Updated: Jun 24
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Patrick Swayze plays Darrel the oldest Curtis brother, as he and other greasers prepare to battle the rich “soches” in a full-scale rumble.
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“THE OUTSIDERS” & “THE OUTSIDERS: THE COMPLETE NOVEL”
4K Ultra HD & Digital copy; 1983 & 2005; PG-13 for violence, teen drinking and smoking, and some sexual reference; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: New featurette, “An Introduction to “The Outsiders” (disc & digital)
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, 82, one of America’s greatest directors and the winner of five Academy and Golden Globe awards, never seems satisfied with his own movies.
Over the years, he’s re-edited no less than three different versions of his Vietnam War epic “Apocalypse Now” (1979). Recently, the filmmaker released a new “Director’s Cut” of his début horror film “Dementia 13” (1963), which now runs six minutes less than the original. In 2020, he shortened and restructured the long dismissed “The Godfather: Part III” (1990) into “The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone,” while also revamping his New York crime drama, “The Cotton Club” (1984), starring Richard Gere and Gregory Hines.
In 2005 he decided to tinker with his condensed 91-minute theatrical version of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age tale “The Outsiders,” and ended up adding 22 minutes. For years Coppola received letters asking to restore cut scenes, but not until his granddaughter Gia asked him to visit her seventh-grade class to screen “The Outsiders,” did he consider reexamining the teen drama. Gia and her classmates had just read the book and were quite knowledgeable of its characters. Certain the students would quiz him on why scenes were missing in the movie, he decided to make a “Special Version just for them,” he said. The students so liked his revision – “The Outsiders: The Complete Novel” – it became Coppola’s preferred version. “It evolved much more into a more faithful version of Hinton’s beautiful book,” he says.
“The Complete Novel” opening scenes
(1) Five Socs jump Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and cut his neck with a switchblade. The scene was one of three opening scenes not available in the original theatrical edit. (2) The greasers include Steve Randle (Tom Cruise), Ponyboy’s brother Sodapop (Rob Lowe), Ponyboy, and Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio). (3) Ponyboy and Sodapop talk after their older brother yelled at Ponyboy. “Hey, listen, kiddo. Darry yells at you like that he don’t mean nothing. It’s just that he got hit with a lot of responsibilities after mom and dad died.”
Some critics and fans weren’t happy with the new edit, while others saluted its expanded storyline, with opening and ending sequences lifted straight from Hinton’s book. Actor Rob Lowe, who played middle Curtis brother, Sodapop, supported the changes. “At its core, it’s a film about brothers,” he said. “It’s good to see that back.”
The original orchestrated score composed by Coppola’s father Carmine (“The Black Stallion”) has been reduced to include more music from the era, including hits by Elvis Presley, Van Morrison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ultimately, he felt his father’s score was “too schmaltzy,” he says. The theme song, “Stay Gold” which his father wrote with Stevie Wonder, remains in both and is still gold.
For Warner Brothers’ 4K presentation, Coppola decided to release both versions onto 4K Ultra HD (on separate discs), which he similarly had done with “Apocalypse Now” and its UHD release in 2019. The theatrical version has been shelved for nearly two decades, and its 4K addition was highly praised by producer/director Josh Boone (“The Fault in Our Stars”), who’s been a fan since childhood. He watched it more than one-hundred times during the ‘80s. “My biggest gripe is the abandonment of his father’s score, which was perfectly pitched [to the film],” Boone says of the new version.
(1) After the opening titles Ponyboy writes. “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house.” (2) Ponyboy and Johnny meet up with Dallas “Dally” Winston (Matt Dillon). (3) A gang of greasers gets into a fight with a guy outside of the 24-hour diner The Pines. (4&5) Johnny gives Soc Cherry Valance (Diane Lane) a hard time at the drive-in theater. Ponyboy, Two-Bit Matthews (Emilio Estevez) and Johnny talk to Cherry and her best friend Marcia (Michelle Meyrink).
During one of the handful of new featurettes, Coppola says he considers the big rumble scene his favorite, even though it was the most difficult to film. He added rain to help hide his young actors doing their own stunts. “Someone was bound to really land a punch on someone and break a jaw or lose a tooth. And I was terrified of that because I really cared for all of those boys,” he says.
The excellent cast included C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy Curtis), Patrick Swayze (Darrel Curtis), Matt Dillon (Dallas Winston), Ralph Macchio (Johnny Cade), Tom Cruise (Steve Randle), Emilio Estevez (Two-Bit Matthews), Diane Lane (Cherry Valance) and Leif Garrett (Bob Sheldon). "The actors were “athletically proficient to be able to look like they were fighting … in a way that looked really brutal,” he says. He praises Diane Lane, who at that time was a seasoned 16-year-old actor, and “a gracious young person.” He also pinpoints his daughter Sofia (“Lost in Translation”), who played a young panhandler outside a Dairy Queen, explaining she wanted to be credited as Domino Coppola.
