“Different rules apply when it gets this late. You know what I mean? It’s like, after hours.”–After Hours
DIRECTED BY: Martin Scorsese
FEATURING: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, John Heard, Linda Fiorentino, Terri Garr, Catherine O’Hara, Verna Bloom, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong
PLOT: Paul meets an attractive woman in a Manhattan coffee shop after he gets off work. Under the pretext of his buying a paperweight from her roommate, she gives him her number. He calls her, is invited over to her SoHo loft, loses his money on the cab ride over, and is plagued by a bizarre series of missteps and coincidences that result in a dead body and his pursuit by a lynch mob as he tries in vain to make his way back home.
- Originally titles Lies, the script for After Hours was Joseph Minion’s thesis project for Columbia Film School. His professor was Dusan Makavejev. He got an “A.”
- Minion lifted about a third of the film (much of Marcy’s character) from a radio monologue by Joe Frank, who won a plagiarism lawsuit against the producers.
- Minion would go on to write the script for another Certified Weird pick: Vampire’s Kiss (1988).
- Griffin Dunne and Amy Robinson, then-struggling actors who took up producing, optioned Minion’s screenplay. They pitched the project to Martin Scorsese, but when they did not hear back from him they began negotiations with Tim Burton, who had yet to make a feature film at the time. Months later, when Scorsese’s first attempt to make The Last Temptation of Christ fell apart, he expressed interest in the project. When Burton heard this news he gracefully withdrew, saying he did not want to stand in the way of Scorsese.
- The ending of After Hours had not been decided on when shooting began. (One proposed, and unused, surrealistic ending had Paul climbing into Verna Bloom’s womb and being reborn uptown). The first cut used a downbeat attempt at a conclusion that bombed with test audiences. Scorsese then went back and re-shot the ending we see today. (Director Michael Powell suggested the resolution Scorsese finally used).
- Scorsese won the “Best Director” award at the Cannes Film Festival for After Hours.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Kiki’s papier-mâché sculpture of a man staring up at the sky, mouth agape and gnarled fingers held before his face, like a flash-fried Pompeii victim preserved in ash. Paul thinks it looks like a three-dimensional version of “The Shriek.” The statue turns up unexpectedly later in the night, and an eerily and ironically similar piece plays a key role in the climax.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Burn victim?; “Surrender Dorothy”; mummified escape
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: No other black comedy has ever captured such a perfect mix of unease, absurdity, melancholy, and danger with the light, unforced touch that Scorsese does here. Man’s fate in an uncaring universe ruled by the iron fist of coincidence has never seemed so horrifyingly hilarious.
Original trailer for After Hours
COMMENTS: Years ago, I wrote an article for this site about Continue reading 330. AFTER HOURS (1985)