The Outsiders movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was The Outsiders filmed?

1961

About The Outsiders

Filmed in 1961, The Outside is a movie that is based on the life of Ira Hayes, a Native American soldier who was a member of the Marine Corps and who fought in World War II. One of the things he is most remembered for is his part in the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Directed by the well-respected filmmaker Delbert Mann, the star of this movie is Tony Curtis.

The opening The Outsiders film scene (spoiler alert!) introduces Jim Sorenson (James Franciscus), Hayes’ closest friend. This character is a composite of several different men who worked alongside Hayes and who also took part in the raising of the flag.

At the onset of this film, Hamilton “Ira” Hayes is only 16 years old. Having never departed from Arizona’s Pima Reservation, he decides to enlist himself in the United States Marine Corps. Because of his heritage, Hayes is mocked and avoided by the other Marines who laughingly refer to him as “Chief.” He is befriended by Jim Sorenson. By sheer coincidence, the two men are selected with four other soldiers to raise the U.S flat on Mount Suribachi as the battle raged on at Iwo Jima. A single photograph of the event soon becomes a poignant reminder of the war and later becomes the inspiration for a memorial that was built and opened to the public in Arlington, Virginia. Just after this photo was taken, Sorenson was killed by the enemy’s artillery.

Having lost his only friend, Hayes goes back to the United States. Though he is hailed as a hero and asked to assist with selling war bonds, Hayes suffers from a very deep depression. He feels he is not deserving of the attention he receives and is uncomfortable with the affection of the public. To cope with his emotions, he begins to drink whiskey heavily.

Hayes’ dependence on alcohol becomes public knowledge, bringing shame to him. Desiring to live a private life, he tries to withdraw but is compelled by a tribal chief to go to Washington to ask for assistance with an irrigation bill. He travels to Arlington for the dedication of the war memorial designed to replicate the photo of him and Sorenson raising the flag at Iwo Jima and is moved to seek sobriety.

He goes back to the reservation but is saddened to discover that the tribal council has withdrawn from him. Feeling alone, Hayes returns to heavy drinking. He travels into the hills and passes away as a result of being unprepared for the elements he would face there. His death transpired 10 years after the battle of Iwo Jima. He was just 32 at the time of his death.

City Locations

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, 10005 East Osborn Road, Scottsdale, Arizona; Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois; Southern California: Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Oceanside; San Diego

Location Types

Nature, battlefields, government offices, reservations

Location Styles

City, country, battlefields, government offices, memorial

The Outsiders Locations

There are several different The Outsiders filming locations scattered throughout the southern United States. With many scenes shot on an Arizona reservation and other footage done at several different Marine corps training facilities and bases, the landscape is quite diverse and interesting in this classic film.

If true life stories are your favorite films, why not consider a trip to visit the filming locations for The Outsiders? You’re sure to have an amazing time!

Fun Fact:

The Outsiders was originally filmed in black and white.

Ira picks up Jay after his tour of duty scene in The Outsiders

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, 10005 East Osborn Road, Scottsdale, Arizona

The opening The Outsiders film set introduces the entrance to the Pima Indian Reservation. Ira is a young teenager facing the direction of the reservation, observing the sign that indicates the region’s limits. He is there to pick up Jay, another Native American who is serving in the Marine Corps. He is returning home from active duty. En route back to the reservation, the two discuss what life in Marines is like. Ira wonders how Native Americans are treated by the other men. Describing the landscape of the area in which he served, Jay tells Ira, “You oughta see the ditches in paleface country. Full enough to breed whales in. And swimming pools, I bet I saw a thousand flying over Phoenix.”

Shot along East Osborn Road in Scottsdale, this The Outsiders production scene takes place at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, making it the ideal spot for a film dedicated to life of Pima Native American Ira Hayes. To visit this The Outsiders location, turn left onto E Vía De Commercio, making a right onto N Vía De Negocio. Make another right onto East Via de Ventura, taking an additional right and merging onto AZ-101 S Loop. Turn at Exit 47, travelling onto Indian School Road. Make a right onto N Longmore Road, travelling half a mile until you reach the sign for E Osborn Road where you will make a final right-hand turn. The reservation grounds are found on the left.

Ira announces he has enlisted scene in The Outsiders

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, 10005 East Osborn Road, Scottsdale, Arizona

In one of the best scenes in The Outsiders, Jay and Ira are travelling along the reservation road towards Jay’s home when Ira produces a letter showing he has enlisted in the Marine Corps. Ira laments that his parents must sign his enlistment form, permitting for him to join the service. He tells Jay that he is the first person he has told about his enlisting. The two men reach the town where Jay’s wife and family are waiting for him. Jay travels to his home where his family is speaking disparagingly about the war. Ira’s uncle is against Native American involvement in the war efforts, and this conversation ensues:

Uncle: My people fed his (the white man)’s armies.

