I watched Martin Scorsese’s After Hours(1985) this evening, and I really do love this film. And while many might consider it a minor Scorsese film, for me it is one of his best. Right up there with Taxi Driver (1976), Goodfellas (1990), and Raging Bull (1980). It’s a beautifully wrought existential comedy that is perfectly played by Griffin Dunne, whose move from acting to producing is something I regret when I think of his performance in this role. He’s absolutely convincing in his slow and subtle exasperation with a night from hell, and he in many ways underacts through a kind of simultaneously sleazy, uptight, and out-of-place working stiff who is simply having a very bad night. Just about every scene is memorable, but I’ll pick two in particular, the one above has Roseanna Arquette in what might be her finest role as the deeply unstable object of Dunne’s misquided affection. The short tale about her film obsessed husband reminds me of Scorsese himself, especially if you have seen or heard him talk about movies, he is absolutely euphoric.
But the other clip, which is even closer to my heart in many ways, features Dunne’s character, Paul Hackett, at the end of his rope as he is being pursued throughout Soho by a vigilante mob. He ends a futile call to the police with a very simple exclamation, “Oh wow!” But that is no regular old “Oh wow,” for the way he says it has stuck with me for decades. In fact, I haven’t stopped coming back to it and repeating it since I first saw this film in high school over twenty years ago. It has in many ways guided me through my adult life, and supported me through so many a rough time. It’s my simple, special movie quote shared only with one another. Well, at least until now. Enjoy!