After Hours (film)

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After Hours
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by
Written by
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Thelma Schoonmaker
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • September 13, 1985 (1985-09-13)
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.5 million[citation needed]
Box office $10.6 million[2]

After Hours is a 1985 American black comedy film[3] directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Joseph Minion, and starring an ensemble cast, including Rosanna Arquette, Griffin Dunne, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, and John Heard. Paul Hackett (Dunne) experiences a series of misadventures as he tries to make his way home from SoHo.


Paul Hackett, a word processor, meets Marcy Franklin in a cafe. They discuss their common interest in Henry Miller. Marcy leaves Paul her number and informs him that she lives with a sculptor named Kiki Bridges, who makes and sells plaster of Paris paperweights resembling bagels. Later in the night, under the pretense of buying a paperweight, Paul visits Marcy, taking a cab to her apartment. On his way to visit Marcy, a $20 bill is blown out the window of the cab, leaving him with only some spare pocket change. The cab driver is furious that he can't pay, thereby beginning the first in a long series of misadventures for Paul that turn hostile through no fault of his own. At the apartment Paul meets the sculptor Kiki and Marcy. It seems that a romance might develop between Paul and Marcy but he comes across a collection of photographs and medications which imply that Marcy is severely disfigured from burns on her legs and torso. As a result of this implication, and as a result of a strained conversation with Marcy, Paul abruptly slips out of the apartment. Paul later learns that Marcy is not disfigured and the significance of his earlier discovery is left as a mystery to the viewer.

Paul then attempts to go home by subway, yet the fare has increased at the stroke of midnight and he finds that his pocket change is no longer sufficient to purchase a token. He goes to a bar. The owner, Tom Schorr 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, with one of Kiki's sculptures. When he returns the sculpture to the apartment, he finds Marcy has committed suicide while Kiki and a stout man named Horst have already left to go to Club Berlin, a nightclub. Paul goes back to Tom's bar, finding Tom deeply in grief over the death of Marcy, who turns out to be Tom's girlfriend. On the way he meets two women, Julie and Gail, both of whom apparently like him at first but turn against him later. When he goes to the nightclub Kiki and Horst patronize, a collection of punks attempt to shave his head into a Mohawk hairstyle. On the street Paul is mistaken for a burglar and is relentlessly pursued by a mob of local residents.

Paul finds Tom again, but the mob (with the assistance of Julie and Gail, with her Mister Softee truck) chases Paul and he ultimately seeks refuge back at the Club Berlin. Paul uses his last quarter to play Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee and asks a woman named June to dance. Paul explains he's being pursued and June, also a sculptress, offers to help him. She protects him by pouring plaster on him in order to disguise him as a sculpture. However, she won't let him out of the plaster, which eventually hardens, trapping Paul in a position that resembles the character depicted in Edvard Munch's The Scream. The burglar duo then breaks into the Club Berlin and steals him, placing him in the back of their van. He falls from the burglar's cargo near the gate to his office as the sun is rising, and returns to work, bringing the film full circle.

Selected cast[edit]


The film is based on a screenplay that Joseph Minion wrote as part of an assignment for a film course at Columbia University. He was 26 years old at the time the film was produced.[4] It was originally titled "Lies" after the 1982 Joe Frank monologue that inspired the story. The original title of the circulating screenplay that was read by Scorsese and the producers was "Surrender Dorothy."[5]

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 the first film of fiction directed by Scorsese in a decade not starring Robert De Niro.[3]

The dialogue between Paul and the doorman at Club Berlin is adapted from Kafka's "Before the Law", a short story that is part of his novel The Trial.[6][7]

British director Michael Powell was around quite a lot while the film was being made (Powell 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, and 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.[8]