Coppola also retells how junior high students at Lone Star School in Fresno, California, were responsible for his adaptation of Hinton’s book in the first place. They and school librarian aide Jo Ellen Misakian, had petitioned him to direct “The Outsiders” with a letter and the signatures of 30 students. He laughs at how they misspelled his name “C-O-P-O-L-L-A.” “But, I forgive her,” he says. He reads from the letter: “We are so impressed with the book “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton that a petition has been circulating asking that it be made into a movie. We have chosen you to send it to. It’s our hope that you will see the possibility of the movie.”
(1) Ponyboy and Johnny watch the stars and talk at their neighborhood hangout called “The Lot.” (2) Ponyboy arrives at his house after 2 a.m. and Darrel starts yelling and pushes him onto the floor. (3-5) Later, Ponyboy and Johnny are attacked by Socs Bob Sheldon (Leif Garrett), Randy Anderson (Darren Dalton) and two others. They’ve been drinking all night and start dunking Ponyboy in the fountain. Johnny pulls out his switchblade and stabs Bob, and kills him.
Additional new extras: “Old House, New Home” highlights the transformation of the Curtis house into a museum for “The Outsiders.” “Outsider Looking In” lets Coppola explore his favorite scenes. Cinematographer “Stephen H. Burum on The Outsiders” recalls his 50-year relationship with Coppola, and the personal shorthand they developed to communicate with each other.
Carry-over extras from previous editions are included in the 26-minute “Staying Gold: A Look Back” captured in the early 2000s. It provides behind-scenes footage, interviews with the cast, and a conversation between Coppola and the author, who admittedly was nervous to meet him. Additional bonus features have cast members reading extracts from the book; the author on location in Tulsa; Casting The Outsiders, and two commentary tracks on the Complete Novel Edit.
Coppola and his in-house film archivist and restoration supervisor James Mockoski have worked together on 4K/HDR restoration projects for all of his work. “The 4K is far more beautiful than the original because of the benefits of the resolution,” Coppola says. He continues to praise cinematographer Stephen H. Burum (“Rumble Fish,” “The Untouchables”), a fellow UCLA film school student. “He is the one responsible for this beautiful photography, which is more enhanced by what we did with the new technology.”
The added resolution over the previous Blu-ray makes a nearly night-to-day difference in clarity. With the expanded HDR10 and Dolby Vision (digital only), contrast levels and colors look great. Shadows are more open, with deeper blacks, and without the crush that plagued the HD. Sourced from the original 35mm camera negative, natural film grain dances across the screen in both 4K versions (2.39:1 aspect ratio), while colors are richer and truer in nighttime scenes and in the setting sun backdrop at the country church.
“Francis likes to revisit his films. He’s one of the few directors that owns his own films, and with that, he’s afforded the ability to go back and tinker, to experiment with the storytelling. My job is to retain the look, the feel, the texture that made the film special in its original release is still there each time.” — James Mockoski, American Zoetrope film archivist, and restoration supervisor
Both editions include a six-channel DTS-HD soundtrack. It’s nicely balanced between the heavy dialogue, original music cues, and early rock ‘n’ roll tunes showcasing “Gloria” from Van Morrison, “Real Wild Child” from Jerry Lee Lewis, and “Blue Moon,” “Mystery Train,” “We’re Gonna Move,” “Milky White Way,” and “When It Rains it Really Pours” from Elvis Presley.
Getting any Coppola film on 4K is considered a treasure with “Apocalypse Now” leading the pack; “The Outsiders” a close second, and “Dracula” (1992) a distant third. Possible Coppola 4K titles for 2022: “The Godfather: Trilogy,” “Tucker: The Man and his Dream” (1988), and “Peggy Sue Gets Married” (1986).
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
(1&2) Ponyboy and Johnny take a freight train and head toward an abandoned church on Jay Mountain. (3) Ponyboy uses hydrogen peroxide to bleach his hair, to help change his identity. (4&5) The boys watch a beautiful sunrise. “One morning, I woke up earlier than usual. The church was colder than ever.”
(1&2) The abandoned church catches fire and Ponyboy and Johnny enter the building and rescue several trapped children. At the hospital, Darrel and Sodapop hug Ponyboy. (3) Ponyboy and Two-Bit walk or take the bus, while the Socs ride around town in their Ford Mustang. (4) Ponyboy visits Johnny who was hospitalized with severe burns and a broken back, from the church roof collapsing as they saved the children.