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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Outsiders - Two Disc Special Edition (RECOMMENDED).

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#1 of 45 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted September 13 2005 - 04:18 PM

The Outsiders
The Complete Novel
Two-Disc Special Edition

Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1983
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 113 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $26.99
Package: Two discs/regular Keepcase

The Feature:
The latest entry in Warner's coveted Two-Disc Special Edition series is the 1983 teen film, The Outsiders. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the film is an adaptation of S.E. Hinton's popular novel about troubled teenagers growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-sixties. The film centers around the conflicts of the two groups in town; the "greasers", poor kids from dysfunctional families with limited prospects, and the "socs", affluent kids from the nice part of town who want to be in control and keep the "greasers" in line. The story is told from the perspective of two young greasers, Ponyboy Curtis (played by C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny Cade (played by Ralph Macchio).

As the film opens, you see them hanging out with Dallas Winston (played by Matt Dillon), who epitomizes the delinquent and anti-establishment attitudes of the greasers. At the local drive-in, Johnny and Ponyboy accidentally hook up with Cherry (played by Diane Lane) and Marcia (played by Michelle Meyrink), two young soc girls who have left their dates because they have been drinking and are being abusive. Dallas tries to move in on the girls, but they tell him to get lost, and end up leaving the drive-in with Ponyboy and Johnny who they recognize from school.

This brief liaison results in trouble later for the two boys, when a car full of socs track them down later in a park for "messing with their women." Outnumbered and overpowered by the socs, Ponyboy is grabbed, beaten, and dunked in a wading pond by them while Johnny is knocked down to the ground. But Johnny has a switchblade and stabs one of the socs which causes them to run away. When Ponyboy and Johnny recover from the struggle, they realize that the guy Johnny stabbed is dead, and that the authorities are going to be coming after them. Figuring that their only choice is to run away, they contact Dallas at a honky-tonk joint in town, and he tells them about an abandoned church in the next town where they can hide, and gives them some money.

The boys are successful in finding the hideout, and prepare for a long stay. During this time, they change their appearance, spend time reading Gone With the Wind, and for the first time really reflect on their lives and things like the simple beauty of a sunrise. Dallas comes to check on them after a week, and they tell him that they no longer want to hide out, but instead go back and face the authorities. On the way back, they drive by an orphanage which is on fire and discover that a number of kids are trapped inside. Although Dallas warns them to stay away, Ponyboy jumps out of the car and runs to save the kids. Soon all three of them are behaving like heroes, saving many lives, until overcome by the smoke and falling debris. The remainder of the film shows how the boys come to grip with their futile situations, face down the "socs" in the inevitable rumble, and deal with the tragedies that life as a "greaser" entails.

The Outsiders is interesting as a film for the casting alone, as the "greaser" cast reads like a who's who of future film mega-stars appearing in their first screen roles. In addition to Dillon, Howell, and Macchio, you see Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe as Ponyboy's older brothers, and Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise as two of their buddies. The film has a dark visual look, as Francis Ford Coppola tries to make a West Side Story out of the material, but the story has neither the romantic angle or musical score required to do this.

Matt Dillon gives a very believable performance as the rebel Dallas Winston, and C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio deliver a wide variety of emotions in their first major roles. It's too bad that the other stars of the future have almost cameo role appearances, so you hardly get to understand or appreciate their characterizations, although Emilio Estevez does deliver some funny lines as the wise-cracking Two-Bit Mathews.

The Feature: 3/5

Presented in its original AR of 2.35:1 (enhanced for widescreen, of course), this brand new transfer looks mighty impressive. It’s been a long time since I've seen the film (and I don't have the previous version to compare it to) so I'm not overly familiar with the integration of the new footage. However, everything looked almost seamless making it almost difficult to tell where the additional footage has been added.

Let's get the only negative spot out of the way (and the rest is clear sailing). The film's contrast looks satisfactory and overall, on the darker side of things - no doubt due to the manner in which it was shot (includes plenty of night and indoor shots). However, artifacting is noticeable - albeit slightly - and the image can look slightly muddy or murky during the darker moments. The rest of the film looks quite good. Colors are vibrant with a nice level of saturation and hue. The image is mostly free of any film grain (save for what appears to be the newly added footage which is extremely slight) and the overall dimensionality and texture of the film is also rather pleasing.

The amount of image definition is also quite strong, not only on close-ups but on longer and wider shots as well. The print appeared to be clean and mostly free of any scratches or blemishes. Light instability was never an issue as the image appeared to be rock solid. Edge enhancement does not factor into the new transfer either.

