Martin Scorsese & Griffin Dunne (Photo via Hazardous Operations)
In the mid 80’s Martin Scorsese was not in a good place career-wise. You would think that after making films like Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The King of Comedy, studios would just let the man make the movies he wants to make, without any hassle. However, Paramount Pictures decided to stop production on Scorsese’s dream project The Last Temptation of Christ, due to budgetary concerns and pressure from religious groups. The entire ordeal frustrated Scorsese; who after rejecting many scripts, decided to film a black comedy that takes place almost entirely in Soho. In our second to last installment of the #MonthofScorsese film locations series, we present the NYC film locations for 1985’s After Hours.
Paul Hackett is a word processor whose job bores the hell out of him. In the film’s opening sequence, we see him training a new employee; someone who says that the job is only temporary. Paul gives him a look of ambivalence, as if he has heard that same line time and time again. One thing you will notice if you look closely is all the closed off, or locked in imagery. It is evidenced in this shot of Paul leaving after another day of work. The two men pull together these beautifully large gates which close off Paul from his place of work.
If you would like to see this wonderfully designed gates for yourself, then head over to Madison Avenue and 24th Street, which will lead you to the Metropolitan Life North Building. The skyscraper was designed in the 1920s, in an Art Deco style by architect Harvey Wiley Corbett and Everett Waid. It is a 30 story building, originally designed to have 70 more floors, but the Stock Market crash of 1929 got in the way.
It was not until 1950 when the building was finally complete. In the mid 90s it went through a $300 million restoration and served as the Met Life records warehouse. Currently, the skyscraper is owned by the Sapir Organization.
For more insight into the history of the building, and for concept drawings of what the originally would have looked like if built according to plan, check out this post from The NYC That Never Was.
Paul meets a girl in a diner; Marcy offers to sell him one of her friend’s plaster bagel shaped paperweights; Paul, trying to win her over obviously agrees. She tells him the number to her friends studio, when Paul gets home, he calls immediately (three day rule buddy!) Kiki, the person who makes plaster bagel art answers and gives Paul the address. In what is the first of many unfortunate events to happen to Paul, his only $20 goes flying out the cab’s window, when he finally tells the driver what happens, it is too late.
The driver, rightfully angry that Paul did not pay up the $6.50 (good luck getting a cab ride for that cheap now) speeds off. He leaves Paul at his destination. If this looks familiar to those who have ventured through SOHO, you probably know where this is. For those who are still clueless, the home of the S&M loving, punk rock plaster artist can be found on the intersection between Howard and Crosby Street.
While After Hours is not talked about as much as the other Scorsese masterpieces like Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, this is still a notable film in the director’s filmography. For it is After Hours that brings Martin Scorsese and cinematographer Micheal Ballhaus together for the first time. Ballhaus – famous for working with German New Wave director Rainer Fassbender – would go on to work alongside Scorsese five more times after collaborating on After Hours.
This shot is a prime example of the magic that he and Scorsese put together on screen. In this beautiful low angle shot, we follow Paul and Marcy into a diner. The River Diner was on the corner of 11th avenue and 37th Street. It opened in the 1930s and stayed in the exact same location until it closed down in March 2004.
Things do not go so well with Marcy, so Paul exits her apartment and tried to get home on the train. His plans of getting home via subway are halted when the teller refuses to give him a token (those little copper coins with holes in the middle that were not pennies). According to the teller, the fare went up to $1.50 (incredible how cheap the subway use to be) at midnight. Paul only has 98 cents, which is not enough for the man in the booth to give him a break. When Paul tries to just hop the turnstile, a cop appears out of nowhere.
The whole exchange takes place at the Spring Street Subway Station, an entrance you can journey to at the intersection of Vandam Street and Avenue of The Americans.
Out in the rain, Paul takes shelter in a small bar on the corner of Spring and Renwick Street. There he runs into a bartender named Tom (who is connected to the story in more ways than one) and a waitress named Julie, whose hairstyle and overall personality, seems straight out of the 1960s.
The place is a real bar, but it is not called Terminal Bar. It’s actually The Emerald Pub, which has been on that corner since 1972. It was run by Paddy Reilly, now it is run by a native Irish man named Damian Dolan. The Pub keeps the bar filled with 30 different kinds of vodka and of course, beer.
It looks as if Paul has found himself a savior. Tom (the bartender) offers to loan Paul the money for the train, however he can not get his cash register to work (warning, cash registers do get abused in this movie). Tom has a key to get the register open, however, it’s in his apartment. Paul volunteers to go get the spare key, and leaves his own keys at the bar, so he can be trusted.
Tom tells Paul that his apartment in on the top floor of the 158 Spring Street. When Paul gets there, he washes off his face, wipes it with some tissues and proceeds to toss them in Tom’s toilet. When he flushes, the water starts overflowing; Paul trying desperately to stop the overflowing by just putting the seat down, just gives up and retreats back to Terminal, to get subway fare and his own keys.
After some chance encounters and major plot revelations, Paul gets to Terminal, only for it to be closed at the moment. The waitress from earlier, Julie, spots him and invites him into her home (was it that easy to get into women’s apartments in the 80s?). Julie’s apartments is stocked with hairspray, has rat traps surrounding her bed, and the color palette of a John Waters film. She lives on top of a Xerox shop, where she also works.
The apartment of the waitress who can not figure out 8% tax (neither can a lot of people) is across the street from the Terminal Bar: 307 between Spring and Renwick Street.
Kiki and her boyfriend give an invitation for Paul to meet up with them at this punk bar on the corner of West Broadway and Grand named Berlin. Paul tries to get in, but it is “mohawk night” according to the bouncer who gives Paul a hard time. He drags Paul in eventually, and tries to get his head shaven in the process. Paul flees only to return to the bar, just to end up taken hostage (sort of) by a pair of burglars played by none other than Cheech & Chong. This place may have never existed, however the patterns of the building next to Berlin figures into the overall psychology of the movie.
Last week is the final week, as Untapped will tackle Scorsese’s mafia classic Goodfellas
To find out what become of Paul’s twenty dollars, contact the author @TatteredFedora