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Martin Scorsese’s After Hours(1985): A New York Nocturnal Story

Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett in After HoursMartin Scorsese is one of the very few directors who excel in any genre they dabble in. The first Martin Film I was introduced to was King of Comedy, which again is a genre most of us do not associate with Martin. After Hours is another Scorsese film which is not discussed by many as it should be, and this is one of the underrated gems by the auteur of American Cinema.

Martin Scorsese was all set to shoot The Last Temptation of Christ, when the concrned Studio pulled the plug. This was a time period when Martin’s directorial ability was being questioned, naysayers were saying Scorsese could not handle big budget movies. Fortunately, Martin came across the script of After Hours, which was written by Joseph Minion as his thesis at Columbia Film School. He got an “A” from his teacher, Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev. The film made on a modest budget of 4.5 million USD did moderately well at the Box Office, and also helped Scorsese in bouncing back.

Paul Hackett is working as a word Processor in a company, in Manhattan; he is lonely and hates his job. Lady Luck seems to smile on him, when Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) strikes a conversation with him, and soon she gives him her number to call. Paul lands ups at Marcy’s place which she shares with her kinky artist friend Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), who speaks in a strange way and is into bondage sex.Paul soon realises that Marcy is not the type of girl, he thought she would be.

The Subway Ride in After HoursThis is just the start of eventful nights in which disaster after disaster befall him. What should have been a piece of cake seems no longer easy. He cannot board the subway as ticket rates have been hiked,hence forced to perambulate  around Soho, he finds himself entrapped in various encounters and people who seem to be more eccentric than the previous one. This surely can happen only in New York. Even the characters whom Paul never meets in the movie are with quirks, like Marcy’s Husband who is huge fan of The Wizard of Oz.Marcy tells Paul, that her husband has a habit  of calling her “Surrender Dorothy” while making love to her.

Paul on his nocturnal misadventures is forced to have a Mohawk haircut, is chased by vigilante mob who thinks he is a burglar, meets an overbearing blonde waitress, ice-cream truck driver who befriends him first and then bays for his blood, bumps into a sympathetic bartender and two thieves who discuss merit of art.

Martin Scorsese's Love affair with His City New York

Martin Scorsese’s Love affair with His City New York

To slot After Hours as a comedy would be the easiest thing to do, but it is a movie which is more than a comedy. This is one of the most original films I have ever seen, it is always delight to watch a movie which does not take you for granted, and it engages you with every scene. It is a film which is meant to be experienced. I assure you it will not disappoint you even once for a split second.

One of the best things of After Hours is its wonderful casting Scorsese gives you best of the best from Hollywood. Teri Garr who plays the overbearing Waitress Julie, Catherine O’Hara who plays Ice-Cream Truck Driver who leads a mob to kill Paul, the Waiter played by one and only one Dick Miller. After Hours has one of the best acting ensemble cast of 80’s.


One of the scenes from After Hours,where i could not stop laughing,

One of the scenes from After Hours,where i could not stop laughing,

Griffin Dunne who plays Paul Hackett is also producer of After Hours. Griffin Dune brings likability to character, which is somewhat amiable. If you look closely the character of Paul Hackett is not a character which has any heroic or redeeming factor going for him  by any account, he does not have any imposing physical features. He does not have the courage to tell a date that it is not working, he does not have qualms while trying to score with a friend’s date, but in the end we as audience to root for him.

The film had its share of  controversy when it was released, Joe Frank had claimed that first thirty minutes of movie was plagiarized from his NPR playhouse monologue “Lies”. You can listen to the play here.Frank has never been credited for screenplay till date.

All said and done this underrated classic by Scorsese is in the league of Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and deserves to be seen and discussed more.



By: Cinemausher
Posted: June 30, 2013, 9:25 am


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