CFS: ‘After Hours’ unlikely hit

Stephanie Simmons

Ever had a well-intentioned plan go completely awry?

Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” tells the story of one man’s night on the town which ends up taking more than a few wrong turns. Expecting nothing more than a fun date, New York computer consultant Paul Hackett ends up stranded in SoHo with no money and no way of getting home.

This situation begets a mélange of shady encounters with a motley assortment of oddball characters, including vengeful mobs and suicide victims. What starts out as a playful attempt to jump into bed with a beautiful stranger turns into a night that may end up being his last.

Having directed numerous high-profile motion pictures, including “Goodfellas” and “The Departed,” Scorsese is arguably the greatest living American film director.  He is most famous for his dramatic depictions of outsiders, especially Mafia types. Though “After Hours” is undeniably a Scorsese success, it deviates from his Italian gangster classics and award-winning cult favorites.

While this 1985 dark comedy maintains the typical Scorsesean element of mob violence, it also displays a side of the director rarely seen in his other works. For movie fans willing to try something different, “After Hours” is a refreshing piece that will not disappoint.

This low-budget film was produced during a lull in the director’s career, and it was intended to act as a last-ditch effort to redeem his name in show business.

The film did not attain much press or box-office earnings right out of the gate; nevertheless, it showcases raw talent that make it a timeless favorite. Perhaps it is the unbeatable performances of Oscar-nominated Griffin Dunne and stand-up comedians Cheech & Chong that give “After Hours” its witty flair.

It could even be that the film’s exultant approval from Roger Ebert and the 1986 Cannes Film Festival piqued audience interest, finally giving this movie the notoriety that it deserved. Either way, the result of much hard work produced a masterpiece that kept Scorsese tied to the movie industry and allowed him to quickly rise to the top.

“After Hours” will be screened in the Connelly Cinema as part of the Cultural Film Series, “Hidden Treasures.” Show times are Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 22 at 3:30 & 7 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.

Monday’s showing will feature Villanova’s own Steve McWilliams, a theater professor who graces the University with his talent in teaching and media production.

He currently directs Villanova’s International Studies and Human Services program and is also co-professor of the film production class that created “Price of Life.”