Francis Ford Coppola On The ‘Therapy’ Of Making The Outsiders and Rumble Fish

The Outsiders

by Ben Travis |
Updated on

In the early ‘80s, Francis Ford Coppola made a curious double bill. Fresh from the financial failure of his 1982 musical film One From The Heart, he returned a year later with two distinct adaptations of novels by writer S.E. Hinton – first came The Outsiders (soon to be reissued in 4K), followed swiftly by Rumble Fish. It was a transformative time for the filmmaker who had been facing bankruptcy, and instead of going broke ended up making two teen coming-of-age classics.

In the current issue of Empire, Coppola, Hinton and their collaborators reflect on the process of making both films, which producer Fred Roos spoke of as being “maybe therapy” for the director. “I wouldn’t disagree,” says Coppola, open about his own personal sensitivity, and the blow he felt from One From The Heart flopping. “I was a lonely kid in the shadow of a brilliant older brother,” he says. “I got bad marks and was very insecure. And as an 82-year-old I still have that person in me. I write early in the morning, because that’s too early for anyone to hurt my feelings yet. Because if my feelings get hurt, I can’t do anything.”

Rumble Fish

If The Outsiders was a success, Rumble Fish didn’t fare as well at the box office at the time, but Coppola now ranks it alongside The Conversation in his own filmography. “It’s such a strange film and it was made from such a sincere place,” he says. And for a career that also includes the Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now, Coppola’s status as a cinematic master is more than secure. “I realise that I’ve made a mark and some people think I’m a very important film director. I’ve certainly made a handful of films that are going to be around for a while,” he says. Now that’s an understatement.

Empire November 2021

Read Empire’s full feature on the making of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife issue – on sale now, and available to order online here.

Empire – November 2021 cover crop

The Outsiders: The Complete Novel comes to UK cinemas on 15 October, and will be available on 4K, Blu-ray and Digital from 8 November.

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