Now halfway into 2023, the Criterion Collection have released several new titles for the month of July. One of them is Martin Scorsese’s 1985 dark comedy After Hours. As per usual with recent entries from Criterion, After Hours has been given both a Blu-Ray and 4K releases/restorations. Staring Griffin Dunne, After Hours is a unique movie with its meshing of comedy and suspense movies. While certainly not as popular as Taxi Driver or Goodfellas, After Hours has attained a cult following over the years. It has certainly earned its spot in the Criterion Collection.
A little bit of history
Prior to the release of After Hours, Martin Scorsese was going through a rough part of his career. While critically acclaimed, Scorsese’s 1982 movie The King of Comedy was a box office flop. Along with this, Paramount Pictures had abandoned production on Scorsese’s film adaptation of The Last Temptation of Christ in 1983 (which wouldn’t be successfully made until 1988). During these hard times, Scorsese read the script for Lies written by Joseph Minion. Impressed by the script, Scorsese contacted actors and producers Griffin Dunne and Amy Robinson about directing the movie. At that point in time, Dunne and Robinson were in talks with director Tim Burton. When Burton heard of Scorsese’s interest, he glad relinquished his role in the movie.
The movie review
After Hours takes place in Manhattan, where the protagonist Paul Hackett (Dunne) is a word processor. One night, Paul meets an attractive quirky blonde named Marcy (played by Rosanna Arquette) at a cafe. After having a pleasant chat with her, Paul decides to call her and she invites him to her place in SoHo. What follows afterwards is a series of surreal and chaotic moments, with Paul trying his best to get back home.
After Hours is a unique movie for many reasons. For one thing, the movie is an amazing meshing of both comedy and suspense. In terms of the comedy, this comes in the form of Paul not being able to get home. Hour by hour, he finds himself going from one situation to another situation in this comedy of errors. While some audiences might sympathize and hurt for Paul’s situation, you can’t help but laugh at how Paul’s night gets progressively worse and worse. Griffin Dunne gives a brilliant performance as Paul Hackett, playing the part of this likable but breakable man who just wanted a diversion from his mundane life as a word processor. The comedy in After Hours might not be for everyone: it gets pretty dark to the point when you’re undecided about whether to laugh or not.
As for the suspense, After Hours is a movie that (obviously) takes place in the evening. This is a similar setting for noir mysteries, usually involving crime and/or murder. While not a mystery, there is a plot point in the movie about a series of ongoing robberies in the city at night. With Paul walking by himself at night in the streets of New York, the movie gives off this eerie feeling. Topped off by the stellar cinematography and Howard Shore’s spine-tinging score, After Hours wears its uniqueness proudly.
The bonus features
Criterion have offered a mix of new and old content for the bonus features. Listed below are the supplements and extras included in this release:
– NEW: Conversation between Martin Scorsese and writer Fran Lebowitz
– NEW: Feature on the look of the movie with costume designer Rita Ryack and production designer Jeffrey Townsend
– Filming For Your Life: 2004 documentary on the making of the movie
– Deleted Scenes
– Commentary from Scorsese, Dunne, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and director of photography Michael Ballhaus
– Essay from film critic Sheila O’Malley
Of these features (sans the essay), the top two are the only new ones. While it doesn’t sound like much, both features are nice and give more insight to the movie. The conversation with Scorsese is great, with he and writer Fran Lebowitz discussing the history of the movie and how the movie holds up. The new feature on the look of the movie is also good, though it should be noted that Ryack and Townsend are in it via interview clips (whether they’re newly recorded or not is unknown). Visually, the feature uses specific scenes from the movie and pictures of set sketches and more. Everything else has been previously released on the 2004 DVD release of the movie. Even then, it’s nice to have everything on one disc.
If you’re a Scorsese fan, you’ll want to pick this release up. The new restoration of the movie looks amazing on the Blu-ray. Whether it’s better than previous Blu-ray releases is debatable but Criterion usually know what they’re doing. While it would’ve been nice to have more new content, Criterion delivers with the information provided. With that, this will give movie buffs a deep appreciation for this movie.
Movie Rating: 7/10
Overall release rating: 8/10
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.