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After Hours is a 1985 American black comedy film, written by Joseph Minion and directed by Martin Scorsese. It depicts Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a New Yorkermarker who experiences a series of adventures and perils in trying to make his way home from SoHomarker.


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, under the pretense of buying a paperweight, Paul visits Marcy, taking a cab to her apartment. On his way to visit Marcy, the majority of Paul's money (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, perhaps as a symbolic reference to spiritual burning or disfigurement.

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 (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 sculptures. 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 deeply in grief over the death of Marcy, who turns out to be Tom's girlfriend. On the way he meets two women, Julie (Teri Garr) and Gail (Catherine O'Hara), 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 punk 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 homosexuals.

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, where he is 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. 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 and giving it a happy ending.


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 only 26 years old at the time the film was produced. 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 without starring Robert De Niro.

The dialog 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. 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 1986 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." He later added the film to his "Great Movies" list. 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."

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. In the film, Kiki's telephone number is given as 243-3460, rather than the usual 555 number.

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


  1. " 'After Hours' from Martin Scorsese," Vincent Canby, The New York Times, September 13, 1985
  2. Variety Staff, After Hours. Variety. 1985.
  3. Kafka, Franz. Before the Law.
  4. IMDb notes
  5. After Hours. Box Office Mojo.
  6. After Hours. Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. Ebert, Roger. After Hours. October 11, 1985.
  8. After Hours. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting.
  9. Film ratings. MPAA.
  10. Hearst, Andrews. [1]. May 27, 2008.

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