In the poster for the film, the Greasers are shown laughing as Johnny (Ralph Macchio) is smirking. This was a candid shot, taken during the photo session in which the actors were supposed to look tough at the camera. What happened was that Leif Garrett (who played Bob) was approaching the food table off-camera, and a stagehand (who didn't know who Garrett was) said "The food is for the talent (meaning actors)," and Macchio sarcastically said, "Yeah, it's for the TALENT!" This comment cracked up the cast, and the photo was used.
Francis Ford Coppola received letters over the years from fans of the novel, many expressing disappointment that several key scenes from the book were omitted from the film version (they were in Coppola's original cut, but were edited at the behest of the studio). Years later, Coppola's granddaughter was reading the book in class, and was about to watch the film with her fellow schoolmates. Feeling embarrassed, Coppola cobbled together what would eventually become his director's cut.
During filming, the actors playing the Socs were given leather-bound scripts and were put up in luxury accommodations, while the "greasers" were given battered paperback scripts and had to stay in the ground floor of the hotel, as director Francis Ford Coppola wanted to create tension between the two groups.
After Matt Dillon auditioned for the part of Dally, director Francis Ford Coppola went up to him and told him, "You can go home now." Dillon thought he didn't get the part and called his agent and told him he didn't get the part. Later on, it turned out Coppola sent him home early because he already knew he was going to cast him as Dally.
The film is based on a book that is very popular among junior high and high school students. A school class was actually responsible for Francis Ford Coppola making this film. A class voted Coppola the director they would most like to see direct a film of the book. The school sent a letter and a copy of the book to Coppola. Coppola read the book and the letter. He was so moved, he made both this film and Rumble Fish (1983). Coppola threw out Kathleen Rowell's script, wrote his own, and filmed the new screenplay. However, due to a decision by the Writers Guild, Coppola was unable to secure a credit for himself.
During filming Tom Cruise had gotten his script for Risky Business (1983). In the DVD commentary, Diane Lane says (very quietly) to the other actors that he had asked her during filming to play Lana in 'Risky Business', and her father told him there's no way in hell she was going to be a hooker in his movie.
While Ponyboy and Johnny are best friends in the novel and film, C. Thomas Howell recalls often not getting along with co-star Ralph Macchio, saying he was very serious and professional. He remembers a specific argument dealing with him wanting to beat his high score on Pacman and Macchio demanding they rehearsed their lines. Their differences could be attributed to the fact that Howell was only fourteen and Macchio was twenty.
During the restored dinner scene where Sodapop runs away, the character is seen with a piece of paper at the table. According to the novel by S.E. Hinton, it is a "Dear John" letter from Soda's girlfriend Sandy, whom he claimed he wished to marry.
In the scene where the boys are in the street getting excited for the rumble, 'Tom Cruise (I)' does a standing back tuck off of the top of a truck. Patrick Swayze coached him before hand on how to do it. Right before the scene was to be filmed, Cruise nervously approached writer S.E. Hinton and said he was afraid he wasn't going to be able to do it, because he felt nauseous from eating too much at lunch. Hinton asked if him if he thought he would feel better if he threw up. Cruise said that he thought so. Hinton took him to the food truck, and made him drink raw eggs until he threw up, resulting in Cruise feeling much better and doing the stunt without a problem.
The actors pulled some pranks in the hotel in which they stayed while shooting this movie. Years later, Tom Cruise was introduced to someone who said he worked at the hotel Cruise and the rest of the cast stayed in while they shot this movie. The first thing Cruise said when he heard that was "I'm sorry."
In the film, Dallas (Matt Dillon) harasses Cherry (Diane Lane) and the two have an altercation. The scene was shot early in filming, and both actors recall years later that it got them off on the wrong foot and created real tension between them off set - hence why their irritability with each other in the scene seems very real. When the cast reunited in 2003 for the 20th anniversary, the men laughed when Diane told this, all agreeing that they remembered the ongoing feud between her and Matt. Diane blames her adolescent insecurities for being so sensitive to Matt's teasing, and admitted that she remembers fondly he and the other boys being very protective of her. Matt and Diane ended up shooting two other films together, both of which they are each other's love interest, and became good friends.
Writer of the original novel S.E. Hinton was a part of every aspect of filming. She has stated in several interviews how much she loved the boys that were casted to make up her gang of greasers. Since almost all of them were teenagers and away from home with no adult supervision, she claims that she became a mother figure for them on and off set, and fondly remembers them calling her "mom".
'Diane Lane (I)' (qv said that during the scene with Cherry and Ponyboy talking before the rumble said that C. Thomas Howell was making funny faces at her when the camera was only showing her face which made it hard for her to concentrate and not laugh. During the commentary almost 20 years later, she reminded him of that and he responded (referring to director Francis Ford Coppola) "Francis told me to do it."
