Wednesday, 6 March 2013

LETTERS OF NOTE: The Outsiders

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Today's Letter of Note returns us to a familiar theme - namely writers or filmmakers' interactions with schools and schoolchildren. In the past we've had letters about different authors worked being censored by school boards, or Alfred Hitchcock receiving a letter of thanks after visiting a local school while filming The Birds. But today we turn out attention to another film-maker of note and notoriety, Francis Ford Coppola.

In March 1980 Jo Ellen Misakian, the librarian at Lone Star School in Fresno, California, wrote to Coppola about the possibility of adapting S. E. Hilton's The Outsiders to the big screen. She included a copy of the novel (which had coincidentally been banned by several schools) and a petition signed by 110 of her students, who had voted the novel as being their favourite of all time.
Film-makers get requests for adaptations and similar fan mail all the time, but in this case Coppola took their letter to heart. Three months after the original letter, Misakian received a reply from Coppola's producer Fred Roos, saying that a production might be possible and that Coppola was currently reading the novel. By 1982 production on the film was under-way, and the finished project (starring two members of the future Brat Pack) received its premiere at the school in 1983.
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You can read the original letter to Coppola and Roos' multiple responses here. If you're still after more Coppola, check out my review of Apocalypse Now here, or keep your eyes peeling for my forthcoming review of The Conversation, which should be along in a few weeks.

Daniel

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