Ira: Uncle, don’t you mean our people?

Uncle: MINE! I’m a Pima. I don’t know what you are.

This The Outsiders filming location takes place a little further up E Osborn Road. A film set was constructed Specifically for the scenes shot in this home on the reservation. Though the film set has long been destroyed, you can still travel to the Pima Reservation to view the land where many of The Outsiders action scenes were captured on film. To view the area where this iconic scene may have been filmed, simply continue travelling along E Osborn Road.

Ira’s first day as a Marine scene in The Outsiders

Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Oceanside, California

The new recruits arrive at their training center. They stand together in a group watching a team of soldiers walks by in regimented formation. Their commanding officer stands behind them. He tells them to turn around, and the group obeys his command. He begins with some preliminary instructions and then introduces himself as Sergeant Kiley. He shares this with his new recruits:

“I have been watching you blobs fall through your nostrils for the past two minutes. You are going to learn something about discipline. I’m not your mommy. Your mommy’s not here to protect you or to pick up after you or to kiss you where it hurts. If you treat me like you treat your mama, and you’ll wish you were dead.”

Still an operational Marine Corps training camp, it is possible to visit the grounds where some of the filming for The Outsiders occurred. It is best to contact base camp headquarters to arrange a tour of the facilities. Travel to this Marine Corps base camp is available by train or taxi right from the heart of San Diego.

Jim Sorenson is singled out by Sergeant Kiley scene in The Outsiders

Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Oceanside, California

During the lineup and initial new recruit instruction, Sergeant Kiley singles out Jim Sorenson, noting that he has perfectly executed all of the standard requirements of a soldier being addressed by an officer without having been asked to do so. He also notes that Jim was at the top of his class in military school. He goes on to inform Jim in one of several funny scenes in The Outsiders:

“You think too much, General. From here on out, you have nothing between your ears except a blood clot. And the only one that thinks is me. Is that clear?”

Filmed at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Oceanside, a tour of the grounds conducted by a member of staff will allow you to visit many of the filming locations in The Outsiders during a single visit.

Ira nearly drowns during the training scene in The Outsiders

Camp Matthews, La Jolla, California

Sergeant Kiley oversees training at the pool. He begins the countdown for the men to enter the pool. Ira tries to interrupt by saying, “Sir” but is ignored by Kiley who gives the command for the men to jump in the water and begin to swim. It quickly becomes apparent that Ira cannot swim. He flounders in the water and is pulled to safety by another officer. The following conversation takes place:

Sergeant Kiley: Why didn’t you tell me you can’t swim?

Ira: You didn’t ask me, Sir.

Sergeant Kiley: You will get back into the water, and you will learn. Esther Williams (speaking of Jim Sorenson) here will teach you. Because when I ordered Esther Williams to jump, she decided to dive. Esther Williams will teach you how to swim better than she does, won’t you?”

No longer an active military training camp, Camp Matthews, sometimes referred to as Matthew Quad, in La Jolla, California, was used for several of the scenes shot in this beloved film. To visit this The Outsiders location, you can expect to spend approximately 22 minutes in driving time if traveling from San Diego. The easiest way to access this The Outsiders location is by taking the CA-163N/Febrillo Freeway to I-5N.

Ira attends the unveiling of the war memorial scene in The Outsiders

Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Virginia

In one of the most moving scenes in The Outsiders, Ira attends the dedication of the Marine Corps War. Memorial, a monument modeled on an iconic photograph of him, Jim Sorenson, and four other Marines erecting the American flag atop the mountain during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Ira is visibly moved by the unveiling of the memorial and commits to turning his back on his alcoholism and embracing a life of sobriety. In his speech honoring the men who inspired the memorial, the President shares these words:

“In the profoundest sense, the heroes we honor were engaged in building their own memorial. Not in temporal stone or bronze, but in the timeless, boundless realm of the human spirit.”

A visit to this The Outsiders location is truly awe-inspiring. Situated quite near to Arlington National Cemetery, you can easily reach the Marine Corps War Memorial by subway from the Rosslyn or Arlington National Cemetery Metro Stations. Upon the arrival of the subway, it is approximately a 10–15-minute walk to the site of the monument.

Conclusion

A movie that truly pulls at your heart strings, it is well worth your time to rewatch the old classic film The Outsiders. Filmed on a variety of different sets including several Marine corps training bases, The Outsiders film sets truly transport you back to this period of history, giving you the feeling of experiencing these historical events from a bird’s eye view.

If you’re thinking you might like to visit The Outsiders locations, you’re sure to find our guide to the best scenes in this movie a great place to start.