Francis Ford Coppola received letters over the years from fans of the novel, many expressing disappointment that several key scenes from the book were omitted from the film version (they were in Coppola's original cut, but were edited at the behest of the studio). Years later, Coppola's granddaughter was reading the book in class, and was about to watch the film with her fellow schoolmates. Feeling embarrassed, Coppola cobbled together what would eventually become his director's cut.
Ponyboy: Nature's first green is gold, / Her hardest hue to hold. / Her early leaf's a flower, / But only so an hour. / Then leaf subsides to leaf, / So Eden sank to grief. / So dawn goes down to day, / Nothing gold can stay.
How could Johnny stop Dallas from bothering Cherry when Dallas is obviously the toughest and meanest guy in the gang?
SE Hinton has Pony explain in the book that Johnny is essentially the weakest member of the group and also the one they're all most likely to both pity and protect. Johnny had been attacked by a group of Socs in the recent past who slashed his face with a knife and had beaten him badly. After the attack, the rest of the gang began to protect him and Pony because they were the gang's youngest members.One of Johnny's attackers, Bob, wore several rings on his fingers which added to the vicious beating. After the incident Johnny started carrying a switchblade.Also, in the novel Ponyboy says that Johnny is probably the only thing Dally ever loved. That may be the reason that Dallas would listen to Johnny in that situation.
Why is there a "complete novel" edit of the film, and why is there new music?
Coppola decided that his father's original score was so over-operatic that it distanced the audience from the characters, so for the new cut, it was replaced with period music. The edit itself was made in large part because of Coppola's granddaughter. S.E. Hinton's original novel is required reading in many middle school English classes, and Coppola's granddaughter was reaching the age where she would be required to read it. Coppola says he was asked, either by her or a classmate, why so many scenes from the book were not in the final cut of the movie. He decided for the sake of his granddaughter and her classmates to restore the missing scenes.