone in class stated that Matt Dillon in the role of tough greaser Dallas Winston didn’t appeal to her. Although he wasn’t one of the actors I liked the most when I was younger, I think he might have been had I first watched “The Outsiders” in high school. That’s when I began to notice the rebellious, bad-boy type of guys in real life. I think Dillon was great as Dallas, a.k.a. Dally, for his character’s streetwise talk, facial expressions and overall demeanor.

Having several film classes behind me, there are many other reasons why “The Outsiders” is a favorite onscreen adaptation. This is why I am a fan not only of the book, but the movie as well. These have to do with cuts and fades to represent moments in the book in a different way to the audience.

One example is part of Johnny’s background story in which he had been jumped by socs in the book. In the movie, his nervous demeanor from that history is intensified by close-up cuts going back and forth from his eyes to brass knuckle rings worn by a certain guy. Rather than showing when it happened, there is a brief story being told of trouble having occurred and Johnny puts up his guard.

Another moment of movie editing that I liked was the fade to the old church as Ponyboy and Johnny first saw it. That visual transition had a dreamy feel. Maybe because it represented a new day for the two friends, as well as a place where they’d let some time pass in hopes for a resolution to prior events. Also, the dreaminess reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, when Ponyboy recites it to Johnny while gazing out at the beautiful sky.

Seeing the emotion of the characters throughout the story was also a great element brought to life in the acting. Dally made for a perfect example, because he comes off so tough. However, Johnny’s fate hit him hard and I feel that he broke down more than anyone.

The clothes and cars were two more aspects I liked, partly as a way to show the time period. Socs wore the preppy styles; greasers had the rebel look of leather jackets, t-shirts or tank tops and jeans. That blue Mustang in which a group of guys from the socs drive up in is one cool car. When I see a classic of Ford’s iconic car, I always wish I had one, especially a red convertible. Johnny’s description of the soc Mustang is perfect.

So, for these reasons, I said in class that I favor the Coppola’s adaptation of “The Outsiders” nearly if not equally as much as Hinton’s novel. I love books, but am also a great fan of movies for their visuals and the acting talent.

Check out my blog post on Bookish Grad for more of my thoughts on the novel.

What do you think of “The Outsiders” movie in comparison to the novel? Who was your favorite cast / character onscreen?