After Hours (film)  

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"Radio artist Joe Frank later filed a lawsuit, claiming the screenplay of After Hours lifted its plot setup and portions of dialogue (particularly in the first 30 minutes of the film) from his 1982 NPR Playhouse monologue "Lies." Though Frank never received official credit, he reportedly received a substantial settlement."--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

After Hours is an American black comedy/thriller film released in 1985, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Joseph Minion. It depicts a New Yorker, white collar worker Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), who experiences a series of adventures and perils in trying to make his way home from SoHo.



Paul Hackett is a word processor who experiences a hellish and seemingly endless night on the seedy streets of New York's SoHo village; broke, frenzied and at his rope's end he is thrust into the increasingly upsetting and often outlandish lives of a variety of ensemble characters. A sequence of misfortunes, coupled with misunderstandings and tragedies threaten Paul's safety and sanity while he attempts to get back to his apartment, uptown.


Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a word processor, meets a woman named Marcy Franklin (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe. They converse about their common interest in the works of Henry Miller. Marcy leaves Paul her number and informs him that she lives with a sculptor named Kiki Bridges (Linda Fiorentino), who makes and sells plaster of Paris paperweights resembling bagels. Later in the night, Paul goes on to visit Marcy, losing his $20 bill on the way. The two have a romantic time in the apartment, yet Paul is alarmed by the spooky aura in the place and leaves abruptly.

He proceeds to go home by subway, yet the fare increases and he could not afford it. He goes to a bar. The owner, Tom Shorr (John Heard) cannot open the cash register to help him. They exchange keys so Paul can go to Tom's place to fetch the cash register keys. On the way, he spots two burglars, Neil and Pepe (Cheech and Chong), with one of Kiki's work. When he returns the sculpture to the apartment, he finds Marcy has committed suicide while Kiki and a stout man named Horst (Will Patton) have already left to go to Club Berlin, a nightclub. Paul goes back to Tom's bar, finding Tom in deep grief, for the death of Marcy, turning out to be Tom's girlfriend. On the way he meets two women, Julie (Teri Garr) and Gail (Catherine O'Hara), both apparently like him first but turn against him later. When he goes to the nightclub Kiki and Horst patronize, the punks attempt to shave him into a Mohawk hairstyle. On the street Paul is mistaken for a burglar and is relentlessly pursued by the mob.

Paul finds Tom again, but the mob with the assistance of Julie and Gail (with her Mister Softee truck) at the same time finds Paul. He runs into the nightclub again, helped by a woman named June (Verna Bloom), also a sculptress, who protects him by pouring plaster on him in order to disguise him as a sculpture. The burglar duo comes and steals him. He falls from the burglar's cargo on the gate to his office in the morning, and returns to work, giving the film a happy ending.


The film was originally to be directed by Tim Burton, but Scorsese read the script at a time when he was unable to get financial backing to complete The Last Temptation of Christ, and Burton gladly stepped aside when Scorsese expressed interest in directing. After Hours was also the first film of fiction directed by Scorsese in a decade without starring Robert De Niro.

The dialog between Paul and the doorman at Club Berlin is taken from Kafka's "Before the Law", a short story that is part of his novel The Trial.

British director Michael Powell was around quite a lot while the film was being made (he and editor Thelma Schoonmaker married soon afterwards). Nobody was sure how the film should end. Michael Powell said "He must finish up back at work" but this was initially dismissed as too unlikely and difficult. They tried many other endings, a few were even filmed. But the only one that everyone felt really worked was to have Paul finish up back at work just as the new day was starting.


The film grossed $10,609,321 in the United States. Though it was not received well by moviegoers, it was given positive reviews at the time and is now said to be an "underrated" Scorsese film, as well as a cult classic in its own right. The film did, however, garner Scorsese the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival and allowed the director to take a deserved hiatus from the tumultuous development of The Last Temptation of Christ It currently holds a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Prominent film critic Roger Ebert gave After Hours a positive review and a rating of four stars. He praised the film as one of the best in the year, and said it "continues Scorsese's attempt to combine comedy and satire with unrelenting pressure and a sense of all-pervading paranoia."

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting criticized the film, however, citing its "lack of satirical bite" and for making fun of "mental instability and bizarre sexual practices". The office listed After Hours in the "L" rating, advising it only to be viewed by a limited adult audience. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an "R" rating.

Radio artist Joe Frank later filed a lawsuit, claiming the screenplay lifted its plot setup and portions of dialogue (particularly in the first 30 minutes of the film) from his 1982 NPR Playhouse monologue "Lies." Though Frank never received official credit, he reportedly received a substantial settlement.

Selected Cast

Soundtrack listing

  1. "Air On The G String (Air From Suite No. 3)" Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
  2. "En la Cueva" Performed by Cuadro Flamenco
  3. "Sevillanas" Performed by Manitas de Plata
  4. "Someone to Watch over Me" Performed by Robert and Johnnie
  5. "You're Mine" Written by Robert Carr and Johnnie Mitchell, Performed by Robert and Johnnie
  6. "We Belong Together" Performed by Robert and Johnnie
  7. "Angel Baby" Written by Rosie Hamlin, Performed by Rosie and the Originals
  8. "Last Train to Clarksville" Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Performed by The Monkees
  9. "Chelsea Morning" Written by Joni Mitchell, Performed by Joni Mitchell
  10. "I Don't Know Where I Stand" Written by Joni Mitchell, Performed by Joni Mitchell
  11. "Over the Mountain and Across the Sea" Performed by Johnnie and Joe
  12. "One Summer Night" Written by Danny Webb, Performed by The Danleers
  13. "Pay to Cum" Bad Brains
  14. "Is That All There Is" Peggy Lee

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "After Hours (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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