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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • None
  • Theatrical trailer

The Outsiders

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . M15+ . PAL


Released in 1983, this early film from director Francis Ford Coppola is a virtual who’s who of young Hollywood talent who went on to become household names. The likes of Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and C. Thomas Howell appear in this classic version of the novel by S E Hinton. Although Howell had appeared in E.T., Estevez in Tex and Cruise in Taps and Endless Love, the remainder of the main cast were making their big screen debuts. Swayze had an uncredited role as a dancer in Staying Alive but this film would be the big break for him along with the majority of the cast. There are some other noticeable cast members in this film, ‘70s popstar Leif Garrett plays a major role as does Diane Lane, who has gone on to make many big budget films including The Perfect Storm and Unfaithful. There is also an appearance from musician Tom Waits in one of his many acting roles.

The Outsiders is the story of youth from the two sides of town, either side of the tracks so to speak. The “Greasers” are from the poorer side of town while the “Soc’s” are from the rich side. This was quite a common scenario in small-town America during the ‘50s (when this film is set), the gang rivalry that is based on upbringing or financial status in the community. This story focuses on the “Greasers” and their friendships with each other. Ponyboy Curtis (Howell) lives with his two brothers Darrel (Swayze) and Sodapop (Lowe). Their parents were killed and now the oldest brother Darrel has taken on the responsibility of parent.

One night Ponyboy is out with friends Dallas (Dillon) and Johnny (Macchio) at the drive-in when they meet up with a couple of girls, Cherry Valance (Lane) and her friend. Cherry takes a liking to Ponyboy and although he is a Greaser and she is a Soc their backgrounds seem incidental. She is a cheerleader and has just had a fight with her boyfriend, but the Greasers are unaware. While leaving the drive-in with the girls the three Greasers are confronted by the Soc’s and Cherry and her friend agree to leave with them to avoid the pending fight. Later that night the Soc’s arrive in Greaser territory looking for trouble. One of the Soc’s ends up dead and the two Greasers responsible must leave town to avoid jail. It is decided between the Greasers' and the Soc’s that there should be one final rumble to sort out the matter once and for all.

Once you get past the distraction of star spotting, this is a terrific film. The acting by lead actors Howell, Macchio and Dillon is superb and it is easy to see why they went on to achieve the stardom they did. Other cast members are also impressive, Swayze and Estevez in particular, but I must admit I found Cruise to be quite annoying in his role and I dare say a bit of an over-actor. Having been around in the ‘70s when Leif Garrett was big on the pop charts, it was refreshing to see him in an acting role proving he did have talent in at least one of the arts...

It is hard to class this as one of Coppola’s best films as his resume is very impressive, but given the time it was made and the cast of virtual unknowns that he assembled, there is no doubt that this film boosted his reputation. Although dated, this film oozes quality and is still as enjoyable today as it ever was.


Although this anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 transfer is not too spectacular, suffering in many areas, it is still a lot better than expected for a film of this age. There are a few problems with grain and a loss of detail, there are also quite a few film artefacts, but compared to other films from this era released on DVD this looks quite good. Sharpness suffers in some areas also and there are some slight problems with pixelisation. Edge enhancement is also evident. Colours are generally true and blacks are reasonably strong. There are no subtitles supplied with this release, but these are not really required as dialogue is quite clear throughout.


Audio is supplied in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround and is reasonable. The first noticeable aspect is that the sound is quite low, even flat. This is easily rectified by increasing the volume, but be warned - don't forget to turn it back down when you stop the disc. Dialogue is generally clear throughout and the areas where it is a problem can usually be blamed on accents rather than audio. Surround use is minimal, with the rears getting little action and the subwoofer is inactive for the most part.

Music is credited to Carmine Coppola and Stevie Wonder, but it's not too memorable. There are a few recognisable songs such as Gloria and Love is a Battlefield, but I doubt you will go away feeling the need to purchase this soundtrack. Audio synch is generally OK, but does drift out on the odd occasion.


Only one extra accompanies this release in the form of a theatrical trailer. In an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16:9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this trailer gives a good idea of how worse the video transfer could have been for the main feature.


Overall this is a great film that's well worth seeing. The cast is impressive, as is the direction from Coppola. The video and audio are not wonderful, but are decent enough to make this an enjoyable viewing experience. So if you have never seen it, make the effort - and if you have seen it then take another look, it is just as enjoyable the second time around.

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      And I quote...
    "It’s a case of star spotting in this Francis Ford Coppola classic."
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS305
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SAVE815ED
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