Nocturnal Visions: ‘After Hours’ meets ‘Into The Night’

By  · Published on April 13th, 2017

A new video posits both films happened the same night, and we believe it.

Perry’s Note: Today I’m handing over one of my time slots to Dutch filmmaker and all-round creative animal Peet Gelderblom, who in his latest video essay argues that Martin Scorsese’s cult classic After Hours and John Landis’ little-seen gem Into The Night are East Coast and West Coast chronicles of the very same night in 1985. Sounds off the wall? Well, off the wall is just another day at the office for Gelderblom, who earlier pitted Hitchcock against De Palma in a Split Screen Bloodbath; who put God in the same room with Satan in a mammoth mash-up compiled from two dozen movies; who made Kermit cry and Werner Herzog talk funny and whose fan edit of Raising Cain became a De Palma approved Director’s Cut.

Check out the video here, and Gelderblom’s written intro below:

In 1985, two famous American filmmakers released jet black comedies about white-collar workers breaking away from their tedious day jobs to experience the worst night of their lives. On the East Coast, Martin Scorsese directed the cult classic After Hours, set in New York City. On the West Coast, John Landis directed his little-seen gem Into The Night, set in Los Angeles.

These films performed poorly at the box office and remain highly underrated today. I believe they deserve better, just like I believe both stories took place on the very same night…

After Hours and Into The Night belong to the subgenre screwball noir; an interesting fusion of two diametrically opposed types of movies: the screwball comedy and film noir. Both movies feature mysterious blondes dragging their clueless leading men into a long series of increasingly outlandish misadventures. Both movies feature taxi rides from hell, casual nudity, ridiculous director cameos, doors with attitude, menacing statues, running from angry mobs, unexpected corpses, impertinent waitresses, awkward silences, surreal encounters and a whole string of quirky side-characters.

To counter-balance the madness, Scorsese and Landis rely on finely calibrated central performances by Griffin Dunne and Jeff Goldblum respectively. As average Joe’s Paul Hackett and Ed Okin, they telegraph their thoughts, questions and doubts with pin-point accuracy and make us empathize each step of the way, while the world around them couldn’t care less.

In spite of the similarities, it’s intriguing to notice how different the movies play. The tone of After Hours could be described as tense, paranoid and agitated. Into The Night is by comparison dreamy, laid-back and inquisitive. Scorsese’s brand of humor leans towards farce with events becoming progressively hysterical, while Landis opts for a playful blend of dead-pan comedy with slapstick elements. Scorsese teases the viewer with an erratic story line capped by a surprisingly bleak ending, whereas Landis keeps his audience at the edge of their seats by merging a classic Hollywood caper feel with sharp satire and shocking bursts of realistic violence.

Paul Hackett starts out wanting to get laid and ends up just wanting to go home. Ed Okin starts out as an insomniac trapped in a loveless marriage, who ends up falling in love and falling asleep. Before the closing credits roll, After Hours has turned deeply noir, while Into The Night emerges proudly screwball.

Related Topics: , ,

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist