How The Outsiders came to a theater near you

As a librarian, person who works with young readers/writers, and member of a book club that focuses on fiction adapted for the big screen, there’s not much I don’t like about this series of correspondence featured on Letters of Note, detailing how The Outsiders was turned into a movie.

Here are just some of the things I love about this post:

  • The students imagined their favorite book as a movie. Their librarian helped them identify the concrete steps to  turn their wish into something actionable. This is the very best and most important thing that librarians do: connect your thoughts  to real things, books, people, and possible courses of action. 
  • Producer Fred Roos writes back time and time again, even when there is no real news, just to update the school on the progress on the movie. I don’t think this would or could ever happen today. I love the tone throughout all of his letters. He is forthright, but reserved. Pragmatic but optimistic. Attentive but not condescending. He is gracious.
  • The studio seeks the students’ input on what changes might be made to the adapted screenplay focusing, interestingly, on the business end of things: not duplicating the title of another recent movie, and not hitting too close to home with recent real-life news events–the changes that might need to be made to help the movie succeed as a commercial undertaking. What a great assignment this would be for students reading this book. 
  • The Outsiders has its own letterhead!

I read The Outsiders years ago, and I’ve never seen the movie. What do you think of it as an adapted work? Does knowing the backstory change anything?

Letters of Note and its sibling, Lists of Note, are two of my favorite sources for historical potpourri. I love the variety of poignant and asshatty things cultural luminaries have written to their lovers and children.


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