Francis Ford Coppola Says He Lost ‘Everything’ Before Making Classic ‘The Outsiders’

by Chase Thomas
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Francis Ford Coppola is known for the incredibly popular Godfather films, but one of the more perhaps underrated films of the legendary director over the years is The Outsiders. Another legendary movie based on an even better book.

What you may not know is that Coppola owes a lot to that latter movie. According to the director, prior to that movie, he was out of money. He was broke. However, after talking to an elementary school class, as h tells it, he was inspired to make the movie that rejuvenated his career.

It was all because of the kids. Coppola said, “These children had voted that I should take their favorite book and make it into a film.”

It was just like that and then one of the more iconic films with an absolutely loaded cast was born.

Coppola continued, “[The] fact that these kids had voted for me to do their film meant for sure I was going to [at least] read the book. … And I read it, and I was very touched by the book because it showed how young people really have such strong feelings. I was very moved by it.”

How cool is that, Outsiders? Isn’t it funny how life works sometimes? You are hard on your luck for a bit, but then, out of nowhere, you get inspired in the oddest of places and then you make one of the more iconic films of our time.

We all still read The Outsiders in school, don’t we? Coppola keeps getting letters about them as he said, “I still get letters about ‘The Outsiders’ because it’s required reading in a lot of schools.”

The Impact of ‘The Outsiders’

He concludes, “People tell me it’s their comfort film, or they have a Stay Gold tattoo, or they used the Robert Frost poem for their wedding vows. I get asked all the time what the poem means. I had no idea when I was 15 that it represents the circle of life. Even the two boys don’t understand what it means — they’re just sharing a moment — until one of them dies. The fans are crying and upset that [Ralph Macchio’s character] Johnny is dead, and then they contact me and they realize Ponyboy is now 54 — and they cry even harder.”

Isn’t that something? That the film is a “comfort” film to some? You never know how these things will go as a director, but The Outsiders was a hit. Partly because so many folks grew up loving the book. This is pretty wild to see things like bits from the movie being turned into wedding vows, though. The fans care about these characters and their stories. Especially Ponyboy, who is a lot older now than he was then. Either way, The Outsiders was a legendary film and it still resonates today. People love it.

Outsider.com