Overall, a very nice job.


Audio from films of the 80's can be interesting as you're never quite sure what to expect. In this case, the film is re-mixed with a new DD 5.1 soundtrack and to be honest, I was rather impressed with it. The track is slightly forward (at least perhaps, more than I was expecting), and more importantly, done tactfully and right. Dialogue was always very clear and intelligible even during the music that frequently accompanied the film. Speaking of which, rather than the popular "greaser" music of the period, the film was scored by Carmine Coppola with an interesting choice of music including Stevie Wonder's "Stay Gold". Mr. Coppola offers and explanation for this choice of music during the commentary track.

The track sounds extremely clean and free of any hiss of other noisy distractions. The result is a natural sounding track that doesn't appear to have been compressed or affected in terms of its fidelity in any way. The vast majority of the track comes from the front end as the surrounds are only deployed occasionally and infrequently. Not much to speak of in terms of dynamics, however, there is more robustness here than you might expect. Virtually nothing to report in the LFE department.

A solid job.

Audio: 3.5/5

Special Features:
As is typical with most of Warner's Special Editions, they are usually loaded with supplemental material. This one is no exception. The package is spread over two discs and looks like this:

Disc One:
[*] First up are a pair of Audio Commentaries. The first features director Francis Ford Coppola which also contains a 2-3 minute introduction as he explains why he re-introduces the excised footage. As you might imagine, he offers scads of information relating to the characters and details about the production. The second track comes with an introduction from actors Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Matt Dillon. Obviously the first commentary is much more serious and informative, while the actors seem to have more fun during their participation on the second track.

Disc Two:
[*] Staying Gold: A Look Back At The Outsiders is a new and comprehensive feature that contains various reflections by the director and a number of the film's stars as they talk about their experiences with the production, as well as information relating to the new special edition. Duration: 26:23 minutes.
[*] S.E. Hinton On Location In Tulsa is a road trip as the author takes us on a tour of some of the actual shooting locations in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma for the book and the movie. Also discussed are the sales and popularity of the book embraced by younger readers to this day. Duration: 7:33 minutes.
[*] The Casting of the Outsiders is sure to be a fan favorite as a number of their favorite stars are shown performing screen tests and auditions for their roles which include various comments from cast members reflecting on their experiences. During the end credits, they note that another film cast by Fred Roos, Petulia is "coming soon to DVD" - interesting. Duration: 13:55 minutes.
[*] Next up is Readings which is an odd inclusion and includes options to select 7 various cast members who read excerpts from the book at various points.
[*] NBC News Today Segment: The Outsiders Started by School Petition is a segment which features young school children from school asking Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell various questions relating to the film etc. Duration: 4:43 minutes.
[*] Next up are 6 deleted Additional Scenes which range in quality. Not sure if they add anything (or would have), but interesting to see, none the less.
[*] The Original Theatrical Trailer is also included which shows in nice condition. Duration: 1:09 minutes.
[*] And finally, DVD Credits for those who worked on the disc are listed.

Special Features: 4.5/5

**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

Final Thoughts:
West Side Story, without the music. West Side Story, it's not. Instead, it's got about 10 times the star power. The Outsiders is a familiar story of the haves vs. the have-nots, with "greasers" pitted against the "socs". Adored by millions of kids who grew up in the '80s and saw themselves victims of injustice, the film has lost much of its edge today, looking now like an even more dated version of Rebel Without a Cause as societal changes of the last decade or two seem to have tamed this once gritty drama.

I have to admit, when I sit back I'm left scratching my head as to the selection of this title as a Special Edition, especially considering how many far better films that haven't seen even a single release, much less a re-release. A quick glimpse of the cover however, brings everything into focus. While I can't offer a direct comparison from the previous version, I can heartily recommend this version in terms of the A/V presentation and no doubt the additional footage will appeal to fans of the film as well. The supplemental information is certainly enough to keep any fan of this teen favorite, busy for some time.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)

Release Date: September 20th, 2005
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 45 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx


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Posted September 13 2005 - 05:58 PM

cheers for the review. always loved this
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#3 of 45 OFFLINE   Sean*O


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Posted September 13 2005 - 10:31 PM

Posted Image

#4 of 45 OFFLINE   Martin Jeeves

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Posted September 14 2005 - 12:42 AM

Cheers for the great review!

What a cast! What a film! A classic in my opinion.

The film also stars Lief Garrett (remember him!) and in addition to the stars in The Greasers there is the beautiful DIANE LANE in the Soc's.

