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The Burning Church Scene In The Outsiders Presented An Unexpected Challenge For Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola is arguably best known for directing "The Godfather" trilogy, and he is one of the truest representations of the Auteur theory in any era of Hollywood history. Coppola not only helmed the epic chronicle of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and his mafia family, but the director is also responsible for some of Tinseltown's most notable projects, including "Apocalypse Now," "The Cotton Club," and "Bram Stoker's Dracula." However, in 1983, Coppola had the incredible fortune of directing a who's who of up-and-coming talents when he took the reins of "The Outsiders," which included actors C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, and Rob Lowe.

In 2005, Coppola rereleased his original version of the Greasers versus the Socs as "The Outsiders: The Complete Novel," which included 22 minutes of footage that didn't appear in the original cut of the movie. "As a viewer, when I see the film, I feel the intention of the novel and the beauty of the novel is more completely realized in a more whole way," Coppola spoke about the significance of the updated version in an interview (per StudioCanal UK).

"The other film had certainly beautiful parts, but there were definitely sections that should not have been missing," Coppola continued. Both versions of the motion picture do their filmmaker credit and are filled with beautifully captured cinematic moments. But did you know the burning church was one of the most difficult scenes for Coppola to nail down?

The scene with the burning church was a challenge for Coppola to film

Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders" remains more popular with fans than critics (per Rotten Tomatoes), but even with all the film's talent, problems inevitably burden every production. "All films come with their anxiety because, you know, you're working against the schedule," Coppola said during an interview (via StudioCanal UK). "And it's a little bit like running on a railroad track in front of a locomotive. If you trip, if you make a mistake, if you're a little too slow, the locomotive will run over you." And while Coppola couldn't pinpoint a specific reason other than time constraints, the director admitted the church sequence was a nightmare to capture on film.

"The scene of the church, burning church, with the little children escaping from the church, was for some reason very difficult to get," Coppola continued. The director told StudioCanal that he was "very worried," and he didn't have any idea whether or not he was correctly capturing the footage on film.

Coppola also elaborated in the same interview what a joy it was to work with Diane Lane, who plays Cherry. He remembered the actor being "lovely, talented, and kind," even as a teenager. But Coppola seemed most pleased when he reminisced about his daughter, Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation," "The Godfather Part III"), who made a cameo as the girl with the puppy-dog-ears hairstyle. Sofia's character was trying to score some money for ice cream from Dallas (Matt Dillon), Johnny (Ralph Macchio), and Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) at the local Dairy Queen.