Film Review: The Outsiders (1983)

Release Date: March 25th, 1983
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Kathleen Rowell
Based on: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Music by: Carmine Coppola
Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Leif Garrett, Tom Waits

Zoetrope Studios, Warner Bros., 91 Minutes (original theatrical), 114 Minutes (2005 extended edition)

Review:

Francis Ford Coppola was once an amazing director. Some of his work, later in life, just doesn’t compare to his earlier films. At the height of his quality run, he directed The Outsiders.

This film is a classic but it seems to have faded away in recent years. When I was growing up, this movie was on television all the time and it was something that just about everyone had seen and loved. I’ve never met anyone who has seen the film and not had a favorable opinion about it.

Part of its greatness, is that it boasts some serious talent. The Outsiders is packed full of 1980s male icons and this was just before they all broke out and became huge stars. Coppola had a real eye for talent, as almost every single young man in this movie went on to have pretty big careers.

The movie is based off of a stellar novel. The story follows a few young men in 1960s Tulsa, Oklahoma. The main characters are from the wrong side of the tracks and are a part of a gang referred to as the Greasers. Their rivals are the rich kids who live across town. They are called the Socs (pronounced “so-shiz”, as it is short for “socials”). There is a violent confrontation and the youngest kid in the Greasers stabs and kills a Soc in an effort to prevent his best friend from being drowned in a park fountain. The kids go on the run and hide out but while away, they save a bunch of children from a burning schoolhouse and are branded heroes. All the while, Johnny, the youngest Greaser, is hospitalized due to burns and smoke inhalation. Everything leads to a big rumble, two huge tragedies for the group and the boys learning that they have to be each other’s family in a world that rejects them.

The Outsiders is a beautiful motion picture backed by a beautiful score. It also features a fantastic title track by Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately, the score is replaced by popular 1960s tunes in the 2005 extended edition of the film. Now the extended edition is great for all the deleted scenes that were put back into the movie, making it almost a half hour longer, but it loses the emotional weight of the original version due to trading out the perfect score for 60s rock and roll. While the music is fitting to the historical time of the movie, it is distracting if you’ve seen The Outsiders in its original form. I hope that there is eventually an extended edition with the original music restored.

The Outsiders is in the upper echelon of Francis Ford Coppola’s oeuvre. While it is not a pillar of perfection like The Godfather I and II, it is better than the best movies of many other accomplished directors.

Film Review: God’s Gun (1976)

Also known as: Diamante Lobo (Italy)
Release Date: 1976 (Italy)
Directed by: Frank Kramer
Written by: John Fonseca, Frank Kramer
Music by: Sante Maria Romitelli
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Jack Palance, Richard Boone, Sybil Danning, Robert Lipton, Cody Palance, Leif Garrett

Golan-Globus Productions, Dunamis Cinematografica, Rovi Film Produktions, The Irwin Yablans Company, Cannon Films, 94 Minutes

gods_gunReview:

What’s better than two of the best western villains in history going head-to-head? Not much, really. Okay, maybe a lot actually, if we’re talking about this movie.

The film pits Lee Van Cleef against Jack Palance. In fact, Van Cleef plays two roles – a heroic priest and his gunslinging twin brother. Palance plays the villain and is just as sinister as he has always been.

The cast is rounded out by Richard Boone, Sybil Danning and a very young Leif Garrett.

God’s Gun is an entertaining enough film and it is a better-than-decent spaghetti western but it isn’t all that special. Van Cleef is always good and Palance is just a solid villain all around. The best part about this film is seeing these two legends come together. Everything else in the movie is pretty cookie cutter and some stuff, even for a spaghetti movie, is a bit hokey.

Compared to the works of spaghetti maestros Corbucci and Sollima, it lacks energy and seems pretty toned down in the violence department, which is bizarre for a film featuring killer rapists running rampant.

The characters are likable, the plot is fine and has a few surprises. Plus, the music was fairly good.

I like the film but I can instantly name a dozen or so Italian westerns that are much better than this one. It certainly isn’t a must-see unless you are an avid fan of Van Cleef, Palance, Boone, Danning or for some reason, Garrett.