The Outsiders (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)
Review by: Matt Brighton
Posted on: November 10th, 2021
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Plot: What’s it about?

When looking back at The Outsiders, there are a few things of note: How good the film was and how amazing the casting was. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say that this movie had the best cast of the 80’s. That’s saying a lot as a lot of stars came to fruition in the Reagan-era but any cast that includes Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane and Matt Dillon…that’s pretty impressive. Granted, most of those stars found their fame just a few short years after this movie was released (notably C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Emilio Estevez) but, obviously, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon and Diane Lane have managed to hold onto their careers. One can’t really mention this movie without talking about its esteemed director, Francis Ford Coppola. Although Mr. Coppola seems to be a little more focused on his wine these days, I’d put The Outsiders in his pantheon of best films to see.

Much like Rebel without a Cause, The Outsiders focused on the teens and the adults weren’t only ignored, but hardly even shown. The movie is morality play in the timeless battle between the classes. On one hand you have the “Socs” (pronounced “sew-ches”) that traditionally come from wealthier backgrounds. They drive nice cars, wear nice clothes and are generally going to go on to better things. On the other you have the greasers. This is the focus of the story as told from their point of view. The greasers are just that – they have grease in their hair, they don’t have cars and they wear torn and tattered clothes. There’s a natural rivalry between the two clashing groups and as an audience member, we’re meant to side with the greasers. The “Socs” are portrayed as rich, arrogant snobs who treat their girlfriends like objects and drive around drunk all of the time. The greasers are really no different, but we see the motivation for what they do whereas we just the actions of the “Socs”.

The cast of characters reads like a who’s who in Hollywood (albeit 20 years ago). And the central story revolves around Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and his two brothers, Darry (Patrick Swayze) and Sodapop (Rob Lowe). The three have formed a tight bond ever since their parents were killed in a car crash. Darry has been given custody and though not the father figure that we’d dream of, he does manage to keep his brothers fed and, for the most part, out of trouble. The rest of the cast revolves around these three. Johnny (Ralph Macchio) is Ponyboy’s best friend and the two form a bond after getting in a deathly fight with the “Socs”. This leaves Two-Bit (Emilio Estevez), Steve (Tom Cruise) and Dallas (Matt Dillon), the latter of which has just been released from jail. Two-Bit and Steve don’t really have much of a role in the movie, they’re just other greasers that make up the gang. The story moves on a little more when we meet Cherry (Diane Lane), technically one of the “Socs” but with enough foresight to see beyond the gruff exterior of the greasers.

The film is based on the 1967 novel by S.E. Hinton who also penned it when she was only 16 years old. Also of note, she wrote Rumble Fish and Tex (along with a few others) and was actually petitioned to be brought to the screen some twenty five years ago. Coppola also directed Rumble Fish, a film which dealt with similar issues but is far more visually entertaining. Like it or not, The Outsiders was quite the movie in its day. Like Rebel without a Cause before it, the teen angst and the troubles of growing up alone and poor are all shown here. Ultimately, there’s little redemption in their world, brought up by the lead “Soc” Bob (Leif Garrett) when he reveals that after the big brawl, there really will be no winner. “Things will be just the same as they were and we’ll still be ‘Socs’ and you’ll still be greasers”. Food for thought, and proof that growing up is never easy.

Video: How does it look?

There’s an interesting featurette that shows how the movie was restored. I love these. There’s also a legacy feature that shows how and what they did to the 2005 version of this film. Ignore that, it’s in the past and no longer relevant. At any rate, with the technology now available we’ve got the best-looking version of this film to date. One thing I’ve noticed with 4K films of older movies is that they appear a lot more naturalistic (see screenshot below). Some of the hues that we’ve been so accustomed to seeing have been replaced with what we’re used to seeing in everyday life.  Colors appear more natural. The 1.85:1 4K HEVC image now seems to flow more freely, detail has been improved and HDR certainly helps matters. I could go on, but suffice it to say that this looks stunning.

Audio: How does it sound?

I’ve not seen a lot of Francis Ford Coppola’s movies and was quite surprised when I sat down and heard the re-mixed soundtrack on this movie. The disc comes equipped with a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, but I found Coppola’s use of music to be energetic and really add a lot of emotion to the movie. For example, I was nearly in tears before the opening credits ended with Stevie Wonder’s “Stay Gold” playing in the background. Coppola’s use of surf music sounds like a combination between Pulp Fiction and those old Frankie Avalon beach movies (and if you look closely, they’re playing in the background of the drive-in scene). I was fairly impressed by the audio and though it won’t blow the roof off the house, it’s solid and does deliver.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This two disc set contains a wealth of extras, many of which were produced for this set. Though some of the features differ from disc to disc, several appear on both discs.

Disc One (4K – Theatrical Cut)

  • Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Outsiders – This very comprehensive documentary covers all of the bases. It contains new interviews with cast and crew and is far better made than most of those “Behind the Scenes…” features that we’re all very sick of. We also get to see who some of the folks who tried out for the movie that didn’t these now iconic parts.
  • Outsider Looking In – In another new segment, Coppola tells of the rumble scene and in which he took a few liberties with costume design and even adding rain to make the fight seem more realistic, though not taking away from the action and intensity of the moment.
  • Old House New Home – We get a pretty sordid history of the “house” purchased by “Danny Boy O’Connor” who purchased the original house used in the film for…wait for it…$42,000. He’s turned the house into a museum and was fearful that it might be turned into a “Habitat for Humanity” home. Thankfully this piece of movie lore has been preserved by Danny Boy.
  • On Location in Tulsa with S.E. Hinton – This one is pretty self-explanatory, it’s from the 2005 version (there’s a new segment featuring her as well) as she travels around Tulsa pointing out different locales used in her book and, later, the film.
  • Screen Tests and Auditions: Fred Roos and the Casting of The Outsiders – What I found most interesting was the casting tapes. Fred Roos was the casting director for the movie, and we’re treated to footage that’s over twenty years old with some very familiar faces reading for parts. Adam Baldwin, Anthony Michael Hall, Helen Slater and Kate Capshaw
  • Cast Readings – Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Leif Garrett and Diane Lane literally read excerpts from the novel.
  • Deleted Scenes – Seven total.
    • Pony Gets Jumped and Dallas Gets Released
    • Pony, Johnny and Dallas at the Diner
    • Pony, Johnny and Dallas the Rexal Store
    • We’re Disguised (1983 Version)
    • Fugitives in the Church
    • The Curtis Brothers Reunited
    • Pony and Dallas Visit Johnny’s Deathbed
    • Pony Calls his Teacher (Early Cut)
  • Trailers
    • 2005 Re-Release Trailer
    • 2021 Re-Release Trailer

Disc Two (4K – The Complete Novel)

  • An Introduction to The Outsiders: The Complete Novel with Francis Ford Coppola – In this new segment, Francis Ford Coppola explains the etymology of the book, the movie and how it all came to be. If you haven’t seen Coppola in a few years, he looks different. Then again, he is in his mid 80’s, so I suppose we should cut him some slack.
  • Audio Commentary – Director Francis Ford Coppola manages to give a very insightful commentary track. He’s full of pieces of information, motivations of characters and details about the shoot. As I mentioned before, I’ve not seen a lot of Coppola’s work, so this was a welcome addition.
  • Audio Commentary – This one comes with an introduction – actors Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell and Matt Dillon all showed up (Lowe and Dillion did theirs later) for a viewing of the movie and offer up a pretty good commentary track. They seem to have a lot more fun than Coppola did, but the more the merrier. Diehard fans will want to listen to both of these tracks.
  • Restoring The Outsiders – This 19-minute featurette takes a look at, you guessed it, the restoration of the film. We’re greeted with James Mockoski, the Film Archivist and Restoration Supervisor for American Zoetrope as he describes going through Coppola’s entire catalog and wanting to present each film in its absolute best form. We also get some inside information on “The Complete Novel” as well as some of the differences between the 2005 HD version compared with the 2021 4K. If this was the only new supplement on the disc, it’d have been worth it.
  • Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Outsiders – This very comprehensive documentary covers all of the bases. It contains new interviews with cast and crew and is far better made than most of those “Behind the Scenes…” features that we’re all very sick of.
  • Outsider Looking In – In another new segment, Coppola tells of the rumble scene and in which he took a few liberties with costume design and even adding rain to make the fight seem more realistic, though not taking away from the action and intensity of the moment.
  • Stephen H. Burum on The Outsiders – Yet another new segment features Stephen H. Burum as he gives us a brief history of he and Coppola (who both attended film school at UCLA). He also goes onto say that after having worked on Rumble Fish, he contrasts the two in story, but also in style and substance.
  • Old House New Home – We get a pretty sordid history of the “house” purchased by “Danny Boy O’Connor” who purchased the original house used in the film for…wait for it…$42,000. He’s turned the house into a museum and was fearful that it might be turned into a “Habitat for Humanity” home. Thankfully this piece of movie lore has been preserved by Danny Boy.
  • On Location in Tulsa with S.E. Hinton – This one is pretty self-explanatory, it’s from the 2005 version (there’s a new segment featuring her as well) as she travels around Tulsa pointing out different locales used in her book and, later, the film.
  • Screen Tests and Auditions: Fred Roos and The Casting of The Outsiders – What I found most interesting was the casting tapes. Fred Roos was the casting director for the movie, and we’re treated to footage that’s over twenty years old with some very familiar faces reading for parts. Adam Baldwin, Anthony Michael Hall, Helen Slater and Kate Capshaw.
  • Cast Readings – Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Leif Garrett and Diane Lane literally read excerpts from the novel.
  • Deleted Scenes – Seven total.
    • Pony Gets Jumped and Dallas Gets Released
    • Pony, Johnny and Dallas at the Diner
    • Pony, Johnny and Dallas the Rexal Store
    • We’re Disguised (1983 Version)
    • Fugitives in the Church
    • The Curtis Brothers Reunited
    • Pony and Dallas Visit Johnny’s Deathbed
    • Pony Calls his Teacher (Early Cut)
  • Trailers
    • 2005 Re-Release Trailer
    • 2021 Re-Release Trailer

The Bottom Line

When you consider that a class of 12 year old’s convinced one of the most acclaimed directors of all-time to make this film, it boggles the mind. The fact that it worked and contained one of the best casts in years – it continues to baffle. But it happened and it’s been some time ago. Warner has done a bang up job on one of the best coming-of-age films out there. Improved picture, sound and a slew of new featurettes – this is how it should be done.

The Outsiders (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)
MOVIE INFO.
YEAR RELEASED
1983
RATING
PG-13
DIRECTOR
Francis Ford Coppola
STUDIO
Warner (Archive)
RUNNING TIME
92 / 115 (Complete Novel) min.


Fresh 67%
TECH SPECS
  • 4K
  • (1.85:1)
  • Video Codec: HEVC (H.265)
  • Audio: DTS HD Master
  • 2 Disc Set
  • DISC FEATURES
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy

DISC SCORES

VIDEO
AUDIO
SUPPLEMENTS
OVERALL