These Circle Cinema screenings of the film were special, with proceeds going toward restoring the Outsiders House Museum, the north Tulsa home where parts ...and more »
This time they were doing it for Johnny.
As more than 400 people squeezed into auditoriums at Circle Cinema on Sunday for screenings of “The Outsiders,” it seemed clear that these superfans had seen the film more than once before.
But these screenings were special, with proceeds going toward restoring the Outsiders House Museum, the north Tulsa home where parts of the film were shot in 1982, and with some of the movie’s stars on hand.
Like C. Thomas Howell, who played “greaser” Ponyboy Curtis, and Darren Dalton, who played the “soc” Randy Anderson, both of whom came to Tulsa last August for a fundraiser, and who returned for this weekend of events honoring the 50th anniversary of the publication of S.E. Hinton’s book.
They were joined this time by Ralph Macchio, who played the doomed Johnny Cade in the movie, and who couldn’t help but “stay gold” amid an army of fans lined up at the theater for photos and autographs.
“Come on, squeeze in for the class picture!” Macchio called to a family, ushering them behind the autograph table for a photo with him and the other two actors, as a long line of those waiting their turn beamed with smiles at the chance to soon meet these “Outsiders” icons.
There was a smile between the tears for Bianca Fletcher, a 14-year-old from Bartlesville who was overcome with emotion and received hugs from Macchio and Howell.
“It’s still the young people that amaze me, how passionate they are about it, and now seeing three generations of fans,” said Macchio, who managed flight delays from New York to arrive Saturday for the benefit concert at Cain’s Ballroom, staying there for photos and autographs until 12:45 a.m. Sunday.
“For ‘The Outsiders,’ you get the teenage girls and it’s so bigger-than-life for them, and they connect with the hardships of Johnny. It’s important.”
It was important for Meg Deweese to meet the actors after 19 years of teaching “The Outsiders” to her eighth-grade English students at Thoreau Demonstration Academy.
“My kids are going to love this, thank you so much!” she said to the actors as she picked up her autographed photo and told of her classes reading the book together, discussing its themes and then staging a “Poetry Rumble” in which they dress as “greasers” and “socs” and recite original poetry from those individual perspectives.
“Every year, it’s amazing the number of times a student has told me, ‘This is the first book that I’ve really liked.’ I had to come today. I’m the same age as (the actors). I’m a Brat Packer, too.”
Coming to Tulsa for the “Outsiders” weekend from farther away was Katie Sawyer, who from London runs a website for fans of the movie “Rumble Fish” — also based on a Hinton book, and shot in Tulsa after “The Outsiders” completed filming.
“Oh, I wouldn’t have missed it, and the chance to see the house and the work they’ve done,” she said. “It’s great seeing all this Tulsa love, all these new young fans with new passions for the movie, for the book.
“That is never going to go away. I’m glad Tulsa seems to understand how important this all is to so many people.”
Like to Jerry Hancock, of Broken Arrow, who described his father as a “greaser” and who attended with his daughter, Sarah, saying “This is our go-to movie. It’s probably 100 times we’ve seen it. We’re excited about the museum.”
Or to Jeff Hawes, who traveled by plane and by bus from Seattle.
“The weekend has exceeded all my expectations. It seems like everybody in Tulsa has a story to tell about ‘The Outsiders,’ like they have a connection to it,” Hawes said.
“You see a lot of cities change and things that are important (to civic pride) end up gone, and I wanted to contribute, in my small way, to the house being around for people to enjoy for years to come.”
The film screening ended in one auditorium, and Macchio walked in to say goodbye to the Circle Cinema audience.
Johnny Cade is still doing it for this movie hometown that’s adopted him.
“Thank you for coming, and it’s been a great couple of days in Tulsa,” Macchio told the crowd, “and I’m going to bring my family back here when the museum is all done, so you’re not done with me yet.”
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