Gillian Flynn on the other '80s teen idol from ''The Outsiders'' and ''Red Dawn''

By Gillian Flynn
Updated March 10, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

A pox on Cruise, Macchio, Estevez. There’s but one ’80s teen idol for me, the truly appealing C. Thomas Howell. Few things bring more pleasure than this 1 a.m. conundrum: The Outsiders on TNT or Red Dawn on Starz? As The Outsiders‘ Ponyboy Curtis, he’s the calm Robert Frost-reciting center of a gang of scenery-chewing Brat Packers. In 1984’s Red Dawn he flaunts the best of what can only be called Dark Tommy, battling U.S. of A-invading Russian bastards while spitting lines like ”[My hate] keeps me warm.” Then there’s Even Darker Tommy, as the faux black student in Soul Man. Other canon highlights: Tank (as James Garner’s hapless son) and Side Out (as a saucy beach volleyballer). Sadly, C. Tommy is underused of late — recently seen as a dirty cop in Master P’s Hot Boyz. Straight-to-video never looked so good.

Guilt-o-meter: 7