The film grossed $10,609,321 in the United States.[2] Though it was not received well by audiences, it was given positive reviews at the time and went on to be considered an "underrated" Scorsese film, and a cult classic in its own right.[9][10][11][12] The film did, however, garner Scorsese the Best Director Award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival and allowed the director to take a hiatus from the tumultuous development of The Last Temptation of Christ.[13] It currently holds an 90% rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[14] Prominent film critic Roger Ebert gave After Hours a positive review and a rating of four out 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."[15] He later added the film to his "Great Movies" list.[16] In The New York Times, Vincent Canby gave the film a mixed review and called it an "entertaining tease, with individually arresting sequences that are well acted by Mr. Dunne and the others, but which leave you feeling somewhat conned."[4]


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".[17] Though Frank never received official credit, he reportedly was "paid handsomely" in a settlement.[18]


A Bollywood film named Ek Chalis Ki Last Local copied the same plot structure and main plot points.[citation needed]


The musical score for After Hours was composed by Howard Shore, who went on to collaborate multiple times with Scorsese. Although an official soundtrack album was never released, many of Shore's cues appear on the 2009 album Howard Shore: Collector's Edition Vol. 1.[19] In addition to the score, other music credited at the end the film is:

  1. "Symphony in D Major, K. 95 (K. 73n): 1st movement" attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (the work is not among Mozart's officially numbered symphonies, but is sometimes numbered as 45)
  2. "Air on the G String (Air From Suite No. 3)" by Johann Sebastian Bach
  3. "En la Cueva" Performed by Cuadro Flamenco
  4. "Sevillanas" Composed and Performed by Manitas de Plata
  5. "Night and Day", Words and Music written by Cole Porter
  6. "Body and Soul" Composed by John Green
  7. "Quando, Quando, Quando", Music by Tony Renis, Lyrics by Pat Boone
  8. "Someone to Watch over Me", Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Music by George Gershwin, Performed by Robert and Johnny
  9. "You're Mine" Written by Robert Carr and Johnny Mitchell, Performed by Robert and Johnny
  10. "We Belong Together" Performed by Robert and Johnny
  11. "Angel Baby" Written by Rosie Hamlin, Performed by Rosie and the Originals
  12. "Last Train to Clarksville" Composed by Bobby Hart and Tommy Boyce, Written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Performed by The Monkees
  13. "Chelsea Morning" Composed and Performed by Joni Mitchell
  14. "I Don't Know Where I Stand" Composed and Performed by Joni Mitchell
  15. "Over the Mountain and Across the Sea" Composed by Rex Garvin, Performed by Johnnie and Joe
  16. "One Summer Night" Written by Danny Webb, Performed by The Danleers
  17. "Pay to Cum" Written and Performed by the band Bad Brains
  18. "Is That All There Is" Composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Performed by Peggy Lee


  1. ^ The Films of Martin Scorsese, 1978-99: Authorship and Context II. Leighton Grist, 1987, p. 122.
  2. ^ a b After Hours. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  3. ^ a b Variety Staff. "After Hours". Variety. 1985. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  4. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (1985-09-13). "'After Hours' from Martin Scorsese". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  5. ^ "The Scandalous Origins of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours | Andrew Hearst". Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  6. ^ Kafka, Franz. Before the Law. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  7. ^ Faber, Marion (Autumn 1986). "Kafka on the Screen: Martin Scorsese's "After Hours"". Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons) 19 (2): 200–205. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ Making of After Hours documentary Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  9. ^ Blair, Iain (2001-11-05). "The Free Game; Stars' Cameos Add Touch of Realism to Faux Documentary". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. p. 3E. 
  10. ^ Schembri, Jim (2003-02-14). "Martin's mean streets". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  11. ^ "Five-film DVD set defines Scorsese". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2004-08-20. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  12. ^ Lawson, Terry (2004-08-14). "Box set collects five from Martin Scorsese". Detroit Free Press. 
  13. ^ "Festival de Cannes: After Hours". Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  14. ^ After Hours. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (1985-10-11). "After Hours". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (2009-01-14). "After Hours". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  17. ^ Hearst, Andrews (2008-05-27). The Scandalous Origins of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  18. ^ Emerling, Susan (2000-03-07). Public radio's bad dream.
  19. ^ "Howard Shore Collector's Edition, Vol. 1". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 

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