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5 awesome facts about Scorsese’s After Hours

Shot in 1985, After Hours is one of the most unexpected movies by Martin Scorsese, filmed in a dark time of his career and surprisingly peculiar when analysed closely.

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Shot in 1985, After Hours is one of the most unexpected movies by Martin Scorsese, filmed in a dark time of his career and surprisingly peculiar when analysed closely.
By the time Scorsese became involved in the project, he was still processing the disappointment of Paramount Pictures’ withdrawal from the production of The Last Temptation of Christ, an expansive and demanding project which he firmly believed in. Therefore, he turned to a smaller production, with an overall budget of just 4 million.


1. It was supposed to be filmed by Tim Burton

And we can see why. The film’s peculiarity lies in the unpredictable nature of the characters and narrative twists. They set the mood and the atmosphere, combining comedy, noir and grotesque. Burton would have been at ease with such a story, but when he heard about Scorsese’s interest, he stepped aside.
What Scorsese added was his talent in fluidity of camera movements – e.g. the keys’ sequence. His style, as pointed out by critics, seems to deliberately echo Hitchcock‘s, while the dynamic shots and the general grotesque that turns to paranoia might be a less-noted connection to Polansky.

2. The everlasting phallic struggle

A psycho-analytical key has been used by critics to unlock the meaning of the story. According to this key, Paul keeps being emasculated by women in the film, and this is the real issue he is fighting against – a reference to women pushing him around can be found in the poster (a detail above). Throughout the film, there are scenes that hint pretty openly to this interpretation, such as the graffiti seen by Paul on a bathroom wall.


Still of Griffin Dunne as Paul © 1985 Warner Bros.

Still of Griffin Dunne as Paul © 1985 Warner Bros.


3. It could have ended so much worse

At some point, an alternative ending was taken under consideration. In it, Paul would crawl back into June’s womb, a quite different hiding spot than the plaster cast she puts on him in the final version. Then, June would give birth to Paul on the West Side Highway. The very fact that the authors considered such an uncanny ending casts light on their set of ideas and confirms the validity of a psychoanalytical interpretation. But the cyclic structure won, probably thanks to its connection to the inescapable nature of time.

4. Nothing says frustration like a quote from Franz Kafka

It was intentional, it elated bookworms like me, and not just that. There is a clear quotation of Kafka in the scene in which Paul tries to enter the club “Berlin” and is stopped by a bouncer. When Paul offers him the last of his money in order to bribe him, the man says: «I’ll take your money ‘cause I want you to feel you haven’t left anything untried.» But he doesn’t let him in. This is the same sentence pronounced by a doorkeeper in the parable Before the Law, in Kafka’s novel The Trial. Such a connection unfolds a frustrating atmosphere, the same we breathe in Kafka’s books, in which there is no way out, but only a way downward, into the abyss of paranoia.


Martin Scorsese and Griffin Dunne

Martin Scorsese and Griffin Dunne


5. The other angry mob from the Ear Inn

In the short documentary After Hours – Making and Deleted Scenes, Griffin Dunne talks about the shooting of the scene when he enters the deserted club Berlin. Apparently, in order to obtain a more realistic performance from the actor, Scorsese made him go to an actual bar, the Ear Inn, two blocks away from the shooting location, where Dunne had to order drinks for everybody. Then, he ran away without paying, rushing to the set, and the cameras started shooting the moment he enters the club. In the film, Dunne’s character runs in the club to hide from an angry mob, and that was pretty much what was really going on.


After Hours movie poster - UberAuraDirector: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Joseph Minion
Cast: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Catherine O’Hara
Year: 1985

Francesca Laura is a talented and eclectic writer, she works as a script consultant for a well-known film production house in Italy, while cultivating her passion for literature. She is currently involved in different projects with directors and authors.

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