Rob Lowe's film debut. He had also auditioned for the role of Randy Anderson. This was not by his choice. He certainly did not want to play a "soc" in a movie about greasers. He even considered lowering his performance level for Randy's audition so he'd seem like a better fit for the Sodapop role.
Rob Lowe turned eighteen-years-old during filming. According to him, the other boys mercilessly played pranks on him all day on his birthday, such as saran wrapping his toilet seat and filling his hotel room with fire extinguishing foam.
Over a half hour of the film was cut before release, due to movie executives fearing it to be too long and a chance of upsetting fans of the book, making the movie a mere 91 minutes. In 2005, a "director's cut" DVD of this film was released that restores much of this footage.
While shooting a particular scene, eighteen-year-old Matt Dillon was continuously goofing off. Frustrated, director Francis Ford Coppola swore at him and called him an "airhead" on set. Writer S.E. Hinton convinced Francis to apologize and Matt to cooperate. Francis ended up growing so fond of Matt that he casted him in his following film 'Rumble Fish' (also Hinton's).
In addition to the 22 minutes of restored footage in the 2005 "Complete Novel" DVD, there are additional scenes that are not included, such as: an extension of the "walking home" introduction where the Socs accost Sodapop and Steve at the DX station and Darry throws some debris from the roof of a house at their car as they drive past him (this extension also includes more narration by Ponyboy); an alternate introduction to Johnny where his mother chases him out of the house with a broom, only to be stopped by Two-Bit, who rushes to Johnny's aid; additional footage of Ponyboy and Johnny at the church where they hide from some people riding on a horse; additional footage where Ponyboy and Darry have a fight only to be walked out on by Sodapop; and an extended morning scene following the church fire where Ponyboy awakes and urges Sodapop to wake up, echoing the words he heard Darry say in his dream at the church, "Rise and shine."
When Dallas (Matt Dillon) robs the store clerk, the clerk is played by character actor William Smith, who a few years earlier had portrayed Falconetti in Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). Years later, in the film Beautiful Girls (1996), Dillon's character Tommy tells his roommate Paul that he will be skipping their high school reunion and staying home to watch "Rich Man, Poor Man". The two characters then gush that there was never a more terrifying on-screen villain than Falconetti.
According to writer S.E. Hinton, the boys caused quite a bit of trouble in the hotel they were staying in during the three months of filming. One particular incident she recalled in an interview was the night they filmed the fountain scene, where Bob (Leif Garrett) is attempting to drown Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell). Later on, the six other boys jokingly mocked this scene in the hotel's lobby fountain, playfully trying to drown each other. Hinton states the hotel had the fountain removed within weeks.
The camera shot of Johnny at the fountain, which starts almost upside-down and turns (with Ponyboy's point-of-view as he is getting up) is Francis Ford Coppola "stealing from himself" in a sort of homage to the shot of Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now (1979), where the natives turn him upside-down, and the camera follows in his point-of-view.
There are a few differences regarding the characters' descriptions from the novel. In the novel, Dallas has blonde hair, but his hair is jet black in the film. Also in the novel, "Two-Bit" is six-foot, but Emilio Estevez is only 5'4". Steve Randle is also supposed to be tall in the novel, unlike Tom Cruise.
During the drive in theatre scene, you can see Ponyboy shivering several times and see the actors breath a few times. This was due to it only being around 34 degrees and the wardrobe department was adamant that he wear the shirt with no sleeves.
Tom Cruise's only film of 1983, in which he did not have a starring role. The others are Risky Business, Losin' It and All the Right Moves. Also, his last supporting role in a film until Magnolia (1999).
The convenience store that Dallas pulls out a gun on the store clerk is a U-tote-M - this particular convenience store chain originated in the Houston, TX metro area which was acquired by Leroy Melcher in 1950 when it operated 10 stores. U-tote-M expanded to 1000 stores when Melcher became the president and CEO. A sister company, U-tote-M of San Antonio, Texas, later evolved to become National Convenience Stores. U-tote-M was acquired by the Circle K Corporation on December 29, 1983 where the 960 U-Tote-M chain was rebranded as Circle K. Circle K was later acquired by Canadian convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard; as of 2013, the U-Tote-M brand name and trademark (after the Circle K purchase) has been declared abandoned. After U-tote-M was merged into Circle K, Leroy Melcher's namesake (as a former University of Houston alumni) was used by the University of Houston's C.T. Bauer College of Business main building, named Melcher Hall in 1986.
Jerry Wood differs slightly from the book. In the book Jerry Wood comes from a place where the greaser and soc conflict isn't present and is neither a soc or greaser. Who doesn't even know what a greaser or a soc even is. In the movie however he does know what a greaser or a soc is and is even a soc himself.