Francis Ford Coppola ‘had lost everything’ and faced bankruptcy before teenagers urged him to make ‘The Outsiders’

Francis Ford Coppola had already directed the indisputable classics The Godfather (1972), The conversation (1974), The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Apocalypse now (1979). But the disastrous release of a single film, 1982’s genre-bending romance One from the heart, almost broke him.

“I was very depressed at the time [after One From the Heart], which was a heartache for me and involved some stupidity on my part, ”the 82-year-old Queens-raised film-making titan tells us during a rare interview promoting the new 4K Ultra HD release of his 1983 upcoming adult favorite. The outsiders (see above). “And I was very desperate about the terrible reaction.”

With Frederic Forest and Teri Garr in the lead roles as a couple whose relationship hits the rocks during an anniversary trip to Las Vegas, One from the heart is Coppola’s biggest flop in the long run, earning only $ 600,000 against a budget of $ 26 million. The filmmaker says he pulled the film out of its limited cinema showing after just one week, in the expectation that it would later have a wider release – without realizing that such a move would refer it directly to home video.

The American director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola on the set of his film One from the Heart.  (Photo by Nancy Moran / Sygma via Getty Images)

The American director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola on the set of his film One from the heart. (Photo: Nancy Moran / Sygma via Getty Images)

“So it was stupid of me to do that, but nonetheless, I was depressed and I had lost everything and I was facing bankruptcy,” he explains.

That was when a large envelope arrived in the mail to him from the library class at Lone Star Elementary School in Fresno, California.

“These kids had voted for me to take their favorite book and make it into a movie,” Coppola recalls of the package, which came with about 10-15 pages of signatures from seventh and eighth graders, courtesy of their librarian Jo Ellen Misakian. “And the fact that these kids had voted for me to make their movies definitely meant I wanted to do it [at least] read the book … And I read it, and I was very moved by the book because it showed how young people really have such strong emotions. I was very moved by that. “

That book was SE Hinton’s 1967 gang drama The outsiders, which fittingly was that the native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, had started writing when she was only 15.

American actors Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Thomas C. Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Patrick Swayze on the set of The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  (Photo of Sunset Boulevard / Corbis via Getty Images)

Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Patrick Swayze on the set of The outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. (Photo: Sunset Boulevard / Corbis via Getty Images)

The rest is history. Coppola started rolling cameras on The outsiders, the film, in Tulsa in March 1982. The beloved film that traces the exploits of the working class “greasers” and their richer rivals “The Socs”, helped to introduce some of the most popular young actors from the 80s, i.a. C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise. (The film was actually Cruises’ last non-starring role in 16 years, until his Oscar-nominated supporting role in 1999’s Magnolia.)

It was a significant setback for Coppola, and received strong reviews (with Gene Siskel comparing it to Rebellion without cause and American graffiti) and a draw of $ 33 million (on a budget of $ 10 million).

The film’s legacy has only grown over the years, and children continue to play a key role in it.

C. Thomas Howell, Francis Coppola and Rob Lowe on the set of

C. Thomas Howell, Francis Ford Coppola and Rob Lowe on the set of The outsiders. (Photo: Nancy Moran / Sygma via Getty Images)

After meeting young readers in his grandson’s classroom who wondered why certain scenes from Hinton’s source material were not included in his adaptation, Coppola released his director’s clip, Baptized, The complete novel, in 2005.

This is the version the filmmaker recreates with the new hi-def 4K release.

“Again, I listened to the advice and opinion of the young people,” says Coppola. “Which is what we should be doing in the world today, in my opinion.”

The Outsiders: The Complete Novel is now available on 4K Ultra HD.

– Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo

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