Posted Image

#5 of 45 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted September 14 2005 - 06:30 AM

Great writeup, Herb!
This is one of those good-but-not-great films that, nevertheless, has become something of a cult classic. A lot of people really, really love it (not least for the reason that you bring up).
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#6 of 45 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted September 14 2005 - 07:05 AM

Cool! Nice review.


#7 of 45 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted September 14 2005 - 07:25 AM

great job with the screenshots.. can you post the main menu screenshots for the outsiders? JACOB

#8 of 45 OFFLINE   Bill Williams

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Posted September 14 2005 - 07:30 AM

Well done, Scott! I had never read "The Outsiders" growing up in the 80's, and it wasn't until I taught school in the 90's that I taught this novel to my students and saw the film for the first time. I was really impressed with it, how faithful it stayed to the original novel, even in its edited theatrical form. And it sounds like Coppola and company have done a great job in bringing us this restored extended cut! No doubt that this will find its way into a lot of English teachers' libraries for discussion in classes. I wish I could have seen this longer cut back then. A must-add indeed! Posted Image Posted Image
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#9 of 45 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted September 14 2005 - 12:40 PM

I have this on pre-order with the Rumble Fish DVD. I'm really looking forward to watching these again. Great review!

#10 of 45 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted September 14 2005 - 12:55 PM

Posted Image

i'm concerned with that image.
lots of "blocks" and some stuff floating around the bush and the cross on top of the church.

is this just due to the screen shot or actual image from the dvd?

#11 of 45 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted September 14 2005 - 01:41 PM

Hey Herb,

Since I'm just around the corner in Dundas, how about I come by and you lend me the DVD to see if I agree with your reviewPosted Image Thanks for the review, looking forward too it coming out. Movie is a classic.Posted Image Posted Image

#12 of 45 OFFLINE   Martin Jeeves

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Posted September 14 2005 - 08:51 PM

I watched my copy last night. The image is amazing. This film looks brand new and has certainly never looked as good as this. The above image is NOT a representation of how the actual DVD looks. On my equipment and to my eyes... it looks exceptionally great. Posted Image

#13 of 45 OFFLINE   Martin Jeeves

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Posted September 15 2005 - 03:13 AM

How much would it cost to cast this film now? Let's see... TOM CRUISE - $20 MIL DIANE LANE - $6 MIL MATT DILLON - gotta be $3 MIL at least PATRICK SWAYZE ROB LOWE EMILIO ESTEVEZ RALPH MACCHIO C.THOMAS HOWELL LIEF GARRETT

#14 of 45 OFFLINE   TravisR


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Posted September 15 2005 - 03:26 AM

Pay the fare for his cab and he'll probably come to your house for free. Posted Image

#15 of 45 OFFLINE   Darren Gross

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Posted September 15 2005 - 11:11 AM

You might want to redo the framegrabs...They look way overcompressed, low res and bitmappy...I'm sure they look much much better on the disc...

If the actual DVD looked like this, Coppola would sue!Posted Image

#16 of 45 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted September 15 2005 - 06:45 PM

They're compressed so that people with dial-up don't have to wait all day for the page to load. These caps are nothing more than window dressing and no one should be reluctant to purchase a disc based on these.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#17 of 45 OFFLINE   Mike_Richardson


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Posted September 16 2005 - 02:59 AM

Is it true that Carmine Coppola's original score has been dropped altogether from this version? One of the reviews I read (I believe over at DVD Talk) noted that Coppola's score had been replaced with often overbearing period tunes. If that's true I'll be holding onto my original DVD. I can't believe they didn't offer the original score as an alternative!

#18 of 45 OFFLINE   Martin Jeeves

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Posted September 16 2005 - 03:03 AM

No. Not ALL of it has been dropped or replaced. Just some of it. I like the new soundtrack BUT I can see purists having an issue with it. Personally I prefer this cut of the film and this soundtrack (and so does Coppola evidently).

It's a great set that any fan of the film should not be without. Posted Image

#19 of 45 OFFLINE   Jeff D Han

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Posted September 17 2005 - 12:47 AM

Thanks for the review, Herb.Posted Image

It looks like a very good DVD set for a pretty
good film. I think I'll get this one Tuesday
if time permits.
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#20 of 45 OFFLINE   streeter



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Posted September 17 2005 - 02:46 AM

Definitely getting this one. The cast commentary should be a lot of fun. My guess is that Tom, Emilio and Leif are MIA on the docs?
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