Sunday, 4 October 2009

Stay Gold.

It's a sentence that holds much importance to my all time favorite movie....The Outsiders by S E Hinton. Many think that Breakfast at Tiffany's is my favorite film, and I might be a little guilty of misleading people sometimes, but in all honesty - since I was a small child and found a hardback book of The Outsiders in my local library I have been totally hooked. It was on television once in my memory and my video taped copy of it has long since been worn out. A few years ago my older brother bought me the re-issued double disc DVD. If it hadn't already have been Christmas it sure would've felt like it.

I don't know how well known this book and film is in the UK, it seems to have been a big hit in the US, so much so that the re-issue appears to have only been available in region 1....I of course could be wrong and it could be that my impatience got the better of me and that is why I have a Region 1 edition.

The book was like my little bible - I read and re-read it and day dreamed and then I got the film and it came to life even more. I have never yet tried to put into words the effect this film had on me, for I still don't really know. It blew my mind. It got me thinking about social standing, politics, parental roles, violence.....brotherhood and companionship, all from a very young age. When I watch it, I get transported back to that feeling I got when I first found The Outsiders, it was like my little secret, how did others not know about it - shifty look over the shoulder then I would dive back into the pages.

Quite a few years ago the library sold off a lot of its old books and a friend bought me the very edition I had repeatedly loaned from the library - it was sold for some ridiculous price of 50 pence or something like that but to me, it was priceless.

So, for those of you that don't know, The Outsiders was written by an author called S E Hinton, Susan. She is American and was only 16 when she wrote the book, and it was published back in 1967, it still holds strong and relevant to this very day.
It's about the Greasers and the Socs, two opposite ends of the social spectrum. The Socs are the rich kids and the Greasers are the poor kids from the wrong side of town. There are regular skuffles and fallings out between the two groups. The main family is Sodapop, Pony Boy and Daryl, know as Darry. Darry is the eldest bringing up his two brothers after their parents were killed. There is Johnny the little kid, smaller kid who is beaten up at home and then again out on the streets by a Soc who is wearing rings and scars his face. There is Two Bit that looks out for the young boys, Johnny and Pony Boy and then there is Dally (Dallas) the bad boy loner who is only out for himself, so that he won't get hurt.

One night Johnny and Pony Boy are out talking and Johnny won't go home because he can't face his alcoholic abusive parents anymore. They fall asleep in the park and when Pony Boy gets home is older brother Darry goes mad at him and hits him, to the back drop of his apologies Pony Boy runs back to Johnny in the park - both fuelled with anger (and a desperate need for a hug) and they run into some Socs. The scene gets ugly and Johnny ends up knifing one of the Socs as he sees they are trying to drown Pony Boy (this is also the Soc with 'the rings' that marked his face for life only days ago). The Soc ends up dead. In a panic Johnny and Pony Boy run to Dally's asking him to fix things for them. He gives them some money and tells them of a place out in the country where they can hide out in a disused church until things blow over. Johnny and Pony Boy run off to the church, cut there hair (a big thing for a greaser) and lay low until Dally shows up a few days later. He takes them out for dinner and on the way back to the church they hear voices and see smoke, the church is on fire and there are children inside. Johnny and Pony Boy run in to rescue the trapped children with Dally joining in. Johnny gets stuck in the church and Dally has to go back into the now almost totally ablaze church. All end up in hospital with the town folk calling them heroes (not realising they have a murder charge on their shoulders). The whole series of events seem to make a few of the Greasers and Socs think about the ridiculousness of the situation. One of the Socs who had seen a nice side to the Greasers said she would defend them in court, to say it was provoked. A Rumble is still planned for that night.
Whilst Johnny is left in hospital in a critical condition - the Socs and Greasers fight it out in the park. The Greasers win. But it is a small victory. Dally and Pony Boy go to the hospital to let Johnny know they won but he doesn't look well. He mumbles to Pony Boy to stay gold and he dies. Dally cannot handle this and runs off into the night to cause trouble. He is going to blow and that he surely does. He holds a gun to the head of a store keeper and pretends to shoot even though the gun isn't loaded. The store keeper shoots at him and Dally runs off - with blood seeping out of the gunshot wound. He manages to call Pony Boys house to say that the cops are after him. Two police cars chase him and he gets to the park and pulls out his gun. The rest of the Greasers come running after him screaming at the police that he's just a kid and the gun isn't loaded, but, too late, the gunshots ring out and Dally hits the floor - riddled with bullet holes and dead.

It's a moment where you feel your eyes well up and you feel like it's someone that you know that has just been shot. You can see that the Greasers are not bad kids and throughout the film you almost build up a brotherhood with them.

The effect of the film is quite overwhelming and leaves you silent as the credits roll. With the big memory 'To stay gold' as in the greeness you have as a child. It's one thing I have always loved about children - their lack of censorship with the things they say and their wonderful innocence and marvel at the world and the simplest things - how everything is new. 'Stay Gold'....not a bad moto to live by.



    It was one of the first books I really got into when I was super young. I remember being so emotionally involved w/ The Outsiders. Actually, writing about it makes me go back and "feel" it all over!

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Stay Gold,

  2. I am happy to have done a service. It seriously is one of those films/books that no matter what age it 'gets' you every time. I still well up when Dally's character gets killed.

    Stay Gold ☺

  3. Nature's first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf's a flower,
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf,
    And Eden sank to grief.
    So dawn goes down to day,
    Nothing gold can stay.
    ~Robert Frost

    I love the book and the movie! Amazing that a sixteen-year-old wrote it!

  4. Mary! Thank you for putting that down in print in full - it's so lovely! It doesn't matter how old I get I always find myself going back to this film - and it is totally mind blowing how she wrote something so great so young....glad to bring back happy memories ☺