Matt Dillon guest-starred on ABC’s Modern Family this week as Robbie Sullivan, Claire’s ex-boyfriend and her mother’s current boy toy — for a hot second that is. That got me thinking about my absolute favorite Matt Dillon movie and that’s 1983’s The Outsiders. The S.E. Hinton book and the movie were pretty significant for me. And, can we talk about the cast? They were the stuff of Tiger Beat and Teen Beat legend: they were all young, hot and totally mesmerizing to watch. I know some feel the movie wasn’t the greatest, but to me, it really was. And the actors from the film graduated to become big, big stars. But now, many of the alums from The Outsiders have been spending time on the small screen. And I’m happy about that. Some make a regular habit of it; some just stop by and leave us with great memories.
Matt Dillon (Dallas “Dally” Winston): Loved Dallas Winston. He was the bad boy of all the Greasers. He was all “Let’s do it for Johnny, man” and his death scene was epic.
These days, Matt Dillon’s still doing well in the movies, but, it was nice to see him pop up on the small screen for a change. On Modern Family, his character got to reconnect with his ex; make-out with her mom; wear an earring; and put Mitchell in a headlock. I think he was a great choice to play opposite Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and a visiting Shelley Long.
Diane Lane (Cherry Valance): Cherry Valance managed to be cool and fiery all at the same time with her red hair and her gorgeous looks.
While the bulk of Diane Lane’s time is spent on the big screen in movies like Unfaithful, Secretariat and Under the Tuscan Sun, I’m happy to report she’ll be seen later this year on HBO. In Cinema Verite, she stars as the matriarch of a family who became the subject of one of the earliest forms of reality TV. I saw a trailer for it at the Winter TCAs, and she appeared in a panel along with co-stars Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini. I’m really excited to see this movie — right now it’s set to air on HBO this April.
Tom Cruise (Steve Randall): Tom Cruise didn’t have the biggest role in The Outsiders, but he certainly became the most successful graduate of this Francis Ford Coppola film.
His most memorable TV moment didn’t come for anything that was scripted (allegedly). Yes, it had to be his impromptu couch-jumping on a 2005 edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show, when he went on to gush about life with his love and his (now ex) wife, Katie Holmes. I will never forget the weirdness of that.
Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis): Sodapop Curtis was the be all end all for me in The Outsiders. I looked forward to every scene that had him in it. There’s a version of the movie that sometimes airs on TV; it has a Sodapop-centric scene that was cut from the big screen version. It featured Soda running away from his brothers Darry and Pony because he couldn’t take their arguing anymore. Classic middle child syndrome. So happy we finally got to see that scene.
Lowe made a great decision when he transitioned from the big screen to primetime TV. He starred as Sam Seaborn on The West Wing for four seasons before leaving. For me, Rob is the kind of actor I start watching a show because of his presence and I stop tuning into a show because of his absence. So, when he left The West Wing in 2003, I stopped watching. I did sample some of his less-than-successful shows over the years like Dr. Vegas and The Lyon’s Den; and he was the one that led me to watch ABC’s Brothers and Sisters. Of course, when he recently left, so did I. Another TV appearance he made that I adored was as Nick Andros in Stephen King’s The Stand, a miniseries that aired on ABC in 1994. However, one of my all-time favorite Rob Lowe TV projects is Thursday’s Child — a 1983 TV movie where he played a teenager in need of a heart transplant.
And now, he’s on NBC’s hilarious Thursday night sitcom, Parks and Recreation. He plays auditor Chris Traeger. If you’re wondering, I’m now watching that show too. I call it the Rob Lowe Factor. If he factors into a show, then I’m there. I love it when he showcases his comedic side; so the fact he’s doing so on Parks and Rec is fantastic.
C. Thomas “Tommy” Howell (Ponyboy Curtis): Ponyboy Curtis was the focal point of the film. He was the youngest and most innocent of the Greasers; and we saw this tough world of Tulsa, Oklahoma through his eyes.
Howell’s currently making a name for himself on TV. Over the years, he’s guest-starred on 24 and Criminal Minds as serial killer George Foyet; George’s nickname was “The Reaper” — a character based on the real-life Zodiac Killer. Foyet was responsible for murdering Hotchner’s ex-wife. Before there was ABC’s Lost, there was a syndicated program known as Amazon. Created by Peter Benchley (the man who wrote Jaws), the 1999 series was a show about six survivors of a plane crash that landed in the Brazilian Amazon jungle. I totally watched this show and as cheesy/creepy as it was, I loved it. It not only starred Howell but Carol Alt, Chris Martin and Rob Stewart, who’s one of the bad guys of The Division on the CW’s Nikita. Currently, Tommy stars on TNT’s Southland as the royally messed-up alcoholic police officer Dewey Dudek.
Ralph Macchio (Johnny Cade): As Johnny, Ralph Macchio got to say “Stay Gold, Ponyboy. Stay Gold.” Johnny had absolutely no luck in his life, except to have friends in Ponyboy and his family. His death was really sad, but he went out a hero which was cool.
Ralph Macchio went on to star in other movies, but he’s finally doing more and more television. He guest-starred as himself on HBO’s Entourage and Starz’ Head Case. He had a recurring role on ABC’s Ugly Betty as a politician boyfriend of Hilda’s. Most recently, he’s guest-starred on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Psych. Seems to me this guy needs a series regular role sooner rather than later. Hope this happens. And, back in the day, before The Outsiders, he starred on the final season of the family drama Eight is Enough.
UPDATE (2/28/11): The 12th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars has been announced and Macchio is part of the cast. This isn’t exactly what I meant by wanting to see him on a series sooner rather than later, but I’ll take it.
Leif Garrett (Bob Sheldon): The former teen idol had a brief yet pivotal role as Bob Sheldon, the Soc that Johnny killed to save Ponyboy. Garrett’s portrayal as the spoiled teen from the right side of the tracks was memorable.
Before he starred in The Outsiders, he had roles on Family and CHiPS. Most recently, he was a cast member on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. He’s also a regular commentator on truTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest.
Patrick Swayze (Darrel, “Darry” Curtis): As Darry, Swayze embodied the eldest Curtis brother. He was the man of the house; the responsible one; the protector. Because their parents were killed, he had to abandon his plans for college and more, in order to take care of his brothers. I loved the turbulent relationship that existed between the Curtis men. One of my favorite scenes was when they were reunited in the hospital after Ponyboy and Johnny played hero at the abandoned Church that had caught fire.
We no longer have Swayze as part of our lives, but his veteran career featured a few notable TV Ties. Before he died, he starred in the A&E crime drama The Beast. Back in the 80s, he was the southern gentleman Orry Main in the epic miniseries North and South as well as North and South Book II. Plus, his 1990 appearance hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live was awesome, for the Chippendales dance-off he did with Chris Farley alone.
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