80s Hollywood Comes to Tulsa: Scenes from the Filming of Rumble Fish & The Outsiders

80s Hollywood Comes to Tulsa: Scenes from the Filming of Rumble Fish & The Outsiders

through April 30, 2018

In 1982, Director Francis Ford Coppola came to Tulsa to film The Outsiders, based on a book written by Tulsa native S.E. Hinton. While in town, he decided to stay and create a movie from a second Hinton novel. Rumble Fish was filmed immediately following The Outsiders and even used some of the same cast.  The resulting projects were two very different films about teenage life.

  • 2008.099.008B & W photo of extras on the set of the film The Outsiders.  c.1982.   Kraus.L - R Tom CruiseC. Thomas Howell, hands in pocketsEmilio Estevez, Mickey Mouse tee shirt
  • 2008.099.010B & W photo on set of The Outsiders; from right: Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze (behind Estevez) and Tom Cruise. 1982.  Photo by Dave Kraus/Tulsa Tribune.
  • 2008.099.011B & W photo on set of The Outsiders; from left:  Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe (in white t-shirt), Tom Cruise (raised arms) C. Thomas Howell behind Cruise, neck bent over c. 1982.  Photo by Dave Kraus/Tulsa Tribune.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders is based on a book written by Susie Hinton when she was a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa. It was published in 1967 under her initials “S.E.”  – a moniker she retained publicly – because the main characters were all male and her publisher thought people would not read it if they realized it was written by a girl.

15 years later in 1982, Francis Ford Coppola decided to turn this much-loved book into a film after receiving a letter and petition signed by more than 100 junior high students in Fresno, California. In keeping with the book, he decided to shoot the movie in Tulsa and use lots of dialogue straight from the source. In addition, he asked Hinton to help write the screenplay and provide guidance with the filming.

Rumble Fish

S.E. Hinton and Director Francis Ford Coppola worked well together while filming The Outsiders in early 1982. Their camaraderie was evident when Coppola asked part-way through the first project if she had another book they could turn into a film while he was in Tulsa with actors and a film crew.  Hinton reportedly told him, “Well, I’ve got this weird book called Rumble Fish, and nobody gets it.” Coppola’s response a few days later as he came running up to her with a copy of the book in his hand was, “I love the book. It’s so weird. We’ll make it weirder.”

Movie Posters – both films were released in 1983

outsiders-movie-poster-xsm rumble-fish-movie-poster