S. E. Hinton, who has maintained her quiet dignity since The Outsiders made her a teen-lit legend in 1967, has been doing just a little talking about her books and her life. The occasion is the upcoming release of a new, longer version of the film based on the book, The Outsiders: The Complete Novel. Using footage that didn’t make it to the original theatrical release, the new version will spend more time introducing the characters, remix the soundtrack and hew closer to director Francis Ford Coppola’s original vision.
I’m not sure if the film’s recut amounts to exciting news or not (the official Warner Brothers website is one of the ugliest websites I’ve seen in a long time) but I am interested to hear that S. E. Hinton has been granting unusually frank interviews about the real-life stories behind her novel.
The Outsiders was about three brothers living without parents in the Greaser part of town. S. E. Hinton did have parents, but she is now speaking up about the fact that her mother was deeply troubled and abusive, as well as completely unsupportive of her daughter’s surprising writing career. In this sense, the author seems to link herself not to the three brothers but to Johnny, the shy, sweet kid who seems to always get hurt worst in every rumble, whose parents were described as similarly abusive.
This is about as much talking as S. E. Hinton has ever done. If I could interview her further, I’d ask about the origins of her great character names — Sodapop, Ponyboy … she even named a kid M&M in That Was Then, This Is Now, long before Marshall Mathers ever thought of it. But Hinton (who still lives in Tulsa, is happily married and has a son in college) doesn’t speak up too often, and I have a feeling the door is now closed again.
As for the movie (which isn’t the only legendary novel about restless American youth Coppola has been working on), we’ll have to wait till September 20 to see the new cut for ourselves.